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Block Inquiry Begun by Auditor

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The State Auditor’s Office is looking into possible misuse of a state-issued gasoline card by Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block Jr.

KOB-TV reports that a records review found more than 50 questionable charges on Block’s gas card, including numerous purchases on the same day at stations in the Santa Fe and Española areas.

Block’s gas account had billings of about $4,000 from January to May — twice as much as other commissioners.

Block said that another person may have made some of the charges and that he has reimbursed the state for $200 in billings.

State Auditor Hector Balderas said he’s “very concerned that taxpayer resources may have been abused.”

The Attorney General’s Office confirmed Friday that it had Block’s car searched, but a spokesman declined to give details of the investigation.

The allegations sparked Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Javier Gonzales to call for Block, a Democrat, to resign.

“The continued distraction created by your conduct is a black eye to all Democratic officeholders and a disservice to your constituents,” Gonzales said in a letter to Block.

On Tuesday, criminal charges filed by the Attorney General’s Office regarding misspent campaign funding from the 2008 election were reinstated by the state Court of Appeals. A state District Court judge had previously dismissed the charges.

Block already paid $21,000 in penalties after the Secretary of State’s Office found he had lied in campaign finance reports and misspent funds from his publicly financed campaign.

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