A statewide watchdog group is calling out El Paso’s State Senator, Jose Rodriguez, for what it calls “living large.”
Rodriguez is named in a report by the Texas Monitor for expenditures it says are tied to his lifestyle. The report cites Rodriguez’s Austin apartment at nearly $61,000 and a nearly $22,000 Lexus lease as the reasons he landed in the #4 spot on the largest spenders in the Texas Senate.
According to the Texas Monitor, Rodriguez spent $110,797 in expenditures over a two-year period from 2015-2016.
Rodriguez responded to the report via e-mail today to KTSM:
This report only makes clear that the bulk of my campaign spending is on items necessary for me to fulfill my responsibilities as a state legislator. Keeping a residence in Austin is simply practical. Being a senator requires that I be in Austin often, and many times, without much forewarning, as I believe this most recent protracted special legislative session makes clear. Notably, unlike many of my colleagues, given the distance between El Paso and Austin, it’s virtually impossible for me to travel back and forth in the same day. The alternative to keeping a market-rate apartment near the Capitol would be to stay in a hotel each time I travel to Austin.
Similarly, I put a lot of miles on my car, not only for travel to and from Austin, but also to travel across the five counties that make up my Senate district, which includes 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border and extends to Big Bend. These are all legitimate expenses — not borne by taxpayers — in service of representing District 29 constituents full-time.
KTSM also took a look at the ranking for the rest of the El Paso delegation in the Texas House of Representatives. Out of the 150 State Representatives, Joe Pickett came in at #23 with expenditures listed at $24,762. Cesar Blanco ranks 57th, with listed expeditures of $8,743.
Joe Moody landed in the 98th position with expenditures of $3,772, Mary Gonzalez was 113th with with $2,062 in expenses. Finally, House newcomer Lina Ortega is at 140 with $184.28 reported between 2015-2016. Ortega was elected to office in November 2016.