Express-News uncovers the bill on San Antonio officials’ trip to Israel to study clean energy

Israeli flag

Three San Antonio officials spent public money to pay for airfare and accommodations on a five-day trip to Israel to learn about that country’s clean energy and biomedical industries, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

The city of San Antonio bore trip costs for Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni. The San Antonio Water System paid for its CEO Robert Puente while CPS Energy footed the bill for Executive Vice-President and Chief Sustainability Officer Cris Eugster.

The trips for each official cost $3,700 for their tour packages and between $2,013 and $2,400 in airfare.

Mayor Julian Castro had his trip and accommodations paid for by the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, and Castro dipped into his campaign coffers to pay for chief of staff, Robbie Greenblum.

DiGiovanni’s girlfriend and Puente and Greenblum’s wives, who went along on the trip, paid for their own expenses, the newspaper said in its Thursday report.

Public officials can get their travel paid for through a variety of channels, from campaign funds and gifts from private individuals to the public dime.

Texas Watchdog has reported recently on state Rep. and Houston schools vendor Boris Miles, who has offered free trips to Costa Rica to trustees -- and to school officials across Texas -- and said he sees nothing wrong with it.

Texas Watchdog has also written on publicly-funded trips to Maui, disclosure problems that can keep the nature of official travel murky, and the poor policies that lead to high taxpayer bills for travel.
Contact Kevin Lee at 713-228-3733 or

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Photo of the flag of Israel by flickr user Templar1307, used via a Creative Commons license.