El Paso-centric info and commentary from the Center of North America

Lobbyist re: Times report on Chávez party: I was mistaken when I said I was asked to contribute

The El Paso Times reported this:

Claudia Russell, a lobbyist for El Paso County, said she was one of the lobbyists who sponsored Chávez’s party in May. She said she put in about $150 after Chávez’s staff requested a contribution.

“I don’t know if I wanted to,” Russell said. “I just kinda felt it was my duty to.”

But, she said, the request was not out of the ordinary. Russell said lobbyists often help throw birthday parties for lawmakers, some that are extravagant nighttime affairs with DJs at downtown Austin clubs.

“Honestly, it didn’t strike me as unusual,” she said.

The article created a mini-firestorm, with supporters of state Rep. Norma Chávez calling the review who paid for her graduation party an attempt to smear her. Personally, I think it was a no-brainer, and I wish NPT had done the story. It was the internal buzz among political animals at the time and for weeks after, and it’s a legit area of inquiry (as is the fact that, as lobbyist Russell put it, such perks for legislators from lobbyists are not unusual). Part of the problem is that in El Paso there’s so little investigative journalism, or more particularly, political investigative journalism, that when it happens the defenders of the one who got gored have traction to complain that there must be an agenda at hand.

Maybe Russell’s unusual candor rebounded big-time, or maybe she really was speaking off-the-cuff and remembering things wrong. Either way, she sent a letter to the Times editor taking back what she said. I haven’t been able to find the letter online, so I don’t know if it’s been published (I don’t think so). Here it is:

july 16 letter to editor

Sito Negron


Written by newspapertreeelpaso

July 21, 2009 at 11:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Uh, Lobbyist 101 will tell you that you don’t talk about being a Lobbyist and all that comes with it. You do not talk about the parties you go to or who they were for and sure as hell don’t discuss who paid for the party.

    She said it and meant it and is now in a fight for her job. No other legislator will talk to this woman if they know she will rat them out.

    Not David K

    July 21, 2009 at 1:04 pm

  2. Not David K:

    I doubt this lobbyist will have any problems with other legislators. After all, the person she “ratted out” was no ordinary legislator. It was Norma Chavez, arguably the most despised and embarassing woman in Austin and El Paso.


    July 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

  3. Well, this is not shocking unless you are just looking for a reason to over react, Lobbyist didnt just start doing business and the question would be how are THESE lobbyists going to benefit. Then let’s check ALL the other folks because we know they all accept gifts of one sort or another.

    Ms. Chancez is no worse than the rest of them. She is very candid and forceful when representing her district. Could she be better ? Sure, but then so can the rest. Ms Chavez CAN and WILL duke it out with you in true Ultimate Figthing form. Maybe that’s some of you dont like about her. She wont take any nonsense.


    July 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm

  4. Norma Chavez will be in your corner, only if it benefits her financially. Has done little and will continue to in doing the same.


    July 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

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