The race for New Mexico governor is tight, while the incumbent Democratic U.S. senator holds a sizeable lead over his two challengers, according to a new poll from Emerson College. The poll, conducted last week, via calls to landlines and online surveys and released Monday morning, shows Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham with a two point lead over Republican nominee Steve Pearce, 42 percent to 40 percent. The poll shows 18 percent of voters polled are still undecided. The poll is of registered voters. Both candidates are leaving their respective congressional seats to run for governor.
A Georgia-based police body camera manufacturer is alleging Albuquerque officials used an “inappropriate and illegal” process to reach a tentative agreement with Taser International Inc. for cameras and online video storage at the state’s largest law enforcement agency. Ted Davis, president and CEO of Utility Associates, Inc., filed a formal protest this week saying Taser’s initial bid of $4.7 million should have been disqualified last year because it did not meet the city’s requirements spelled out in a request for proposals. Chief among Davis’ allegations is that Taser low-balled its initial bid by not including specific prices for cameras and other required equipment — a claim reviewed by a New Mexico In Depth using public records related to the RFP. “That should’ve been it,” Davis said in a telephone interview with NMID from his office in Decatur, Ga. “It should’ve been over at that point.”
Utility Associates would have won the contract because it scored second highest behind Taser among the city’s seven-member selection committee.
A complaint accuses an Albuquerque state representative of improperly directing state money toward a charter school project overseen by his brother. The complaint names Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, of the ethics violation. David Pacheco, an architect and Paul Pacheco’s brother, designed and oversaw construction in early 2015 of a campus building for ASK Academy, a charter school in Rio Rancho. The year before, Paul Pacheco requested $900,000 of state taxpayer money earmarked for capital outlay projects be used for the charter school. The state ended up awarding $230,000 that year to ASK Academy, which became part of a $6.9 million bond issued to ASK Academy in February 2015.
A Secretary of State candidate is accusing her opponent of an ethics violation for campaign contributions in 2014 from PACs unconnected to the campaign. Nora Espinoza, the Republican candidate, says that Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the Democrat, violated ethics rules when a donation from Verde Voters PAC paid money to another PAC, SOS for Democracy, earmarked for “TV ad buy–Maggie Toulouse Oliver.”
Both PACs are unconnected to the Toulouse Oliver campaign. The PAC-to-PAC donation happened during Toulouse Oliver’s first unsuccessful run for Secretary of State. Zach Cook, an attorney and state representative representing Espinoza’s campaign, wrote a complaint to the Secretary of State saying that state law says the PAC money transfer should be considered an in-kind donation to Toulouse Oliver’s campaign. Viki Harrison, the executive director of Common Cause New Mexico which advocates for campaign finance and ethics laws, said that this argument “just doesn’t make any sense.”
“The enforcement would be a nightmare because compliance would be impossible,” she said.
A former state senator who resigned last year after admitting to violating the state constitution now faces criminal penalties because of a real estate deal after the Attorney General’s office filed charges Monday in district court. Phil Griego faces charges of fraud, violating ethical principles of public service, bribery and solicitation, tampering with public records and violating the state Financial Disclosure Act. In all, the Democrat from San Jose faces nine charges, including multiple felonies
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information comes in. The investigation from the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas began a month after Griego resigned. Griego admitted at the time that he violated the New Mexico Constitution, a Senate Rule and the Senate Oath of Ethical Conduct.
A state grand jury has subpoenaed payroll records, documents related to legal interpretations, and correspondence between former Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz and Taser International, Inc., in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of contract rigging that Schultz has been unable to shake since they first arose in early 2014. Schultz is the focal point of three subpoenas obtained by New Mexico In Depth. They were served this summer on the Albuquerque Police Department, the city Inspector General’s Office and Taser, the nation’s largest manufacturer of electronic stun guns and body-worn cameras for police. Each recipient was ordered to turn records over to a grand jury convened at the Second Judicial District courthouse in Albuquerque on July 29. The documents offer a first glimpse into state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ criminal investigation of how the Albuquerque Police Department awarded a $2 million no-bid contract to Taser for more than 500 body-worn cameras and five years worth of online video storage.
According to a memo from her attorney regarding sentencing in a high profile case, former Secretary of State Dianna Duran does not deserve to spend any time in jail. The memo from attorney Erlinda Johnson says Duran is seeking treatment for gambling and that Duran is unlikely to commit any more crimes. The Albuquerque Journal was the first to report on the memo, as well as information from the Public Employees Retirement Association that Duran recently received her first pension check of $4,857.56. Judge Glenn Ellington will review the plea deal and ultimately decide on Duran’s punishment. He said that if there was jail time, he would allow Duran to withdraw her guilty pleas.
The latest in the saga that is the criminal case involving Secretary of State Dianna Duran is a motion from Duran’s lawyer asking that New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas be removed as the prosecutor. Duran’s attorney, Erlinda Johnson, filed the motion on Wednesday and asked the court to consider removing Balderas from the case on the grounds that his presence creates a conflict of interest. Johnson called the relationship between Balderas and Duran “contentious” and argued that Balderas has an ax to grind with Duran. “The acrimony between Ms. Duran and AG Balderas has continued for months, now giving ride to questions about this prosecutorial agencies bias against Ms. Duran,” the motion states. In a statement, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office discounted the claims by Duran’s attorney.
Secretary of State Dianna Duran wants the Attorney General to look into possible violations of campaign finance laws by an Albuquerque state represntative. KOB-TV first reported on the referral and New Mexico Political Report confirmed the referral with a spokesman for the Attorney General. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, responded by saying the Secretary of State went to the media before informing him of the referral. The referral is for a civil violation, not a criminal violation. At issue are campaign finance reports that did not show all of the donations to Maestas’ state representative campaign.
Top officials in the state Taxation and Revenue Department may have improperly given preferential treatment to a New Mexico taxpayer, according to State Auditor Tim Keller’s Office. Update: A letter from Keller to Gov. Susana Martinez names Tax and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla as part of the investigation. Our report is here. The post continues as originally written below. The allegations came from a fraud hotline call to Keller’s office in February, along with an audio recording of senior Taxation Department officials.