May 25, 2017

Federal agents raid TRD offices

The state Taxation and Revenue Department may be facing more scandal after a troubled few years.

Federal agents reportedly executed a search warrant at the department’s offices.

KOB-TV was the first to report the search and quoted the department’s spokesman, Benjamin Cloutier, as saying the search is related to a classified employee and the department is cooperating with the investigation.

Cloutier said the employee had been with the department since 2006 and has been placed on administrative leave.

NM Political Report reached out to Cloutier Wednesday night and again Thursday morning for a reaction to the report but the spokesman did not respond.

Later, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on the federal raid.

In both cases, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque declined to comment, as is practice with ongoing Department of Justice investigations.

This isn’t the first time investigators have zeroed in on the department. The past secretary, Demesia Padilla, resigned after the state Attorney General executed a search warrant on her house in December.

The investigation came after Padilla allegedly managed taxes for a company, Harold’s Grading and Trucking, while she was cabinet secretary of the department in charge of taxation.

The warrant also alleged she embezzled money from the company.

NM Political Report covered Padilla’s alleged abuse of power with regard to Harold’s Grading and Trucking. When the company faced fines related to taxation, Padilla tried to help the company.

The state auditor found possible abuse of power and referred the investigation to AG Hector Balderas.

NM Political Report was the first to uncover the name of the client.

Padilla has not yet been charged with a crime.