Saturday, September 15, 2012

Serving Two Nations a Conflict for Luz Robles?

An interesting article appeared in the Chicago Tribune in September of 2005 that examines the appropriateness of an elected state senator (of Illinois) seeking a simultaneous position as an elected representative of the Mexican government on an advisory board representing Mexicans living in the United States.

The article, "Cicero lawmaker's hat in Mexico race,"  is available at:

The article raises the issue of a conflict of interest - an issue applicable to the case of Luz Robles.

Ms. Robles was seeking, at the same time as Illinois state Senator Martin Sandoval (the subject of the article), a position on the Consejo Consultivo del Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (CCIME).

The issue is actually more important in the case of Luz Robles because she went on to win her election and serve for three years on the CCIME (2006-2008), whereas Sandoval was not elected. 

Regarding the CCIME itself, the article states:

"...As president, he [Fox] formed an Institute for Mexicans Abroad to coordinate all Mexican Cabinet agencies that serve immigrants in the United States.

As part of the institute, Fox also created an advisory council of 115 U.S.-based representatives to float policy suggestions to the Mexican government."

The CCIME, therefore, is an advisory board made up of Mexicans (and Mexican-Americans) who are elected by geographic region in the United States.  The group meets twice each year as a body to work on recommendations to the Mexican government on issues of importance to Mexicans living abroad - primarily in the United States.  How far the advisors drift from that innocuous sounding goal is an issue for another time. 

For more background on this board and Luz Robles' role on it, see the "Luz Robles Report" available at at:

One key issue raised in the Chicago Tribune article that applies to Senator Luz Robles, therefore, is the conflict of interest issue.

You may recall, Luz Robles, prior to her taking office as an elected state senator in Utah, held an appointed position in the Utah state government as Director of the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs.

She held this position from November 2005 to September 2007.   For most of that time, she also served on the CCIME (for the period of January 2006 - September 2007). 

In the Illinois debate on this issue, the article tells us:

"Sandoval would be the first elected official in the U.S. to serve on the advisory council. That raises the peculiar prospect of the Cicero Democrat offering policy advice in an official capacity to Mexican Cabinet members while creating laws in Illinois.

The possibility has some observers praising his vision while others blast his judgment, calling the potential moonlighting arrangement a conflict of interest."

Indeed, Mr. Stanley Renshon is quoted as follows in the article:

 "The idea that somebody can hold two responsible positions in two governments at the same time is a psychological and political absurdity," said Renshon, who is scheduled to testify before Congress this fall about the dangers of dual citizenship. "It's worse than a conflict of interest. It's a conflict of community responsibility."

That incompatibility, noted by Mr. Renshon, is the same incompatibility that would have applied to Luz Robles holding her position as Director of the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs while serving the Mexican government on the CCIME. 

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