Ahead of Runoff Election, Treviño Denies Ethics Accusations from Former Staffer

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Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) listens to a presentation at City Council B Session at Municipal Plaza Building.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) listens to a presentation at City Council B Session at the Municipal Plaza Building.

District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño has called accusations that he used City resources for his re-election campaign “unfounded and untrue,” adding that he and his staff “go through painstaking measures to make sure there’s an actual separation between campaign and City work.

“Ethics [are] very, very important in this role. We take that very seriously,” Treviño told the Rivard Report on Wednesday. “We consult with the City attorney’s office almost daily. That’s something that can be reported from many folks I work with and around City Hall.”

The accusations were made by Desireé Luckey, a former council aide to Treviño who worked for him beginning in January 2015. Luckey, who left Treviño’s office in June 2016 to attend Georgetown University Law School, said that she and other staffers were “explicitly asked” by Treviño Chief of Staff Jay Podjenski and Senior Policy Advisor Jed Maebius more than once to complete campaign assignments during work hours.

Luckey said Treviño once asked her to edit an infographic to be used at campaign and fundraising events.

“I can access the materials I edited that were originally for District 1 official use that were edited on City computers for campaign purposes,” Luckey told the Rivard Report via email Wednesday. “At the time, I didn’t have a functioning personal laptop, so I can say for sure all that I did was on City resources. I sat next to colleagues on the phone with donors in City Hall. A colleague and I sat in a zoning meeting working on a flyer and a constituent remarked on it.”

Since council aides are contract workers, Luckey said, she complied with each request and didn’t report being given the tasks for fear of potentially losing her job.

“Even if Treviño was not always aware of the political activity,” she added, “it certainly took place.”

Maebius, Podjenski, and Treviño said that they were surprised by Luckey’s comments, especially since they thought she left on good terms, attending an office holiday party last December, six months after she quit. For her part, Luckey said she bears Treviño no ill will.

“I hope, for the sake of D1 residents, that if he’s re-elected he’ll do a good job for the constituents,” she said. “But I think it’s important as people make decisions to be fully informed, and if campaign ethics are important to them, this is something they should know.”

Treviño faces local technology lawyer Michael Montaño in the District 1 runoff election on Saturday. Montaño had his own ethics called into question following the first round of balloting when news surfaced of a 2002 arrest on charges of voter fraud. Then a student at Yale University, Montaño allegedly falsely claimed to have witnessed voters’ signatures on absentee-ballot applications. The felony charges eventually were expunged from his record.

Montaño sees the latest accusations against Treviño as “only part of Treviño’s longstanding pattern of using taxpayer resources to promote his political career,” according to an email sent Wednesday from his campaign.

“District 1 residents now know that instead of answering their calls, Mr. Treviño has been using his office and taxpayers’ money to promote his political career—this is unacceptable,” Montaño said in a statement. “Public service is about serving the people, not serving yourself. Residents of District 1 deserve better.”

Treviño denied Montaño’s allegations.

“I don’t give any credence to what [Montaño] has to say,” he said. “He’s unfortunately been very accusatory from the get-go.”

Podjenski, who was worked for the Councilman for about two years, said that Treviño’s staffers are careful about keeping campaign activities separate from Council work.

“We’ve always made a very distinct line if anyone wants to volunteer on the campaign to make sure that that’s an open invitation and that staff doesn’t do campaign work on City time with City resources,” he said. “The councilman has always invited staff to attend his campaign events and there’s no compulsion for them to do so, and if they want to and are available, great, if they don’t, great. There are no penalties.”

Maebius has worked at City Hall since 2005, first as a City Council liaison for former Mayor Phil Hardberger and later for Hardberger’s successor, Julián Castro. Maebius assumed his post for Treviño after Castro left office.

“Since my role as the mayor’s liaison to the council,” Maibus said, “I worked with all the council members on a daily basis and [Treviño] certainly is at the top of the list in terms of passion for the job, his vision, and his ethics.”

6 thoughts on “Ahead of Runoff Election, Treviño Denies Ethics Accusations from Former Staffer

  1. Making serious accusations against other staff and not the councilman himself (“even if he wasn’t aware..” and waiting until you no longer live or work in the district to cry foul AND you go back for the holiday party freebies? Oh, and going hard on all social outlets against him, but then say you wish him no ill will? Nah. Come 💯 or sit down.

    That’s disrespecting too many other folks’ life work along the way. She should have stuck with her disgruntled former employee denied a promotion and raise bit. Por favor.

    #TeamJed #YoureNoMartyrMija

  2. The councilman is seemingly “unaware” of a lot of things, including my repeated attempts to get a meeting with him and have him attend our neighborhood association meetings. Calls go unanswered, messages aren’t returned, and he’s always MIA when it matters. He’s “unaware” of the needs of his residents in this district.

    Is he corrupt? Maybe. How about those “newsletters” that all of a sudden started coming to my inbox in regular intervals during election season? I didn’t even know he had my email address before.

    Is he incompetent ? Certainly. Let’s read the article again, or better yet, talk to anyone who lives in the district.

    I already wasn’t voting for him, and this is one more reason not to. Let’s clean house on June 10th.

  3. I recently called my D1 councilman to inquire directly about where he stood on a number of issues. An incompetent sounding woman who could not answer any of my questions told me she was “just the secretary.” I asked to speak to staff and she said they were all in a meeting. She asked if I would like to be called back and I told her I absolutely wanted to be called back. I was never called back. All I know is when Diego Bernal was our D1 councilman, he was very accessible and followed through with his constituents. Using him as an example, I have concluded that Trevino needs to be replaced.

  4. After Michael Montano and his political allies got another R. Trevino on the primary ballot, I would not be at all surprised to learn that they coordinated this stunt with Ms. Luckey. It’s strains credulity to believe that she just couldn’t hold it in anymore and had to bring this alleged ethical lapse to the public’s attention 4 days before the runoff election.

    More dirty tricks from the Montano campaign.

  5. Treviño needs to go. I’m tired of these vanity candidates who care more about kickbacks than actually bettering the lives of their constituents. He’s done nothing remarkable during his tenure other than ribbon cutting around downtown or throwing fancy events in rooftop bars. My family has lived in Beacon Hill for two generations and there’s still streets without sidewalks. He’s a joke without a punchline. Good riddance.

  6. Hmmmm. I’m a newbie and recently asked for his help in resolving a bee nest problem. We shall see.

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