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2010: Former Tigua leader mulling Senate run

Albert Alvidrez, a former governor of the Tigua tribe in El Paso, is mulling a run for the Texas Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Sen. Eliot Shapleigh. But having Alvidrez in the Senate might not earn the tribe another vote for gambling rights.

Albert Alvidrez, a former governor of the Tigua tribe in El Paso, is mulling a run for the Texas Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Sen. Eliot Shapleigh.

He told the online publication the Newspapertree that he has put together an exploratory committee.

Alvidrez, in an e-mail, also told me: "there is truth to those rumors" that he is planning a Senate campaign.

A researcher at the Legislative Research Library said their records show no evidence that a tribal member has ever served in the Senate, so Alvidrez could be the first if he ran and won.

The tribe has been working to get the Legislature to pass a law allowing gambling on their El Paso reservation since 2001, when then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn filed a lawsuit that eventually ended in the closing of Speaking Rock Casino.

Speaking Rock is open now with a restaurant, an entertainment venue and limited gaming, but it generates only a fraction of the millions the tribe hauled in when the gambling was in full swing.

But having Alvidrez in the Senate might not earn the tribe another vote for gambling rights. As a tribal member, Alvidrez would receive a portion of the profits from any gambling the Tiguas conduct. So, if he were a senator, he could have a conflict of interest when it comes to voting on tribal gaming.

Here's what the Texas Ethics Commission's "A Guide to Ethics Laws for State Officers and Employees" says about legislators and conflicts of interest:

"If a board member has a private or personal interest in a measure, proposal, or decision pending before the board, the board member must disclose that fact to the rest of the board in an open meeting and must refrain from voting or otherwise participating in the matter. Gov’t Code § 572.058. The law specifies that a person does not have a "private or personal interest" in a matter if the person is engaged in a profession, trade, or occupation, and the person’s interest in the matter is the same as others similarly engaged."

We're a long way from worrying about that potential conflict, but it's interesting to ponder.

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