Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SOS Duran Launches Investigation of Gov. Martinez's Radio Ads

Last week Secretary of State Dianna Duran said she believed that Gov. Susana Martinez did not violate any election law by using leftover campaign funds to buy radio ads.

But now it appears Duran's office is conducting some type of investigation of the matter.

The ads were aimed at whipping up public support for a bill to repeal the law allowing illegal immigrants to be issued driver's licenses.

The immigrants rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido complained to Duran and Attorney General Gary King that the state Campaign Reporting Act restricts the spending of campaign funds after an election to “payment of campaign debts, donations to charities or the state’s general fund, contributions to other candidates or political parties and refunds to the contributors.”

Duran's initial response was that the ads were an allowable expense under the law.

Then Common Cause New Mexico joined the fray and asked the AG to investigate.

On Feb. 25 Duran's ethics investigator Christiana Sanchez sent a letter to Martinez's unnamed campaign manager asking for a written response within 20 days.

When I asked for a response last week, Martinez campaign spokesman Danny Diaz said, “It’s ironic that a radical special-interest group that believes illegal immigrants have a right to New Mexico driver’s licenses does not believe the Governor has a right to free speech. We disagree.”

In an email about Duran's letter Somos executive director Marcela Diaz said, "New Mexicans deserve to know how the Governor justifies using campaign funds to pay for inflammatory and misleading ads regarding such a complex public policy issue.”

Here's the letter from the SOS:

Duran Letter to Martinez Campaign