A recent audit report has revealed that a high-level executive’s administrative assistant at Austin City Hall has misused official city resources and time in order to sell beauty products as part of her second job.
Mary Lou Rodriguez, the assistant to Ray Baray, who himself is the chief of staff for interim City Manager Elaine Hart, is said to have handed out official business cards for her beauty and skin care business while also conducting work on the clock at City Hall. Additionally, Rodriguez is also said to have sold jewelry directly from her desk, as well as in the lobby of the city manager’s office, where she often solicited other employees, according to an official complaint that was filed against her.
According to an investigation, Rodriguez allegedly sold items to approximately 20 individuals at City Hall and kept invoices and other types of records on her city computer. Furthermore, she is also said to have used that same computer to both order products and check the official email account listed on her beauty consulting business card. Rodriguez’s work computer also allegedly showed display photos of the items that she was selling, all of which were taken at her place of employment.
Rodriguez has since been placed on administrative leave and it will be decided by her supervisor early next week whether or not any disciplinary action will be imposed against her due to the auditor’s office’s findings. According to the official investigation report, there is no mention of punishment recommendation.
Rodriguez herself has also responded to the allegations against her, saying that there is a “misconception” that she runs any kind of a side business selling beauty products. She stated that it’s more of a hobby that she enjoys and has shared with others. She also states that she does not have a side business of any kind and also does not solicit anyone while at work. Rodriguez further states that she has been approached by others for items that she personally has at her own home and has brought in items to her fellow co-workers, yet does not have display items, nor has she set up any kind of a store. Furthermore, she states that she has given items to co-workers as gifts at her own expense.
Rodriguez has been an Austin city employee since 2006 and, according to the report, she told investigators that she had been moonlighting as an independent beauty consultant as selling jewelry occasionally. The official investigation determined that approximately 20 city employees had been her customers, and the auditor’s office found images on Rodriguez’s work computer of both her official business card and a 2014 flyer which stated that she started a business as the aforementioned consultant.
In the meantime, Baray has since stated in a memo that the city manager’s office will be reviewing the investigation to determine if any additional steps will need to be taken.
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