Q&A: Secretary of State candidate Gavin Clarkson

  • NAME: Dr. Gavin Clarkson
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Business and Law Professor, on leave from NMSU
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Proven job creator. Licensed investment Banker with FINRA Series 7, 24, and 66 securities licenses. Brought $3/4 billion to rural and tribal areas in New Mexico. Law degree and three business degrees. Taught corporate law and computer science for decades, including secured transactions and corporate formation matters that became the responsibility of the Secretary of State in 2013. Wrote software for state ethics law compliance. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy and Economic Development; managed a multi-billion dollar energy portfolio and supervised the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and the Office of Self-Governance. National security clearance. Cybersecurity experience. Enrolled tribal member. Navy veteran.
  • EDUCATION: BA & MBA, Rice University; Doctorate in Technology and Operations Management, Harvard Business School; J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.gavinclarkson.com

Would you support or oppose a law that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls?

I support a photo ID requirement because when non-citizens vote, the votes of citizens are diminished. Allowing those who have cheated the system to vote insults both our veterans who fought to protect our democratic institutions and all the immigrants who followed the rules to come here legally.

Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that political parties, as private organizations, have a constitutional right to manage their own affairs without undue state interference. There are other mechanisms that have the potential to increase voter choice, particularly for independents, but that is a matter for the legislature to consider.

Do you believe New Mexico’s campaign finance reporting system should be improved? If so, what changes would you propose?

Albuquerque’s mayoral race is a perfect example of the failure of our campaign finance system. A publicly funded candidate should not be allowed to leverage private donations. “Dark Money” from George Soros has reportedly flowed to my opponent repeatedly, yet the existing system doesn’t force those funds to be reported.

With voter registration currently closing 28 days before an election, would you support or oppose a law allowing potential voters to register closer to Election Day? What about on Election Day?

As long as voter registration is restricted to those who are 1) alive, 2) human, 3) citizens, 4) and in possession of a valid government-issued ID (including Tribal IDs), I would support allowing voter registration closer to Election Day. Zombies, Aliens, and Canines, however, should remain ineligible and unregistered.

With voters set to decide whether to create a new state ethics commission, would you support a requirement that complaints and hearings be open to the public?

Designing rules of procedure for tribunals such as the proposed ethics commission is a complex task. I support transparency, but I also support presumptions of innocence. There may be times when closed hearings are appropriate, but those instances should be the exception rather than the rule.

Given the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Husted, what steps would you take to purge the voter rolls of ineligible or deceased voters?

As a former Computer Science and Information Systems professor, the exercise of removing Zombies, Aliens, and Canines from the rolls is straightforward, but my opponent has yet to implement effective measures. I will make the integrity of the voter rolls a priority while ensuring that no eligible voter is disenfranchised.

Questions that should be asked given that the Secretary of State also manages the Corporations Bureau.

What business experience do you have in the private sector?

For more than a decade, I’ve taught secured transactions and corporate formation (a new Secretary of State responsibility). I’ve started and sold several successful technology companies. As a licensed investment banker, I brought $3/4 billion into rural and tribal areas in New Mexico. I also remodel residential real estate.

Given that New Mexico is one of the five least business-friendly states according to Forbes, what is the role of the Secretary of State in attracting companies?

The Secretary of State manages small business formation, the engine of job creation. Since I don’t hate capitalism, I want to attract more job-creating companies to New Mexico, including energy companies. We need to make the secured transaction process easier, which is vital for small business’ access to capital.

What is the role of the Secretary of State in terms of job creation?

The Corporations Bureau at the Secretary of State needs to make New Mexico more business-friendly. If we can make it easier rather than harder to do business, more companies will relocate here, and more entrepreneurs will start businesses here. Small business is the engine of job creation.

Personal background

Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

I filed Chapter 7 in 2012 after massive commercial real estate losses due to the great recession of 2008 and the anemic Obama non-recovery. This information was all fully disclosed on my federal background check and did not prevent me from obtaining a national security clearance.

Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

No.

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