I became fascinated with Gerardo Menchaca the moment he hung up on me on a hot Friday in late June. He mentioned that he had been “slammed” by the media and had no interest in being interviewed for this profile. Gerardo, it was that click that did it for me. I was intrigued.
Gerardo Menchaca is a registered lobbyist with the city of San Antonio. In my opinion, he is on the verge of becoming one of San Antonio’s most powerful political bosses. He does not wear a real pinky ring, but it is right there for all to see.
Mr. Menchaca is a native of Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. In 2002, he became licensed to practice law in Texas after graduating from St. Mary’s Law School. After a stint at the law firm of Escamilla & Poneck, he is now practicing with Bozada PC, which lists “Government Affairs” as one of their practice areas. According to its website, the law firm helps “clients develop and implement comprehensive business solutions that often require legislative, regulatory or public finance considerations.”
Mr. Menchaca registered as a lobbyist with the City on June 29, 2007. Two years later, he claimed 14 clients, including the Greater San Antonio Transportation Company and Chris Ruddy out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The first firm has an interest in cabs and taxis. The latter business focuses on garbage-cart cleaning services.
Mr. Menchaca is everywhere. Go to the Walker Report blog (where I am a blogger) and enter his full name. The past year has been a whirlwind of activity for this young man. He was an Alamo City fundraising coordinator for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in her recent run in the Democratic primary. He has attended fundraisers for the following potpourri of individuals: candidate for United States Senate Rick Noriega, Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson, State Representative Ruth Jones McClendon, Councilman Justin Rodriguez, Councilman Philip Cortez, Mayor Phil Hardberger, Congressman Charlie Gonzalez, and Councilwoman Lourdes Galvan. Amazing!
For the record, I cringe when I see that on May 30, 2007, Mr. Menchaca was the fundraising coordinator for a Lourdes Galvan event at Mi Tierra. On May 7 of that year, he made a donation of $500 to her campaign. And then on June 29, he registered as a lobbyist with the City of San Antonio.
There is nothing illegal about this situation, but it makes you sit back and think, “This dude is playing Russian Roulette in the game of San Antonio politics.” There are folks who have spent time in jail for playing this game too aggressively. You want to give the man a chill pill before he overplays his hand à la T.J. Connolly — who might yet go to jail if convicted of campaign-finance violations. `See “Devil in a blue suit,” June 4-10, 2008.`
Last week I spoke to former city councilman and unofficial mayoral candidate Julian Castro about Gerardo Menchaca, who served as Castro’s deputy campaign manager for fundraising in his 2005 run for mayor. City campaign-finance records dated October 10, 2007 show that Castro received $6,000 in “Campaign Services” as an “expenditure” by Mr. Menchacha. Castro spoke very highly of Menchaca as someones who’s “reliable,” “energetic,” “up-and-coming,” and who “represents his clients with enthusiasm.” He imagines Menchaca will play “some role” in his new campaign.
District 8 City Councilman Diane Cibrian made it clear to me on July 14 that there will be no “registered city lobbyists” in her campaign for mayor when I asked about Menchaca. Gerardo was a “volunteer” in her campaign for her District 8 seat, but he became a “registered lobbyist after election day,” according to Cibrian. She claims she was not pleased about his new career choice
Will Menchaca be involved in her mayoral campaign in any way? “You can forget it!” Cibrian exclaimed. She went on to say it is “so important to be above reproach,” adding that she wants to send a “strong message about ethics and government.” Julian, I’d put on your hard hat.
Menchaca called me back 30 minutes after he hung up on me. He explained that someone “important” told him to get off the phone. He encouraged me not to write this piece because it was unnecessary. I beg to differ.
As a successful and influential lobbyist, Mr. Menchaca has an edge over every citizen in this city at the ballot box. His ability to campaign for and fund candidates for city council means he has the political power to influence public policy and major decisions at council chambers.
Mr. Menchaca’s imaginary pinky ring is getting shinier and heavier with every donation, fundraiser, and campaign strategy session he is involved with. As his list of important clients grows, the pinky ring will demand attention, and it will get it as the years go by. That, my friends, is as good as gold. •