June 1, 2015

No answers on how many campaign finance violations sent to AG

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No one knows, or will say, how many campaign finance violations are being sent to the Attorney General by Secretary of State Dianna Duran.

Money flying_sidewaysThat is what a report by Farmington Daily-Times has found. The newspaper has been covering the issue for months, initially reporting that over 60 percent of fines for campaign finance violations were never collected.

From the report:

During the 2012 and 2014 primary and general election, Secretary of State Dianna Duran collected only 4 percent of the 1,984 fines her office assessed, according to a Daily Times analysis of the office’s campaign finance data, which were obtained in an Inspection of Public Records Act request. She waived 34 percent of the other fines, and her staff had not collected another 62 percent, according to the data analysis.

This led Attorney General Hector Balderas to say he was ready for any referrals from the office of Secretary of State Dianna Duran. At that time, Balderas said his office had not received any referrals on campaign finance violations from Duran.

This came shortly before an announcement of a task force on campaign finance violations.

All this happened in February.

A follow up report last week by the Daily Times said that Balderas’ office confirmed that violation referrals have been sent to his office but could not identify how many.

Since February, Duran’s office had not responded to any Daily Times questions about how her office enforces the Campaign Reporting Act. But Ortiz on Friday answered questions in an email. He declined to conduct a phone interview.

But he did not say when Duran’s office began auditing reports. He declined a follow-up phone interview, and a series of question emailed to him — including one that asked when Duran’s office began auditing reports — were not answered Friday.

Now, the story has been getting more widespread coverage, as the Associated Press picked up the story on Sunday.

Transparency promised

Shortly after the first reports in February, Duran and Balderas announced a campaign finance task force made up of staff members from each office.

“Since taking office in 2011, I and my staff have worked diligently to address the numerous issues and problems related to the campaign reporting act. We have made many improvements in working towards voluntary compliance and education,” Duran said in a statement announcing the task force. “I am excited to work with Attorney General Balderas in forming a task force that will look into the many areas within the Act, that need to be addressed, in order to assure transparency and accountably [sic].”

Balderas also mentioned transparency in his statement on the task force.

“I’m pleased to join Secretary of State Dianna Duran in forming a task force to determine potential problem areas involving campaign finance reporting, to improve and enhance the referral process, and to create reasonable remedies for candidates who fail to report,” Balderas said. “I am focused on putting real teeth into the law and will present legal solutions to the legislature on these issues. I believe that our joint effort will allow us to develop more transparent, and effective safeguards for New Mexico voters and taxpayers.”