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Cobos was in D.C., but what for?

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://newspapertree.com/politics/3128 Cobos was in D.C., but what for? by David Crowder Reyes’ office denied that the subject of Cobos meeting with the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2008
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      http://newspapertree.com/politics/3128

      Cobos was in D.C., but what for?
      by David Crowder
      Reyes’ office denied that the subject of Cobos' meeting with the congressman was U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton or the investigation. It was about a job. That is, if there might one for him in D.C.

      Posted on November 25, 2008
      El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos was making the rounds in Washington last week, but just what he was doing there depends on who one asks.

      He was spotted along the way by other El Pasoans, and the county auditor’s office reports that there was a $125 charge on the county credit card Cobos carries in Dallas, a stop-over, that Monday afternoon.

      He skipped the day’s Commissioners Court meeting (Monday, Nov. 17, 2008) and has since missed two special meetings of Commissioners Court.

      The auditor's office said the computer showed only "American" with no further indication of what the charge was for.

      Could have been his extra baggage. Or maybe he changed planes for the Dallas to Washington leg to get away from all the El Pasoans who recognized him.

      One account had him in the capital visiting the offices of U.S. Reps. Silvestre Reyes and Ciro Rodriguez in an effort to hook up with someone close to President-elect Barack Obama.

      The tale has him wanting to talk about the ongoing public corruption investigation in El Paso and how soon U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, a Bush appointee, would be out-going.

      That story led to others.

      Reyes’ office denied that the subject of Cobos meeting with the congressman was Sutton or the investigation.

      It was about a job, they said. That is, if there might one for him in D.C.

      His visit to Reyes' office was described as an unplanned courtesy call.

      Cobos has been a known target in the FBI’s public corruption investigation since early 2007 when FBI agents turned up in force at the courthouse to search his office and the offices of Commissioners Luis Sarinana and Miguel Teran.

      None of them has been charged, though nine others have pleaded guilty in the past 17 months to various bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges, including Cobos’ former chief of staff, Travis Ketner, who was the first to plead.

      Cobos’ term as county judge is supposed to last for two more years, so why he might be looking for a job is anybody’s guess.

      On checking with Rodriguez’s office, Press Secretary Phallan Davis, on her last day in that job, initially said Cobos came by last Tuesday as a “a last-minute thing … just a courtesy visit.”

      “What I understand they talked about was funding projects for El Paso … money for city buses for El Paso.”

      The idea of Cobos lobbying for the city’s Sun Metro department made little sense since the city has highly paid lobbyists to do that who are often assisted by the Mayor John Cook and other city officials.

      Asking the press secretary to try again, brought Rodriguez’s chief of communications, Josh Rosenbloom, to the phone.

      “He was visiting about rural bus stuff,” Rosenbloom said, adding that someone from the county’s lobby firm was with him.

      Rosenbloom described the visit as a courtesy call but then said it had been set up earlier.

      “He didn’t just show up on our doorstep,” Rosenbloom said.

      The county does provide limited bus service in rural areas and reportedly has two old buses due to be replaced by two more that are already in the pipeline. The money is budgeted.

      But the county doesn’t need any more buses.

      So they never talked about Sutton and the investigation?

      “No,” Rosenbloom said.

      So why was Cobos in Washington? He did not return Newspaper Tree’s call.
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