The Secretary of State’s office said this week it would look closer at a former lawmaker’s decision to contribute money from his campaign fund to a family member running for office last year. Former Rep. Henry “Kiki” Saavedra, D-Albuquerque, donated $2,400 in December 2013 to his son Randy’s unsuccessful House primary race and another $2,600 donation on June 6, 2014, after the primary, campaign finance documents show. The contribution limits in 2014 were $2,400 for the primary and $2,400 for the general election. Secretary of State spokesman Ken Ortiz said the office would review the situation involving Saavedra, which appears to exceed state limits. “In the case with Rep. Saavedra, we will need to review the donation of $2,600 to determine if it exceeds the allowable limits,” Ortiz wrote in an email.
Attorney General Hector Balderas will stop providing legal counsel to Secretary of State Dianna Duran as she battles 64 criminal charges his office filed against her in court. Balderas is also returning 31 cases of potential campaign finance violations of state legislators and political action committees back to Duran’s office. Duran referred the 31 complaints to Balderas less than a week after he filed criminal charges against her in court. Balderas notified Duran’s office of the change Tuesday afternoon. “I am making this decision after careful consideration and even though I am confident that the [Office of the Attorney General] could otherwise handle the referrals competently and appropriately,” Balderas writes.
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.
It’s been a strange few weeks when it’s news that the Secretary of State was working in the office. Multiple media outlets reported the embattled Secretary of State Dianna Duran was in the office this week—and last—in preparation for the 2016 elections. Duran has been largely out of the public eye and out of the office since she was charged with 64 counts related to allegedly funneling campaign funds to personal accounts. The Attorney general outlined how Duran spent thousands of dollars, including the alleged converted campaign money, at casinos in the state. It had many asking where Duran was holed up.
State lawmakers are coming under more scrutiny since New Mexico Secretary of State’s office recently started investigating a handful of state legislators for possible campaign finance violations. State Reps. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, Roger Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo and Andy Nuñez, R-Hatch, are all under fire for discrepancies in their campaign finance reports. But perceived problems with campaign spending aren’t limited to them. New Mexico Political Report also found questionable campaign spending by state Reps.
A local watchdog journalist and government transparency advocate was able to dig up names of potential medical marijuana producers primarily through his own searches instead of official records requests. Peter St. Cyr, an independent journalist, published some names of people that may have applied to become the next round of medical marijuana growers and sellers in New Mexico in the Santa Fe Reporter. He and other transparency advocates have argued these should be public, while Department of Health regulations keep them secret. St.