Two campaign ethics bills moved forward from a Senate panel on Monday as the end of the legislative session neared. The Senate Rules Committee passed both bills, but they received very different receptions. Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, had a bill that would give the Secretary of State’s office access to campaign banking records to better accomplish audits. “It allows the Secretary of State to go into my account, your accounts, and check what the checks were written for and how the deposits were without getting a court order,” Cotter said. The proposal passed with no recommendation after Senators expressed concerns that it would provide access to campaign banking records by political appointees in the Secretary of State’s office.
The city of Santa Fe has confirmed that former Gov. Bill Richardson was cited for failure to report an accident, though said there were few details. City of Santa Fe spokesman Matt Ross said that it was his understanding that the accident took place this morning, but did not have the exact time. Related Story: More details from the police report. KOB-TV was the first to report on the accident by the former governor. The officer has not filed a police report yet and there will be more details when that happens.
After a bad few days for Susana Martinez, she fled from reporters following an event to welcome home National Guard troops from overseas. A reporter for KOB-TV, Blair Miller, posted a clip on Twitter of Martinez refusing to answer questions and a member of her entourage slamming a door in the cameraman’s faces as someone asks, “Governor, do you mind if we chat with you?” Gov. Martinez, security REALLY didn’t want to comment again on notorious hotel party today. https://t.co/enoUp7v98R pic.twitter.com/L0LWLlKMGd — Blair Miller (@blairmiller) December 23, 2015
Martinez doesn’t even put on her jacket completely while she goes outside. The event featured Martinez in Santa Fe speaking to 38 National Guard soldiers who returned from a deployment in Kuwait and Iraq.
Gov. Susana Martinez has both apologized and partly defended her actions following a police response to a hotel room she was in last weekend which made headlines throughout the state and country. Though her office didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment from NM Political Report on Friday, her spokesman put out a statement to selected media outlets and Martinez appeared in person on KOB-TV Friday evening. “I apologize to the people of New Mexico for having done that,” Martinez told KOB. “I should have never talked to central dispatch the way I did, and I own it.”
Earlier that day, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office released audio of a 911 call Martinez made—one herself and one through the Eldorado Hotel’s front desk—where she asked what the police complaint was about and repeatedly demanded the identity of the person who complained. Three media outlets—NM Political Report, Santa Fe New Mexican and KRQE-TV—obtained the audio from the Sheriff’s office Friday morning.
A report by a local TV station says that Gov. Susana Martinez has made a decision on the next Secretary of State—and he hails from Albuquerque. KOB-TV reported on Monday night that Martinez will name Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter as the new Secretary of State. The station cited “sources close to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.” Update: Martinez officially appointed Winter as Secretary of State on Tuesday morning. The story continues as originally written below.
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.
It turns out that $4,000 that a state Representative failed to report wasn’t the full amount. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, actually failed to report $11,170 in campaign contributions. The added on to the original report by KOB-TV last week on the campaign finance violations. The Journal said that Maestas found the additional unreported donations after the report by the TV station. From Friday’s Journal report: In addition to adding 26 contributions to his campaign finance reports, Maestas amended reports to provide further detail for three separate $1,000 campaign expenditures.
It’s been two weeks since New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced charges against New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran for moving campaign funds to personal accounts. It has also been that long since Duran was in her office. Now many New Mexicans are asking where she’s been. As New Mexico Political Report previously reported, officials from Duran’s office confirmed she has not been in her office since she was charged. They have said that despite this, it is still business as usual in the office.