Fri October 1, 2010
Former elections director says his law office was burglarized.
By Jim Williams
Albuquerque, NM – A former elections official who blew the whistle on the Secretary of State's office earlier this year says there have been a series of break-ins at his Espanola law office, and that some key documents have been stolen. A.J. Salazar, who quit his position as Elections Director after sending a scathing resignation letter to Secretary of State Mary Herrera, says he "has his suspicions" about the break-ins.
Salazar left the Secretary's office in February after alleging, among other things, that Herrera had ordered employees to gather petition signatures for her campaign and had asked state contractors for money for election training. Herrera denied that she asked employees to gather signatures, but her office quickly changed its policy around asking contractors for money, an indication that that had taken place. Salazar says he went to Attorney General Gary King with documentation of his allegations, and that King didn't act on the matter, so he went to the FBI with the same information. It is those documents that Salazar says the thief made away with Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in two separate break-ins.
Salazar: I'm not gonna accuse somebody who is presumed innocent of committing an offense. But I find it extremely odd, given the date, thirty days before an election, and given the issues that you hear in the media, that these things were taken.
Deputy Secretary of State Francisco Trujillo, reached by phone late Friday, told KUNM he's not yet been contacted by the Espanola Police Department on the matter. But he noted that some of the documents that were taken had also been turned over to the FBI and AG's office.
Trujillo: I mean, the first thing that I thought of was why don't they just go to those other agencies and ask them for copies of what they already gave them, so that then they'd have their own copies back?
Salazar said, though, that also stolen were his personal notes on the case. He said the FBI would likely not return the other materials, and stressed that his frustration with the Attorney General's office would keep him from contacting that agency.
Espanola Police Public Information Officer Stacey Saiz confirmed the department is investigating the break-ins, and said it's possible the matter would need to be turned over to the FBI.