More than a year before announcing his candidacy in a high-profile race for a state senate seat, Diego Espinoza filed a defamation lawsuit against a 2014 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. The lawsuit alleged that Espinoza experienced “public and personal humiliation,” among other damages, after candidate David Clements accused him of hacking his campaign email account. Now, nine months after a judge dismissed the case with prejudice, Clements can still publicly make the allegation against Espinoza. “If there’s any benefit or silver lining to deal with Espinoza’s frivolous lawsuit, it’s that to the day I die I can tell anyone who asks me, ‘Yeah, he hacked me,’” Clements, who ran for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014 on a libertarian-minded platform, said. Espinoza was campaign manager for Clements’ Republican primary opponent Allen Weh.
While former state Rep. Sandra Jeff avoided ballot disqualification after a recent scuffle with the Secretary of State, several questions remain about possible discrepancies in previous campaign reports. The biggest question is the sudden disappearance of more than $27,000 in debt from her failed 2014 campaign for reelection to the state House of Representatives. In July 2014, Jeff reported a loan contribution of $26,720.82 from Gallagher & Kennedy, a law firm with offices in Santa Fe and Phoenix. A note next to the contribution reads, “Campaign Debt for legal fees incurred.”
Jeff continued to report this debt, plus an extra $1,200 that she loaned to herself, for the next six campaign reporting periods, marking a period of nearly two years. But on March 15 of this year, Jeff amended seven old campaign reports from the 2014 election cycle.
Republicans raised more than twice what Democrats took in when it comes to 2015 campaign contributions from lobbyists and their employers. Nearly half the total of $1.1 million in campaign contributions from lobbyists and their employers to New Mexico politicians and political action committees in 2015 came after Oct. 5, 2015. That’s the last date candidates and PACs had to report contributions in 2015. So the lobbyist and employer reporting paints a picture of donations leading up to the 30-day 2016 legislative session that started Tuesday.
Conrad James, an Albuquerque Republican in his second term in the state House of Representatives, announced Wednesday on Facebook that he would not seek reelection next year. “Friends – I want to thank each and every one of you for the support you have provided me during my two terms as the New Mexico State Representative for District 24, and I am deeply honored to have served in this role,” James wrote. “But it is time for me to move on, so I will not be running for re-election next year.”
James did not elaborate on what “moving on” may entail. NM Political Report left a voicemail with James Wednesday morning and will update this post if he responds. James has been mentioned as a possible candidate for higher office.