Cobos challenges El Paso Times publisher and editorialists, beats on the newspaper's door
by Sito Negron and David Crowder
Posted on December 12, 2008
In a wild scene on the doorstep of the El Paso Times Friday, El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos attacked the newspaper for an editorial the previous day that wished for Cobos' resignation.
After addressing reporters, Cobos called for Times Publisher and President Ray Stafford and editorial writers Joe Muench and Charles Edgren to come out and debate him.
Cobos said the Times' top editors, and in particular the editorial writers, do not reflect the El Paso community, and he used class and ethnicity to draw a distinction between the newspaper and the El Paso he said he represents.
"There are two groups of El Pasoans," he said, reading from a prepared statement.
One is the politically influential group, he said, that is 5 percent of the population but controls 95 percent of the wealth. He represents the others, Cobos said. Read the statement, and the letter to Stafford, via the link below the story and video clip.
"I believe that the public knows that this newspaper is controlled by a handful of people, is influenced by a handful of rich people, and it's time that this community stand up to this monopoly-owned newspaper and reject the divisive reporting, to reject the crabs-in-a-bucket syndrome."
He went on to say, "“We’re bringing this to the forefront. I want El Pasoans to know that I work for the average worker. I don’t work for these individual power groups who wield tremendous money and influence.
“I believe the El Paso Times is attempting to break me. They’re attempting to control my votes and actions on the Commissioners Court.”
Asked twice by Newspaper Tree about whether last year's allegations against him by his former chief of staff, Travis Ketner, might be behind the rumors of his resignation from office, Cobos said those questions were off the subject.
“This press conference is called as a result of yesterday’s malicious newspaper article,” he said, referring to the Times editorial page opinions. “What I would say is I have not been called by any federal agency.
“I have not talked to any federal agency a year and a half later. … But, I think that the powers that be would rather have this hanging over my head.”
In the federal document containing the charges to which Ketner pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and other offenses, Cobos is clearly referred to Co-Conspirator John No. 5.
As such, Ketner accused him of, among other things, meeting in his office bathroom with a company representative on Jan. 7, 2007 and arranging campaign contributions for himself and two other officials in exchange for the company’s support on Commissioners Court.
In addition to attacking the Times, Cobos said he would not accept the resignation of his chief of staff, Jaime Perez, who tendered the resignation in a letter to the media late Wednesday. [Cobos might not resign, but Perez apparently will]
“He is a valuable asset to my office and to the taxpayers of El Paso County,” he said. “I will have no further comment on this matter.”
The news conference featured moments of political theater, as Cobos attempted to hand-deliver the letter to Stafford's office, only to be blocked by a Times employee at first and then, after the employee moved, by the locked doors.
“They have barred my entry!” Cobos shouted.
At one point, he beat on the Times’ locked glass doors as employees of the newspaper, including Edgren, stood just on the other side.
Cobos pushed his letters to Stafford and the two editorial writers through the slit between the doors into Edgren’s hands.
NPT TV: Cobos, at the doors
The Times has issued no official statement, and the newspaper’s new editor, Chris Lopez, could not be reached for comment.
The paper' editorial came after several weeks of speculation about Cobos' future, following a report in NewspaperTree.com that Cobos, who missed several county meetings in a row, was in Washington, D.C., and might be looking for a job. [Cobos was in D.C., but what for?, Nov. 25, 2008]
NPT then reported that Perez had requested a legal opinion on the process to replace a county judge who resigns. [Possible Cobos resignation confirmed by request for legal opinion on his replacement]
Cobos denied he was going to resign. This week, the Times reported that county sources confirmed that Cobos had been making resignation plans, prompting Cobos to call a news conference to denounce the reporting and the rumors, for which he placed the blame on NPT and County Commissioner Veronica Escobar. [Cobos denies and accuses]
Yesterday, the Times ran its editorial.
"Anthony Cobos resignation: With any luck, it's fact, not rumor," the editorial stated that "Cobos' political house of cards is falling in around him. The county judge figures in the ongoing FBI investigation into public corruption, though he hasn't been accused, indicted or arrested.
"Two of his erstwhile allies, county Commissioners Miguel Terán and Luis Sariñana, are on their way out of office and are also connected with the FBI investigation; their offices were raided by the feds in May 2007, along with that of Cobos."
After the news conference, as county employees loaded the podium that Cobos used for his comments, Cobos, Perez, and former city Rep. Alexandro Lozano, who showed up as the news conference was under way, walked together down Campbell Street, toward the county building.
Cobos starting the news conference, challenging the Times. Behind him is Chief of Staff Jaime Perez.
Cobos at the door, which was locked. In the video clip on this page, he berates Times editorial writer Charlie Edgren, who was on the other side of the door.
Most Viewed Stories
- Sex clubs and swingers in El Paso
- Bad Moon Rising: The Crisis in Ciudad Juarez
- Police Blotter 2.12.09: Bank robber nabbed; FBI says powder sent to offices not harmful; first homicide arrest; top collision intersections; 17-year-old shot self
- ABC-7 reporter and photographer handcuffed, detained while covering I-10 wreck
- Biz Briefs 6.8-12.09: Small business summit; Department of Labor forum
- El Paso on the stock market
- Pop Stars like JackO, Andy Warhol and Karen O make me proud to be an American
- Expert: Officer displayed 'contempt of cop' reaction; Internal Affairs record shows 12 disciplinary actions
- Fernando Parra Arrested
- Wardy Campaign Contributions Don't Add Up