April 5, 2016

Jeff pays fine, will be on primary ballot

Andy Lyman

Sandra Jeff

Former state Rep. Sandra Jeff will make it on the ballot for state Senate this upcoming primary election in June after all.

Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff

Andy Lyman

Former State Rep. Sandra Jeff

Jeff came to an agreement with the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday—nearly three weeks after that office disqualified her from the ballot for not paying a fine for filing a late campaign finance report from an earlier campaign.

Jeff, a Democrat, is challenging Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, for the party nomination this year.

Her attorney Zach Cook told NM Political Report that she agreed to pay “a nominal amount” of roughly $100 to the Secretary of State’s Office to get on the ballot.

Part of the deal involves Jeff not having to concede that the fine was legitimate.

“Sandra believes the Secretary of State didn’t have the right to charge her that fine,” Cook, a Republican state representative and former colleague of Jeff, said.

Jeff legally contested her ballot disqualification, which was scheduled for a hearing in Santa Fe district court Tuesday. Instead, she came to the agreement with the Secretary of State’s Office, which district Judge Sarah Singleton signed Monday.

Jeff may be in for more legal matters before election day in June. On Monday, Shendo’s campaign filed a motion to intervene in Jeff’s lawsuit to get on the ballot alleging that Jeff doesn’t live in the Senate district she’s running for, which she disputes.

Karen Mendenhall*, Shendo’s attorney, says Shendo is now considering his legal options on whether to move forward with the challenge.

Cook, who said his relationship with Jeff in the state Legislature was good but not “extraordinary,” said he is continuing to represent her legally.

“We’ll just wait and see what happens with that,” Cook said of Shendo’s potential legal challenge.

This isn’t Jeff’s first ballot dispute.

In 2014, Jeff failed to make the Democratic primary ballot after a court found that she did not have enough valid signatures. Jeff ran in the general election as a write-in candidate but lost to Wonda Johnson.

Jeff didn’t endear herself to Democratic leadership while a member of the House.

She voted along with Republicans on some key issues including the state budget one year. With a narrowly divided House in 2013 and 2014, her vote often proved key to allowing Republicans to pass legislation or block Democratic legislation.

*Karen Mendenhall has given legal advice to NM Political Report in the past.