EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)- Findings from an internal audit revealed that City Representative Cassandra Hernandez and her husband used her city gas card in 2023.
As we reported, an internal audit found that in 2022 Hernandez purchased close to 35% of all the fuel purchased by the council in the calendar year.
The audit for 2023 shows that the percentage increased for January to April of 2023 was close to 40% of all the fuel purchased by the council.
One time when fuel was purchased on the District 3 gas card, Representative Hernandez was in a city council meeting.
“Fuel was purchased when the meeting was in progress, so just very curious why that would happen,” said Edmundo Calderon, the Chief Internal Auditor for the City of El Paso.
According to a police report, the internal audit office obtained from the El Paso Police Department states that the District 3 representative drives a white van, and the representative’s husband drives a gray pickup truck.
The report also states that through the analysis of ten security videos obtained by the police department, the white van was identified five times and the gray truck was identified four times.
In addition, the police report said police were able to identify District 3 representative one time, and her spouse three times purchasing fuel.
The 2023 internal audit findings were presented to the financial oversight and audit committee on Wednesday.
City council members involved included District 1 Representative Brian Kennedy, District 2 Representative Alexsandra Annello, District 4 Representative Joe Molinar and District 6 Representative Art Fierro.
Members of the council who were a part of the financial oversight and audit committee questioned why the video surveillance has not been released.
“We do have reason to believe that there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation besides the police department,” said Karla Nieman, the City Attorney for the City of El Paso.
Nieman clarified that they are trying to clarify that investigation before the records are released.
Representative Hernandez released a statement regarding her use of her city gas card saying there are “political motivations at play.”
“It is important to emphasize that both the auditor’s report and the El Paso Police Department’s report have conclusively stated that my use of the fuel card does not violate any City of El Paso policies or laws. However, I am deeply troubled that there are ongoing attempts to distract El Pasoans from the failures of this leadership, including the costly decision to terminate City Manager Tommy Gonzalez without cause, derailing the Downtown Multi-Purpose Center and dealing with the repercussions of sexual harassment concerns raised against Rep. Joe Molinar,” stated a portion of the statement from Representative Hernandez.
Hernandez also said she voluntarily repaid for the fuel.
According to the City of El Paso Chief Financial Officer Robert Cortinas, the District 3 gas card was turned over on May 9 and a check was written for 2022, not for 2023 back on May 5.