EDITORS NOTE: A previous version of this article misstated which city council member reimbursed the city.
EL PASO — Interim City Manager Cary Westin officially blocked the use of taxpayer-funded gas cards by elected officials, following an audit that revealed some city council members were abusing the resource for personal travel.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser confirmed the termination to KTSM 9:
As a result of a recent audit which showed inconsistencies in the use of the gas cards by some members of the City Council, Interim City Manager Cary Westin made the decision to terminate the use of gas cards by elected officials. … I fully support this decision and appreciate Col. Westin’s prompt attention to this matter.
The order to terminate the use of taxpayer-funded gas cards came after El Paso City Councilmember Cassandra Hernandez and former City Councilmember Claudia Rodriguez collectively spent more than $11,000 on their gas cards in convenience charges.
Hernandez and Rodriguez were first audited back in November of 2022, as their expenditures accounted for 35 percent of the eight-person city council. However, an internal audit conducted by Chief Internal Auditor Edmund Calderon uncovered that in 2023, Hernandez’ and Rodriguez’ gas card purchases increased to account for 40 percent of expenditures.
Although Hernandez agreed to pay back her 2022 expenditures, Rodriguez refused.
The El Paso Ethics Commission will hear the ethics complaint filed against Cassandra Hernandez by an El Paso citizen on July 19.