DONNA, Texas – The hiring of a felon attorney by a Texas border school district appears to have been done under suspicious circumstances, highlighting yet again the cloud of corruption that hangs over the city. The hiring was not done through regular channels; instead, the school board president simply hired him without the school board ever voting on it.
Last November, when new members took over the Donna Independent School District (ISD) school board, one of their first actions was to fire their legal counsel and hire Robert J. Salinas. Salinas’ predecessor was paid $96,000 a year, but his contract provided for an annual base salary of $300,000 plus multiple perks, making him one of the highest paid school attorneys in the state, as Breitbart Texas reported. A copy of Salinas’ contract with the Donna ISD is embedded at the end of this article.
Perhaps most egregiously, the contract provides that Salinas’ base salary of $300,000 per year — or $25,000 per month — is to be paid for simply attending “all Regular Monthly meetings of the Board and all special meetings and workshops as may be held and as may be requested by the BOARD.” Any work Salinas performed besides mere attendance at meetings would be compensated at a rate of $225.00 per hour. All together, this is an extraordinarily generous contract, far in excess of the standard rate for school board or city attorneys.
As Breitbart Texas previously reported, Salinas spent 36 months in prison on federal money laundering charges in connection with drug trafficking activity.
As part of an in-depth investigation into Donna ISD, Breitbart Texas has discovered that the newly-elected board members gave board president Alberto Sandoval the “authority” to find a new school attorney, as confirmed by a well-placed source within the district.
Rather than go through a regular hiring process where aspiring attorneys submit their bids and have to disclose any criminal convictions or other blemishes on their records, Sandoval immediately went to Salinas and unilaterally hired him. Because he was hired in this direct way, without having to submit a formal bid for review, Salinas never disclosed to the school board the fact that he is a convicted felon and had lost his Texas Bar license for years, finally regaining admission to practice law a decade after his conviction.
Salinas’ contract further shows that the school board was not required to sign it, even though the contract was between him and the board. Sandoval, Salinas, plus the secretary of the board who signed as a witness, were the only ones that signed it.
Salinas is also the same attorney who, during a heated school board meeting, directed Donna ISD Police Chief Roy Padilla on how to handle a “political witch-hunt” disguised as a police investigation aimed at giving the school board an excuse to fire current superintendent Jesus Reyna, as Breitbart Texas previously reported. Under public scrutiny, the ploy backfired as Sandoval stormed out of the boardroom with misty eyes.