Sunday, June 3, 2012

Coss Files Ethics Complaint Against Reform NM Now; Trujillo Distances Himself from PAC

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, running as a Democrat for a House seat in District 46, is asking the Secretary of State's Office to investigate a political action committee associated with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's political operation.

Reform New Mexico Now -- which is funded primarily by two oil companies who have been some of Martinez's major contributors, and which uses the same address as Martinez's political director Jay McCleskey -- last week sent mailers in support of Coss' Democratic primary opponent Carl Trujillo.

In his letter to Duran, dated today, Coss points out that in a campaign finance report filed last week, the oil company contributions to the PAC were dated April 24. However, the PAC itself did not register with the secretary of state until May 29. According to the state election code, “A political committee shall register with the secretary of state within ten days of receiving, contributing or expending in excess of five hundred dollars.”

On Saturday the PAC filed an amended report that changed the dates of the two major contributions to May 21 and 24.

"I believe that serious violations of the Campaign Reporting Act have occurred and request an immediate, formal investigation. I look forward to your timely response to this request," Coss wrote.

I just sent an email to McCleskey asking for comment. I'll update this post when he responds.

Meanwhile, Trujillo issued a news release Sunday in which he reiterated that he has nothing to do with the recent mailings sent by Reform New Mexico Now and the New Mexico Business Coalition.

" ... sometimes we get support from organizations who may have agendas that are likely to be at odds with our interests. And sometimes they may do things on their own, without our knowledge or our consent -- whether it's putting up a sign, sending out emails, making a financial contribution or something bigger.

"This week, we had a few interesting examples. Organizations that have independently done things without any involvement from us. For example, two organizations sent out mailers that were negative to our opponent. We had nothing to do with them, but there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

"Unfortunately, the opposition has been using slimy tactics to insinuate that we are somehow connected to these organizations and that’s proof that we have some kind of secret evil agenda."

Trujillo said while he's on record as being willing to work with those of opposing political views, "This does not mean that I don’t have strong views on vital issues which are often in opposition to these big special interests."

UPDATE: 8:38 p.m. I got an e-mail from a Reform New Mexico Now spokesman Dominic Aragon. Here's what he said:
Reform New Mexico Now is in complete compliance with the law and, unlike other groups involved in these elections, we disclose all of our contributions and expenditures. 
 There was a typo in the initial report filed with the Secretary of State by listing all contributions as 4/24/12. We quickly notified the Secretary of State when the report appeared with that erroneous information. We were instructed on how to file an amended report and did so. The Secretary of State's office has informed us that we are in total compliance with the law. 
This frivolous complaint by David Coss is a desperate attempt to distract attention away from the main issue in this race, which is whether Mr. Coss should be able to simultaneously serve as mayor and as state representative.

UPDATE:  6-4-12 12:38 am Jack Sullivan, who is challenging incumbent state Sen. Phil Griego in the District 39 Democratic primary, also has requested the SOS investigate Reform New Mexico Now. Apparently the PAC has sent mailers in that race as well. I haven't seen any of those yet.