SAN ANTONIO — Questions surround the hiring of one of the newest employees of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.
On January 14, Robert Vargas III began work at BSCO as a change management specialist.
According to the sheriff's office, his job is to "affect cultural change within BCSO by serving as a conduit to all levels of government and constituents."
"The fact is I needed somebody that is an expert in legislative issues, an expert in local government, and relationship building and Robert Vargas is all of those things,” explained Sheriff Salazar.
We obtained an internal document showing three people interviewed for the job, but the Sheriff's office redacted the names of the other two and won't respond to our request asking why.
Last year, Vargas worked for and donated to Salazar's personal election campaign.
The most recent campaign finance reports reveal Vargas made three in-kind donations of $1,500 for consultation.
According to the reports, Vargas was also paid for work he did on Salazar's campaign.
This year he'll make about $60,000 from Bexar County.
When asked if Vargas was still working on his campaign, Salazar said not on county time.
“No. I'm not campaigning right now, as I mentioned. One of the things that Robert Vargas does from time to time on the campaign side of things for me is...web design on my website. He should be doing that from time to time over the next couple of months, but he'll do that on his own time - not on county time for sure,” said Salazar.
Salazar says his campaign isn't active right now but says he is currently fundraising. On Facebook, you can find those events.
He says fundraising and online posts promoting his re-election are being run by his family.
When asked if the Vargas hire was a conflict of interest, Salazar said he’s aware of the optics but doesn’t believe it’s an issue.
“Of course and I'm very cognizant of public opinions. Not only does everything we do have to be right; it has to look right,” he said.
According to a Bexar County spokesperson, employees are allowed to participate in political activities. But they can't do so while on duty, in uniform, or while using county property.
Online we found posts from Vargas's Facebook page supporting Texas Democrats - during County business hours.
"I don't know what it is that he's posted, so I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about that,” said Salazar.
County Judge Nelson Wolff declined to comment on Vargas being added to the county payroll.
As for Vargas, one question remains.
Asked if he would leave BCSO to work on the Sheriff’s upcoming campaign, Salazar says the conversation hasn’t come up yet.
“We actually haven't had that conversation. I don't anticipate that happening. He seems very happy in the job that he's doing. We're certainly happy with the depth he's brought to the sheriff's office,” he said.