The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has named an interim president and CEO after Javier Palomarez of Dallas exited the top post on Feb. 13. But it’s unclear whether the battle between Palomarez and chamber chairman emeritus Nina Vaca of Dallas will be settled anytime soon.
Palomarez, who served as the national organization’s president and CEO for nearly 11 years, was accused of financial impropriety and sexual harassment by members of the chamber late last year. According to a petition filed in Dallas County district court, Palomarez was “terminated … following a board presentation by Vaca.” The petition says Vaca alleged “overcompensation” by Palomarez of as much as $1.5 million. Since then, the chamber’s outside counsel said an investigation had determined that “the salary paid was appropriate, and that the board [would not take any] further action against Mr. Palomarez.” The chamber has yet to respond to a request for comment on the sexual harassment allegations.
Palomarez, however, denies any wrongdoing during his time at the chamber, saying that the allegations stem from an affair gone sour with Vaca, the CEO of Dallas’s Pinnacle Group, who found the alleged financial impropriety as she was reviewing Palomarez’s contract for renewal.
“About two years ago, I broke off the relationship,” Palomarez told D CEO magazine, claiming the “intimate relationship” began in 2010. “I said … ‘I love you dearly and have all the respect for you in the world, but I’m not marrying you and I’m not going to leave my wife.’ [Nina] wouldn’t have it … One argument led to another to another to another.”
Vaca’s lawyer vigorously denies Palomarez’s claim. “Mr. Palomarez has mischaracterized their friendship in a way designed to deflect attention and get retribution against Nina for raising the original financial concerns,” Charla Aldous of Aldous\Walker LLP said. “It’s been reported that the chamber ultimately acted to remove Mr. Palomarez from his role, so they at least saw past the deflection and attempted bullying.”Read More