Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – At least a handful of Democratic and Republican candidates for the Legislature didn’t disclose tax liens in response to Journal questionnaires.
Liens are typically filed to secure the payment of unpaid taxes. In formal notices, the state Taxation and Revenue Department usually warns the person that their property may be taken to satisfy the debt.
Each election cycle, the Journal asks candidates to disclose tax liens, bankruptcies and arrests.
But at least three candidates this year failed to disclose past liens, saying they were either unaware of the lien or made a mistake.
⋄ Socorro Democrat Tara Jaramillo, who faced tax liens in 2007 and 2013, according to public records. The 2007 lien was for $679 and the 2013 one – filed jointly against her and her ex-husband – was for $2,265.
Jaramillo said she wasn’t aware of either lien until contacted by the Journal.
The first lien appears to be connected to her personal income tax filings, she said, but her returns were prepared by a certified public account who is now dead, so she doesn’t have details on how it occurred.
Her current accountant said the lien “could have represented adjustments made by the Tax Department to the returns after they were filed,” Jaramillo said.
The second lien lists her ex-husband’s business address, she said, and she doesn’t have any knowledge of his business tax filings.
Both liens were released within a year.
Also running in District 38 is Republican Sandra Kay Hammack, who didn’t return a Journal questionnaire. But she acknowledged to a reporter that she had a business-related bankruptcy in the 1990s.
⋄ Albuquerque Republican Gregory Cunningham, who faced a $2,000 tax lien in 2012, according to records filed with the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office. It was released later that year.
Cunningham had answered “no” in the Journal questionnaire ahead of the primary election. He said this week that it was a miscommunication with a campaign consultant.
He disclosed the lien in a subsequent Journal questionnaire, submitted for the general election, before the Journal asked about the 2012 lien.
The lien, he said, stemmed from when he first started a business and didn’t fully understand his tax obligations.
“When I figured out what had happened,” he said, “I moved to resolve it immediately and you can see that the lien was paid in full and released very shortly after it was filed.”
Cunningham is running in House District 29 against Democratic Rep. Joy Garratt.
⋄ Albuquerque Republican Nicole Chavez, who was listed along with her ex-husband on a $333 tax lien in 2014.
Chavez said she wasn’t aware of the lien until contacted by the Journal.
After speaking to her ex-husband, she said she learned the lien was the result of his having cashed out an investment during their divorce. It was later paid off.
“I definitely would have disclosed a $300 debt had I known it existed,” she said.
She is running in House District 28 against Democrat Pamelya Herndon, who was appointed to the seat last year.