By Tracy Dingmann
On Thursday we heard that Secretary of State Dianna Duran found Gov. Susana Martinez did not violate the state Campaign Reporting Act by using money raised for her 2010 gubernatorial campaign to pay for a radio ad that aired in Albuquerque last month.
The radio ad had exhorted New Mexicans to call their legislators and ask them to vote for a bill that would stop the state of New Mexico from issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. It was a favored issue of Martinez’s during the campaign and since taken office as governor on Jan. 1. There has been much speculation about the motives behind her push to get the law passed.
Duran’s ruling was in response to a complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s office by the immigrants rights group Somos un Pueblo Unido. In the ruling, Duran said Martinez’ 2010 campaign committee is now her 2014 reelection campaign committee, and the money used for lobbying ads are legitimate 2014 campaign expenditures. Duran said she would not refer the matter to Attorney General Gary King or the district attorney.
When Duran announced her decision, many were tempted to think it was the end of the matter.
The non-partisan good-government group Common Cause New Mexico filed a complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General on the same day that Somos filed its complaint with the Secretary of State.
That complaint is still pending, Common Cause New Mexico executive director Steve Allen said Friday.
“Common Cause New Mexico has asked the Attorney General to look into this,” Allen said. “There’s been no word yet on his investigation.”
The Attorney General and the Secretary of State have dual responsibility for enforcing the state Campaign Reporting Act, said Allen.
Interestingly, on Friday, a spokesman for Attorney General Gary King told KRQE-TV that Duran did not consult with the attorney general before issuing her decision.
And AG spokesman Phil Sisneros told the station that the attorney general’s office will continue reviewing whether the campaign money can be spent on the ads.
In other words – it’s not over, folks.