June 29, 2015

Balderas rebuts Duran campaign finance accusations

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Secretary of State Dianna Duran went after Attorney General Hector Balderas for three what she said were three campaign finance reports that were filed late.

Money flyingHowever the apparent attempt to show Balderas was a hypocrite seems to lack teeth, as the Attorney General provided proof that two of the reports were filed on time and that his campaign accepted any fines for the third.

Earlier in June, Balderas had suggested that the Secretary of State back legislation to reimpose mandatory fines. A change in law in the early 1990s gave the Secretary of State discretion over levying fines for campaign finance violations.

The Albuquerque Journal first reported on the dispute between the two offices. Balderas said if such a mistake was made involving his reports, it could happen to others as well.

“I am very concerned about the integrity of the data and records at the Secretary of State’s Office, and I’m also very concerned that other candidates may have been falsely accused as well,” Balderas said Thursday.

A spokesman for Duran said later that she had relied on incorrect information from a staffer in making the allegations about Balderas’ late reports.

The two statewide elected officials have been at odds over penalties for campaign finance violations for weeks. A pledge to work together and create a Campaign Finance Reporting Task Force seemed to be a step towards the two working together, but the recent dustup between the two over campaign finance shows they are still not on the same page.

In one of the reports that was filed a day after the deadline, Balderas produced an email from Duran’s office saying that campaign finance reports would be allowed a day late because of the Columbus Day holiday. In another, which was 140 days late according to the Secretary of State, he received an email from the Secretary of State’s office informing him that the report was received on time.

The third, which Balderas said was filed two days late because of a personal problem, came with an email acknowledging the report was late and accepting any fines that would come along with filing late.

The task force, which met twice, came out of concerns that the Secretary of State was referring few violations to the office of the Attorney General and collecting few fines for violations.

Documents from both offices though the Inspection of Public Records Act found just two recent referrals to the Attorney General’s office. Both started before Balderas became Attorney General at the beginning of 2015.

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