Hidalgo County’s legal counsel OKs RMA appointment

EDINBURG — The Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority board met Tuesday afternoon, but did not swear in a newly appointed board member who is related to Precinct 1 County Commissioner David Fuentes.

Local developer and attorney Ezequiel Reyna Jr. is in line to become the newest member of the RMA’s board of directors after being appointed earlier this month by his nephew, Fuentes, to the powerful board.

Reyna’s appointment, however, triggered a review by the county’s legal counsel in an effort to comply with state law, which addresses nepotism concerns.

After two weeks of deliberation and research, Steve Crain, the county’s attorney, returned to Fuentes with a legal opinion: there were no conflicts of interest or nepotism violations, Fuentes said.

“I received that opinion, and I’m just considering how I’m going to act on it,” Fuentes said.

The issue was not discussed publicly during a regularly scheduled county meeting Tuesday.

“It’s an unpaid, uncompensated position,” the commissioner said about his uncle’s appointment. “He doesn’t have any conflicts with respect to land that he owns or any decisions that would be made that would benefit him individually or me in any capacity. So there’s no conflict of interest.”

Still, Fuentes appeared to mull his appointment.

“Technically, I have made a decision, and the board already took action on approving that appointment,” he said. “Whether I decide to change it or not, I’ll decide over the next week.”

Reyna’s appointment becomes effective Feb. 1, but the RMA board could not swear him in Tuesday because they have not been given the go-ahead by county officials, RMA administrative assistant Maria Alaniz said.

Hidalgo County commissioners are expected to meet again Jan. 30, but it’s unclear if there will be any discussion on the appointment.

nlopez@themonitor.com