Former Blue Cares executive director says SAPOA leadership told her to create meeting records

SAN ANTONIO – The former executive director of Blue Cares, the nonprofit arm of the San Antonio Police Officers’ Association, said she was told by association leadership to create meeting records for a charitable bingo application last summer.

The revelation from Dr. Amanda Gonzalez, who resigned from Blue Cares earlier this year to run for Bexar County Precinct 1 commissioner, adds a layer of intrigue to her runoff election later this month against incumbent Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores.

Blue Cares last year began the process of applying to the Charitable Bingo Division of the Texas Lottery Commission, according to records obtained by KSAT Investigates.

The nonprofit hoped to partner with a North Side bingo establishment to raise funds for the organization, multiple sources confirmed to KSAT.

The application requirements, however, included providing meeting minutes for Blue Cares from at least one meeting each of the last three years.

SAPOA members said they did not attend meetings

Paperwork was created for meetings that supposedly took place on August 9, 2021, February 1, 2022, and January 10, 2023, records obtained by KSAT show.

The minutes were labeled Blue Cares SAPOA Outreach Executive Board Meeting and included agenda items and questions asked by supposed attendees of the meetings.

In June, Gonzalez sent an email to SAPOA Treasurer Jason Sanchez in which she wrote, “Jason-Attached are the meeting notes you requested I create to help us meet the requirement to submit our application for the Texas Lottery Commission – Charitable Bingo Application.”

June 2023 email from Dr. Amanda Gonzalez to SAPOA Treasurer Jason Sanchez. (KSAT)

But the veracity of the records has been called into question.

A SAPOA board member listed as being present at one of the Blue Cares meetings confirmed to KSAT that they were not there. Records provided to KSAT show they were actually on medical leave from the police department when the meeting supposedly took place.

A second SAPOA board member, through their attorney, confirmed to KSAT that they were listed as present and as having even asked a question at one of the meetings, even though the officer was not there.

In a phone interview, Gonzalez told KSAT that SAPOA executive staff told her to look for dates SAPOA’s board met and create notes from there.

Gonzalez agreed to sit down with KSAT for an interview but canceled a day later, saying she was tied up with the upcoming election and caring for a sick relative.

Gonzalez’s claims drew a stiff rebuke from SAPOA President Danny Diaz.

“She wasn’t ordered to do anything other than to do her job. All she did was let us know that she wasn’t doing part of her job that she should have been doing,” said Diaz.

He added that Gonzalez would take notes on Blue Cares-related items during SAPOA meetings but was not formatting them as meeting minutes that would then be approved at the next meeting.

“They weren’t kept in a way that they should have been done,” said Diaz.

Diaz, who confirmed Sanchez went as far as to get certified to run charitable bingo events, said the organization eventually pulled out of the application process and no longer plans to pursue charitable bingo disbursements.

“We went and met with our attorneys and our accountants and explained our concerns and they told us, ‘If you think and feel that there’s any question in this, don’t do it.’ So, we never filed it,” said Diaz.

Texas Lottery records confirm the entity did not receive an application for charitable bingo from Blue Cares.

Gonzalez, in a written statement, said she was proud of her time with Blue Cares and pushed back on Diaz’s criticism:

“I struggle to understand how my former boss, John Danny Diaz, thinks attacking me politically does anything to further the organization’s mission of bridging the gap between the community and police. I am both humbled and honored to have the support of many of the brave men and women who are members of the association who I have had the pleasure of working alongside to promote safer communities. My genuine hope for my former boss is to stop playing politics and get back to the important work of serving his membership and the community.”

Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group, gives Blue Cares a 63% rating and just two out of four stars.

Blue Cares was docked rating points for having zero board members who are independent of SAPOA.

Asked about the low rating, Diaz told KSAT, “That needs to change. We’re doing the best we can with what we have available to us.”

He said the search for a new executive director for Blue Cares continues.

A complaint was filed with SAPD in recent weeks by a SAPOA member claiming that the organization had created “false committee meeting minutes” related to the bingo application.

An SAPD spokeswoman confirmed to KSAT via email, “The Department investigated the complaint and found no evidence to the claims. The case was unfounded.”

SAPOA makes no endorsement in Precinct 1 race

Gonzalez captured 20% of the vote in the six-person March Democratic primary to move on and face Clay-Flores in the May 28 runoff election. Clay-Flores’ 46.1% of the vote was not enough to win the primary outright.

The winner of this month’s runoff faces Republican Lina Prado in the November election.

Asked about the records dispute between Gonzalez and SAPOA, Clay-Flores told KSAT, “It’s scary to think if someone were to get into any position, what a mess they might make of the responsibilities they have to the constituents.”

Neither candidate received the endorsement of SAPOA, either for the March primary or for this month’s runoff.

“There’s reasons why you don’t endorse individuals after they were your employees. You see a lot of things when people work for you,” said Diaz, when asked why SAPOA had not endorsed Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has not been implicated in any professional misconduct in connection with her work as a Blue Cares employee.

An article posted to SAPOA’s website in early January thanked Gonzalez for her nearly three years of service and noted she was stepping down to pursue a political career.

The article included the following quote attributed to Diaz: “Over the years, Blue Cares has witnessed incredible growth under the leadership of Dr. Gonzalez. We are grateful for her contribution to the organization and wish her the very best in her pursuit for public office.”

The article was deleted from SAPOA’s website around the time KSAT interviewed Diaz. The website link now states, “Nothing here.”

“My thought process: she’s trying anything to discredit what we do because she’s upset she didn’t get the endorsement and she worked for us,” Diaz told KSAT.

SAPOA members slam $30,000 from Commissioner Clay-Flores for Blue Cares

In late January, Clay-Flores set aside $30,000 in outside agency funding for Blue Cares.

The action came the same month she had taken part in an endorsement interview with SAPOA.

Diaz, who made brief remarks at Bexar County Commissioners Court and was pictured with Clay-Flores holding a large check, defended accepting the funds during his interview with KSAT.

“You tell me who’s going to turn down $30,000 to give back to the community. That’s how I saw it,” said Diaz, who pointed out the funds were distributed to programs run or supported by Blue Cares, not SAPOA.

“We’re not talking about an issue here that relates to policing, as far as the city of San Antonio. What we’re talking about and our focus was, if the commissioner is willing to give us money that goes back to the community, to help citizens of San Antonio, that’s the focus,” said Diaz.

Danny Diaz (left), Rebeca Clay-Flores (middle) and Johnny Perez (right) pose with a large $30,000 check outside commissioners court earlier this year. (KSAT)

Some SAPOA members have slammed the decision to accept the funding, calling it a slap in the face of rank and file officers.

Clay-Flores has twice been endorsed by the Texas Organizing Project, a progressive political advocacy group that has backed efforts in recent years that would have stripped San Antonio officers of their collective bargaining rights (Prop B), and a second measure that would have expanded cite and release and decriminalized marijuana possession here (Prop A).

Prop B was narrowly defeated in 2021, while Prop A was defeated by a large margin last year.

“It went contrary to all the officers that stood out there at the polls, that fought against Prop B,” said a former SAPOA political action committee member who asked that we conceal their identity. “Our membership deserves proper representation. And these individuals don’t represent the spirit of our officers.”

Clay-Flores said SAPOA officials made it clear at the end of her endorsement interview that the association would not be publicly supporting a candidate in the Precinct 1 race.

“One of the things that’s really needed in Precinct 1 is better dialogue and community engagement in law enforcement presence,” said Clay-Flores.

“I like to spread the wealth and support things that are important to my constituents, important to myself,” said Clay-Flores, referring to the $400,000 in annual discretionary funding that she, the other commissioners and the county judge are each provided.

Clay-Flores and Diaz confirmed half of the $30,000 is going to the Patricia Calderon Scholarship Fund, named for the first female SAPD officer killed in the line of duty.

Clay-Flores said the scholarship funds are specifically allocated for students who live in her district.

Ten thousand dollars was directed to Blue Cares’ Blue Santa program, which provides food, clothes and toys to families in need during the holidays.

The remaining $5,000 was directed to an Edgewood veteran’s association supported by Blue Cares that provides winter clothing for children throughout the West Side school district.

The $30,000 in funding was directed to programs run or supported by Blue Cares. (KSAT)

Clay-Flores pointed out that roughly half of Edgewood Independent School District is in Precinct 1, her brother is a retired service member, she employs a veteran on her county staff and Precinct 1 has one of the largest veteran communities in San Antonio.

“As long as they are doing good work in my community then I’m going to support that,” said Clay-Flores.

Bexar County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores. (KSAT)

Clay-Flores acknowledged during an interview with KSAT that the Jan. 23 approval of funding did not follow the county’s traditional six business-day timeline for items to get placed on the court’s agenda.

“We don’t necessarily follow the timeline as long as it gets posted before the agenda posts on Friday afternoon, especially something like this. It’s discretionary funding,” said Clay-Flores, who added that Bexar County has a $3 billion annual budget and that the timeline is typically adhered to when it’s a larger monetary item that could require a discussion.

A picture of Diaz appears at the top of a campaign flyer for Clay-Flores for the May 28 runoff election and includes a quote from him that reads, “This is a perfect example of working together, setting aside any differences in order to accomplish what is needed for our community. We would like to thank Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores for help in awarding Blue Cares, our non profit organization with $30,000 to provide back into our community.”

Diaz said complaints about the $30,000 and issues with the charitable bingo application were dragged out publicly by members who are angry over their removal from SAPOA committees.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

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