Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who Paid For Luz Robles' CCIME Mexico Trips?

Who paid for Luz Robles' CCIME Mexico trips?

Recall that before Luz Robles became a Utah state senator, she filled a three-year term as an advisor on the Consejo Consultivo del Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior (CCIME).

This was 2006 - 2008.

During much of that time (January 2006 - September 2007), she also served Utah as the Director of the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) - a position she was appointed to by Governor Jon Huntsman.

During her time as the Director of the OEA, Luz Robles made three trips to Mexico City to participate as an advisor on the CCIME.  The President of Mexico participated at all three of these meetings.  President Fox was at the first two and President Calderon was at the third.

Serving Mexico on the CCIME and holding a Utah government position were in conflict.  This conflict issue was also raised regarding an Illinois state senator seeking a CCIME position in a 2005 Chicago Tribune article:

The conflict issue, in the case of Luz Robles, was considered in a more extensive report about Luz Robles which is available at:

It was also considered briefly in a recent blog post about Luz Robles:

Service on the CCIME is non-paid.  Luz Robles was not, therefore, paid a salary for her time and service to Mexico on the CCIME.

But were her travel expenses paid by Mexico?

The issue of reimbursement for travel expenses for CCIME advisors was also briefly raised in the Chicago Tribune article:

"But the advisory council is part of the official flowchart of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad. And the Mexican government reimburses advisory council members for two annual meetings in Mexico City and two other meetings at various U.S. locations.

Mexico solicits private sponsorship for most of the reimbursement but government funds cover part of the expenses, Gomez said."

This article appeared prior to Luz Robles beginning her term on the CCIME.  But it raises an interesting issue.

Was Mexico paying the travel expenses of those on the CCIME advisory board?

Even if part of the funds came from outside sources, as suggested by this article, reimbursing travel expenses stands out as a type of perk.  If Luz Robles was indeed reimbursed by Mexico for travel, then that perk was going to a Utah public official in order to permit her to serve the nation of Mexico at a time she was employed by the state of Utah.  

This information comes from a third-party source (Chicago Tribune), is there more direct evidence that Luz Robles received travel subsidies to Mexico City to serve the nation of Mexico?

Indeed there is.

Three brief notes about being reimbursed for travel appear in issues of Informe - CCIME (a newsletter of the CCIME) during 2008. They are reproduced below.

From March 2008:

"The IME hereby urgently requests counselors who have not done it, to confirm your attendance at the XI Meeting of the CCIME; and report the total cost of your plane ticket to the email:

Failure to do so before April 8, 2008, you will be subject to space availability."

("Por este medio el IME solicita urgentemente a los consejeros que no lo han hecho, confirmar su asistencia a la XI Reunión del CCIME; así como informar sobre el costo total de su boleto de avión al correo electrónico:

De no hacerlo antes del 8 de abril de 2008, quedarán sujetos a disponibilidad de espacio.")

Available at:

From September 2008:

"In preparation for the XII Ordinary Meeting of the CCIME to be held next 9 to 12 November, we will be very grateful to you:

1. To confirm your participation by email before Oct. 20

2. To buy your ticket to the Mexico City as soon as possible. In your consulate inform them about the maximum authorized reimbursements."

En preparación de la XII Reunión Ordinaria del CCIME a realizarse del 9 al 12 de noviembre próximo, mucho les agradeceremos:

1. Confirmar su participación al correo electrónico antes del 20 de octubre

2. Comprar su boleto de avión a la Ciudad de México lo más pronto posible. En su Consulado les informarán sobre los importes máximos de reembolsos autorizados.")

Available at:

From October 2008:

"As for the XII Ordinary Meeting CCIME, we hope you have already purchased your plane ticket bound for Mexico City, on the understanding that upon your return you will be reimbursed according to the amount you reported to your respective consulate."

("En cuanto a la XII Reunión Ordinaria del CCIME, esperamos que hayan comprado ya su boleto de avión con destino a la Ciudad de México, en el entendido de que a su regreso les será reembolsado de acuerdo a la cantidad que les informó su respectivo Consulado.")

Available at:

It appears, therefore, that Luz Robles was likely reimbursed for her travel to Mexico City to serve the Mexican government at a time in which she served as an appointed official of the Utah state government.

Such reimbursements appear to be the practice for members of the CCIME.

Whether the money did or did not come exclusively from the Mexican government (part of it may have come from solicited funds), the money appears to have been handled through some accountability process administered through the Mexican consulate system.

Of course, it is possible that Luz Robles paid for her own travel to and from Mexico City and to any other CCIME meetings she may have attended.  Even though this would have been a significant cost to her, it remains a possibility.

So, I will leave it an open question - with the evidence thus far pointing towards Mexico as being the most likely source of much of Luz Robles' travel expenses to and from Mexico or other locations for CCIME meetings.

If she would care to confirm my conclusion, contradict it, or to clarify this issue, I would be happy to post her reply on this blog.  

It is a significant ethical issue.

The voters of her current senate district deserve to know about Luz Robles' service to Mexico on the CCIME and whether or not Mexico paid the bulk of her travel costs to and from the meetings - especially those she attended while Director of the Utah Office of Ethnic Affairs.

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