New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced a plan today for lobbyists to take sexual harassment training before each session of the New Mexico Legislature. “Sexual harassment in any form is never acceptable,” Toulouse Oliver said in emailed statement to reporters. “This is just a first step, but it is my hope that by giving lobbyists the opportunity to enroll in sexual harassment training programs, we will be able to prevent some instances of misconduct from happening in the first place.”
The current lobbyist registration forms will be amended to include a checkbox for lobbyists to confirm they have taken the training. Those forms will be searchable and online. The training would be voluntary, but Toulouse Oliver hopes it could someday be mandatory.
After her first week in office, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is ready to get to work revamping the state election code. She said while there are a number of things she wants to focus on, her office might have to get creative financially. “We have a lot to do and we’re not fully funded to do it,” Toulouse Oliver told NM Political Report. Since former secretary Dianna Duran left office last year, there hasn’t been a lot of movement in terms of rule changes or reforms from the secretary’s office. Toulouse Oliver has long said she would work towards improving the state’s campaign finance rules if she were elected.
Monday marked the first full day in the office not just for New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, but also for two new staffers. Toulouse Oliver was sworn in as Secretary of State late last week, about a month ahead of when she was originally scheduled to take office. Toulouse Oliver’s office announced in a press release that John Blair is the new Deputy Secretary of State and Theresa Chavez-Romero is Toulouse Oliver’s executive assistant. Blair most recently worked for the U.S Department of Interior as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Born and raised in Santa Fe, Blair also ran unsuccessfully in the primary election for the New Mexico state Senate in 2008.
A campaign finance complaint filed against New Mexico Secretary of State hopeful Nora Espinoza alleges a handful of violations including improperly reporting expenditures and contributions. Democratic Party of New Mexico treasurer Robert Lara filed the complaint last week but the complaint was only made public on Monday. The complaint lists multiple instances of Espinoza, who is finishing out her term as a Republican state representative, paying off credit card bills with her campaign fund as well as paying organizations without listing what was paid for. Lara also wrote in the complaint that Espinoza also failed to report an in kind contribution by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, for his services. The instances of alleged violations date back to before Espinoza announced her intention to run for Secretary of State.
Secretary of State Candidate Nora Espinoza recently appeared in two promotional videos for a group closely associated with the Church of Scientology that is critical of prescription drug companies. Months later, Espinoza received a large campaign contribution from a pharmaceutical company that clashed with the controversial religious group in the past. This February, the Church of Scientology released a video featuring Espinoza praising the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR)—an organization founded by the Church of Scientology—for helping her pass legislation in 2015 prohibiting schools and school officials from coercing students into taking medication. In the video, Espinoza discussed how CCHR helped her pass HB 53, which Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law. “We drafted it, we worked together with it, to make sure that it was an excellent legislation,” Espinoza said.
With several months left until the general election, the two candidates running for Secretary of State seem to have two different strategies for how to spend—or not spend—campaign money. In a press release Monday, Republican candidate Nora Espinoza’s campaign boasted that the campaign had more cash on hand than Democratic opponent Maggie Toulouse Oliver. “Toulouse Oliver actually outraised Espinoza during the most recent reporting period, but spent almost all of what she raised,” the release read. Toulouse Oliver, the current Bernalillo County Clerk, last reported having $125,000 on hand while Espinoza, an outgoing state representative from Roswell, last reported almost $160,000. Espinoza’s campaign reported paying almost $3,000 to former Secretary of State employee Bobbi Shearer for consulting work in May, but has spent little since then.
State Rep. Nora Espinoza has less than a week to submit signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in order to put her name on the ballot for the position of Secretary of State. In order to qualify as a candidate, the Roswell Republican must collect 2,000 signatures from registered Republicans in New Mexico and submit them by Feb. 1. Espinoza told Christian media website FGGAM.org earlier this week that she was not announcing her candidacy because she was still gathering signatures. She directed listeners who wanted to help gather signatures to her page on the the New Mexico Legislative website.
New Mexico Secretary of State Brad Winter met with some members of the state legislature to discuss some of his goals for the office on Friday morning. It was Winter’s first meeting with legislators during the legislative session as Secretary of State. Winter took over after Dianna Duran, the previous Secretary of State, resigned ahead of pleading guilty to six charges, including two felonies, related to misusing her campaign funds. Winter told the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs committee that one of his priorities is improving education on and compliance with campaign finance laws. He said his office created a department devoted to educating candidates on how to properly comply with campaign finance laws.
A former New Mexico Secretary of State announced on Wednesday that she is seeking petition signatures to run for the position again. On her personal Facebook page, Rebecca Vigil wrote that she was seeking 5,000 signatures by Feb. 2 to secure a spot in the Democratic pre-primaries. She said she has not officially announced her candidacy and was clear that she had a long way to go. “I have several bridges to cross before I can make the announcement that I will be in the race for Secretary of State,” Vigil wrote.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver officially announced her candidacy for New Mexico Secretary of State on Thursday in Albuquerque. NM Political Report first reported last month that a source confirmed Toulouse planned to run for the position. Toulouse said she is making transparency and accountability of elected officials a priority of her campaign. “My top priority will be to enact thoughtful and innovative reforms to New Mexico’s campaign finance system and hold elected officials, government employees, candidates, lobbyists and all political groups to the highest levels of ethical standards and accountability,” Toulouse said in a statement. Specifically, she said she will tackle campaign finance and reporting if she is elected.