Only one day after I wrote about the difficulty in competing against a moneyed candidate, the moneyed candidate for the San Antonio City Council in District 8 received the worst sort of free media coverage. In a column in today’s Express-News, columnist Brian Chasnoff revealed that candidate Rolando Briones not only lied about his reason for leaving his job in 2002 at the San Antonio Water System (SAWS), but also covered up that he had been fired “for cause” for accepting gifts from SAWS contractors. Briones’s response – he believed accepting meals and golf outings from vendors was the normal course of doing business.
Although this conduct occurred more than a decade ago, Briones apparently has applied the same sort of ethics in building his multi-million-dollar engineering business as a government vendor. Last May, an article in local on-line newspaper Plaza de Armas wrote the following:
- If you’ve glanced through even a handful of local campaign finance reports, you’ve probably seen the name Rolando Briones, owner of Briones Engineering. He’s politically connected and a prolific contributor to City and County candidates. Well, Briones is also looking to make the leap from mini king-maker to candidate. We hear he’s busy lining up support to run next year in Council District 8.
And just a couple of months ago in November, a Chasnoff column in the Express-News pointed out that Briones was actively securing engineering contracts with the city of San Antonio earlier in 2012 while concurrently running for the Council, even though this was contrary to ethical precedent established by Councilwoman Chan a few years earlier.
In Chasnoff’s column today, Briones attempted to justify his departure from SAWS in 2002, and his justification is both surprising and ironic – “I thought [SAWS] was a very military-esque environment.” It is surprising that an aspiring San Antonio politician would be critical of a “military-esque environment,” and it is ironic that someone who prefers a more free-wheeling environment would want so badly to serve in the capacity of an elected representative, where even the apprear of impropriety is unacceptable.