Secretary of State's office says it's changing its approach to asking for money

Mar 23, 2010

Santa Fe, NM – Deputy Secretary of State Don Francisco Trujillo tells KUNM his office is changing its approach to soliciting donations as a result of concerns from the Attorney General's office.

As we first reported Tuesday, KUNM found, in a document request this week, e-mails that seem to back up contentions by a now-former Elections Director that Herrera has been engaging in political activity in her office.

Former Director A.J. Salazar, who quit his position a month ago, had alleged in his resignation letter that Herrera directed her employees to gather petition signatures for her re-election, and to solicit donations from current contractors to pay for an election seminar.

E-mails indicate an assistant attorney general admonished Herrera over concerns that "the office or some employees in the office may be soliciting donations from contractors". Salazar responded to Herrera in another e-mail that he wasn't "judging anyone", but that he was trying to keep her out of trouble. That, apparently, after Herrera had expressed frustration that he'd gone forward with the information.

Now, Deputy Secretary Francisco Trujillo tells KUNM the assistant attorney general's concerns have led to a change in the agency's philosophy about approaching contractors for money. "Because of that one e-mail," he says, "and because we wanted to ensure that there wasn't anything that, you know, wasn't on the up and up, we didn't request anything for 2010."

The problem, he stresses, was that the Secretary of State had targeted companies with current contracts for donations, rather than a broader appeal. Trujillo didn't address the allegations that Herrera directed employees to gather petition signatures for her.

The documents obtained by KUNM were heavily redacted, so more requests have been put in. The attorney general's office is said to be investigating all of the allegations and concerns.