Former Healthcare District CEO Enjoyed Fine Dining, Fine Wine, Appetizers, Desserts, Cigars and More While Courting Power, Receipts Show
PALM SPRINGS — Dr. Conrado Bárzaga, who in September was relieved of his duties as CEO of the Desert Healthcare District, enjoyed fine dining, drinking wine and martinis, courting the favor of embattled Democratic Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and purchasing cigars as gifts —all at taxpayers’ expense, according to receipts Uken Report has obtained.
The receipts speak for themselves. Charges were put on the former CEO’s credit card. He sought reimbursement.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on April 21, Bárzaga spent more than $300 at the Pivat Cigar Lounge at Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage. According to the receipt, there were zero guests and he was served on the patio. So, were they gifts? A treat to himself?
One of the cigars cost $40. Cohiba Serie M Cigars are the latest in the brand’s distinguished line of artisanal blends, personally supervised by a modern-day tobacco virtuoso. See the receipts here: https://ukenreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/DHC-Epenses-for-Cigars-alcohol-etcc-2-1.pdf.
He spent just shy of $7,000 on a holiday party for DHCD at the Indian Wells-based Renaissance Esmerelda & Spa https://ukenreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/12/DHC-Epenses-for-Cigars-alcohol-etcc-1.pdf.
About 6 p.m. on July 18, Bárzaga met with Garcia; Darrell Mike, chair of the Coachella-based Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians; and apparently some staff for about three hours over martinis and sushi at Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar in La Quinta. See the receipts here: DHC Epenses for Cigars, alcohol, etcc (1)
“To be clear, Chairman Mike attended the meeting for legitimate business purposes, and certainly did not drink any martinis,” Michael E. Weinsten, the tribe’s attorney, told Uken Report. “The purpose of the meeting was a pitch to the Tribe to effectively donate tribal land to build a much-needed medical facility. Chairman Mike had no knowledge whatsoever as to who was paying the bills….”
The Chairman and the Tribe were there for a legitimate business meeting and had no knowledge of any alleged wrongdoing by Mr. Barzaga, Weinstein said.
It was not the first time Bárzaga showed favor toward the Democratic Assemblymember and his staff.
Bárzaga gave permission for DHCD Director Kimberly Barraza, who is a field representative for Garcia, (and two children) to stay the weekend in New York on the District’s dime. She received authorization to stay at the Westin Hotel in Times Square until Sunday, July 16th, but why? The conference she attended ended on Thursday.
He also spent just shy of $300 on Feb. 9 for two guests for a “Lift to Rise” meeting, according to the receipts. Lift to Rise is a collaboration of more than 70 partners, including private and public sector leaders and community advocates, working on a bold plan to radically increase housing stability and economic mobility for everyone in the Coachella Valley.
Sources knowledge of DHCD have repeatedly said Bárzaga spent money “like a drunken sailor.”
The receipts appear to tell a similar story.
The Foundation does have some financial resources that are not public funds, but it is not immediately clear if that’s what he used.
- Cigars,In,The,Humidor: Shutterstock