Ethics complaints filed on two city commissioners
Thursday, July 20, 2017 by Jo Clifton
Nathan Wiebe, chief of investigations for the Office of the City Auditor, filed two complaints with the city’s Ethics Review Commission this week against members of advisory commissions.
Wiebe filed a complaint against Isabel López-Aguilar, a member of the Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commission and program coordinator at the Latino HealthCare Forum. The complaint states that auditors “found evidence that López-Aguilar, in her capacity as a commissioner … appears to have participated in a vote on an agenda item that affected a nonprofit entity … in which (she) appears to have a substantial interest.”
According to the complaint, that vote “resulted in a recommendation to (City) Council for funding to (Latino HealthCare Forum).” Council approved funding for the program, including extensions of $200,000 as part of the Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget.
López-Aguilar did not disclose her connection with the organization and auditors said that she admitted to them that she voted on the item but “did not feel she had a conflict since she believed that her salary would not be directly paid by the recommended funds.”
Her boss, Jill Ramirez, who chairs the commission, did recuse herself on the item, according to the complaint. López-Aguilar did not respond to a request for comment. She was appointed by Mayor Steve Adler.
Wiebe also alleged in another complaint that Clifford Gillard, a member of the African American Resource Advisory Commission, participated in evaluating funding proposals for the nonprofit Capitol View Arts. Gillard serves on the board of directors of the organization and was president last year, in addition to being one of the nonprofit’s founders.
According to a complaint filed with the city’s Ethics Review Commission, Gillard failed to disclose his membership on the board of directors of the nonprofit and failed to indicate on an attendance sheet for a July 13, 2016, meeting of the commission that he had an alleged conflict of interest.
Although the commission recommended funding of $50,000 for the project, it did not make it into this year’s budget. He was appointed by Council Member Pio Renteria. Gillard did not respond to a request for comment.
Photo by John Flynn.
The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.
Join Your Friends and Neighbors
We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?