Saturday, January 10, 2009
Vigil-Giron Is Subject of Query
By Thomas J. Cole
Copyright © 2009 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Investigative Reporter
Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron, who is now working for the Richardson administration, has advised her bosses that she is under investigation by the Attorney General's Office.
The Attorney General's Office "has been actively looking into the spending of voter education funds" while Vigil-Giron was secretary of state, a spokesman for the attorney general said.
Vigil-Giron paid an advertising company nearly $6.3 million for a voter education campaign from 2004 to 2006, but a federal audit released last year said there was no accounting for how more than $3 million of the money was spent.
The former secretary of state said she plans to stay in her job at the Department of Workforce Solutions but refused to talk about the investigation, including whether she has been advised by prosecutors that she is a target of a grand jury probe.
"I'm not allowed to speak to anyone at this point," she said. "I cannot talk to you."
Workforce Solutions Secretary Betty Sparrow Doris said Vigil-Giron disclosed the investigation to the department early this week.
"She is still an employee working with us," Doris said.
She declined to say whether the former secretary of state had been asked to resign, citing the need for privacy in personnel matters. But she said, "We had conversations with her about the impact of her being with us."
Doris also declined to discuss what Vigil-Giron told the department about the investigation.
"Because it has nothing to do with her job at the department, I would ask you to speak to her directly," she said.
The voter education campaign run by Vigil-Gigon was funded by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and the commission in 2007 asked the Attorney General's Office for help in determining whether money was misused.
"Clearly, we are extremely interested in determining the answers, but doing so takes time," attorney general spokesman Phil Sisneros said. "In a perfect world, investigations would wrap within a one-hour time slot, just like on TV, but the real world is a tad more complicated."
Vigil-Giron served 12 years as secretary of state over a span of nearly two decades. She left the office at the end of 2006.
An active supporter of Gov. Bill Richardson, she was hired in October as a constituent liaison for the Department of Workforce Solutions' Labor Relations Division. Her starting salary was slightly more than $60,000 a year.
Previously, the administration had chosen Vigil-Giron to be executive director of the New Mexico Film Museum, but she turned down the position after a political uproar over her lack of qualifications.
Vigil-Giron has twice run unsuccessfully for Congress. She has said she plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2010.