Dueling campaign complaints resolved in secretary of state race - Albuquerque Journal

Dueling campaign complaints resolved in secretary of state race

Secretary of State Brad Winter has disposed of dueling campaign finance complaints lodged against the Republican and Democratic candidates in the contentious race to succeed him.

Winter concluded last week that the Republican nominee for secretary of state, Nora Espinoza, did not violate state campaign finance laws, as a complaint from a Democratic Party official alleged.

Two weeks earlier, he had determined that a complaint filed against Democratic nominee Maggie Toulouse Oliver by a Republican lawmaker was filed too late for his office to act on.

Republican nominee Nora Espinoza, left, and Democrat nominee Maggie Toulouse Oliver
Republican nominee Nora Espinoza, left, and Democrat nominee Maggie Toulouse Oliver.

Espinoza, a state representative from Roswell, and Toulouse Oliver, the Bernalillo County clerk, are running in the Nov. 8 general election to fill out the final two years of former Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s term. Winter, a Republican, was appointed to the job after Duran resigned last year and pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds.

Robert Lara of Las Cruces, treasurer of the state Democratic Party, alleged there were multiple violations of the Campaign Reporting Act and administrative rules in reports Espinoza filed this year.

Lara said the GOP nominee failed to identify specific vendors and purchases on her spending reports, instead listing “Citi Cards” as the recipient.

Winter said the law doesn’t clearly require a vendor, so there was no violation. But he said that “in an effort to promote transparency,” Espinoza should provide more detail, and that the campaign “may amend their 2016 primary reports” to reflect specific vendors.

Allegations that she didn’t provide a purpose for campaign expenditures and used campaign funds for personal business were unsubstantiated, Winter also found.

And her use of “businessman” or “business owner” to describe the occupations of donors of $250 or more was not a violation because the law doesn’t define “occupation,” according to Winter. But, again, he suggested that in the interest of transparency, she should amend the reports to give more detail.

Winter’s letter also said his office has no policy requiring couples who donate to a campaign to be listed as a single contributor – as Lara alleged – and therefore there was no violation when Espinoza’s report listed couples as contributors.

And Winter said Espinoza wasn’t required to report legal work by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, as an in-kind contribution because Espinoza said Cook hadn’t done any legal work for her campaign.

It was Cook who filed a complaint against Toulouse Oliver with Winter’s office, alleging that she should have reported a contribution that one political action committee gave another PAC two years ago – when she was running against Duran – that was earmarked for TV advertising supporting her.

Toulouse Oliver said the complaint was baseless, because she didn’t receive the contribution and is legally barred from coordinating with such independent expenditure committees. And she said it was filed too late.

Winter said any complaint about the 2014 general election had to be filed by Feb. 2, 2015. Cook’s complaint was received on June 22 of this year.

“I conclude that the complaint is untimely and our office is unable to proceed with an investigation,” Winter wrote on Aug. 4.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Recent News » Dueling campaign complaints resolved in secretary of state race


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Council-approved budget would up spending by 20%
ABQnews Seeker
Plan includes pay increase for city ... Plan includes pay increase for city workers, rental support
2
As wildfires rage, state says unemployment assistance is available
ABQnews Seeker
Assistance is available for weeks of ... Assistance is available for weeks of unemployment beginning April 10 through Nov. 5
3
Defendant says he shot JB White 'to stop him'
ABQnews Seeker
Montoya takes stand, says SF basketball ... Montoya takes stand, says SF basketball star chased him, was about to 'throw a power punch'
4
Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak blaze surpasses 2012's Whitewater-Baldy
ABQnews Seeker
Northern NM fire has burned at ... Northern NM fire has burned at least 262 homes
5
'Not intimidated,' Block pitches himself as a fighter for ...
2022 election
GOP hopeful brings combative edge to ... GOP hopeful brings combative edge to governor's race
6
Three woman exhibit incorporates the images, techniques and ideas ...
Arts
Art show at Gallery Hózhó ends ... Art show at Gallery Hózhó ends May 18.
7
UNM to part ways with softball coach Congleton
College
Former Highland High, Lobos standout went ... Former Highland High, Lobos standout went 73-158 in five seasons
8
Grandma gets honorary degree for aiding New Mexico community
ABQnews Seeker
She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández She runs Socorro's Restaurant in Hernández
9
States struggle to replace fossil fuel tax revenue
ABQnews Seeker
Budgets flush with petroleum cash put ... Budgets flush with petroleum cash put spotlight on how difficult it is to turn rhetoric on tackling climate change into reality