Before New Mexico Political Report recently reported on a botched redaction from the state Taxation and Revenue Department, we reached out to its spokesman multiple times. It took Taxation Department spokesman Ben Cloutier more than four hours to respond. And when he did, he responded with a legal threat. “Mr. Peters,” he begins in an email sent Thursday late afternoon:
Although taxpayer return information was redacted by the department to provide confidentiality, you purposely manipulated the document (i.e., you were able to get around the redaction and enhance the imagery) in order to reveal taxpayer return information and thwart the purpose of the redaction. Furthermore, you have published taxpayer return information despite the clear intent that it remain confidential.
A leaked email from the state Taxation and Revenue Department last week was perhaps more transparent than the department intended. Update: The Taxation and Revenue Department responded. Here is the response. This story continues as originally written below. State Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office for allegedly providing or attempting special tax treatment to a former client for whom she served as a certified public accountant.
A state department attempted to thwart an outside investigation into its cabinet secretary’s alleged wrongdoings, State Auditor Tim Keller said in a press conference Wednesday morning. Keller released four documents related to his office’s preliminary investigation into whether Taxation and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla illegally intervened to give preferential treatment to her former client and retaliated against employees who brought concerns. The Taxation Department collects and distributes tax funds in New Mexico. Among the newly released documents are letters showing how the department attempted to prevent two of its employees from being interviewed by an outside firm hired by the state auditor to look into the matter. “They basically were trying to obstruct our investigation,” Keller said.
An investigation into the state Taxation and Revenue Department is implicating cabinet Secretary Demesia Padilla for alleged illegal behavior. State Auditor Tim Keller recently revealed that his office received a complaint in February that senior TRD officials gave a certain politically connected taxpayer preferential treatment. Part of the reason for the alleged preferential treatment centered around how a cabinet level TRD official previously worked for this taxpayer. A letter sent yesterday from State Auditor Tim Keller to Gov. Susana Martinez says that the allegations surround Padilla, the highest-level employee in the department. According to the letter, Padilla allegedly “improperly influenced, or attempted to influence, the TRD tax audit of a former client.”
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.