Thu February 24, 2011
Gov. Martinez: "I don't have anything to worry about" on campaign calls expenditures investigation
By Jim Williams
Santa Fe, NM – Governor Susana Martinez says she isn't concerned about a call for an investigation of her expenditure of campaign dollars. Martinez spent left-over campaign money on political ads that aired on radio earlier this week.
The ads were designed to pressure lawmakers to end the practice of giving drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants in the state. Common Cause New Mexico says the expenditure may violate the state's Campaign Reporting Act, and wants the attorney general to investigate. Common Cause Director Steven Allen says the act limits campaign dollars to running for election.
"And we don't want it to go beyond that," he said, "because all kinds of various conflicts could come up in that regard. So once the campaign's over, that money can be used in a couple of different ways. But one of them is not lobbying for legislation. That's our reading of the act."
But Martinez has a different reading of the act. During a windy press conference, literally, at the capitol, she said she spent the money because she wanted to back up her campaign promises on the drivers license issue.
"I don't have anything to worry about in the sense of they were campaign funds", Martinez said. "It was not anything, tax dollars were not spent in any way for any of that. And in fact the Secretary of State has said it was completely appropriate."
Allen says he's "puzzled" by Secretary of State Dianna Duran's conclusion that the Campaign Reporting Act has definitions in it that allow campaign money to be spent on political ads. Immigrant rights advocacy group Somos un Pueblo Unido has also filed a complaint over the issue with Duran and Attorney General Gary King.