Did Sarah Maestas Barnes violate state law with her job fair this week?
If so, that makes twice in a week!
Sarah Maestas Barnes was already in the hot seat after news broke Tuesday night that she hid $91,000 in annual income from her Financial Disclosure Statement.
State Democratic leaders filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office last week citing Maestas Barnes’ failure to disclose the lucrative rent income her husband receives from his ownership of a building leased by a state agency.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- An up-and-coming republican state lawmaker who holds a key seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives did not report a $91,000 annual deal to rent space to a state agency, as required by New Mexico’s financial disclosure law for elected officials.
The state Democratic Party’s executive director filed a complaint with the secretary of state late last week in which he raised questions about whether Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque, knew that her husband had a multi-year lease with the state Human Services Department.
State Democratic Party Executive Director Joe Kabourek, who filed the complaint, said “This is a huge amount of money. This is not a couple hundred dollars. This is $91,000 — almost $100,000 a year — and that is something that it’s hard to see how that would be an oversight.”
But wait, there’s more!
Maestas Barnes hosted a job fair Wednesday at the CNM Workforce Training Center in Albuquerque. The event was advertised in many places, including the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions website.
Hold on a minute, is that a campaign banner?! If so then it appears to violate New Mexico laws governing the use of state property for campaigning purposes. (New Mexico law 10-16-3.1 C. “Violating the officer’s or employee’s duty not to use property belonging to a state agency or local government agency, or allow its use, for other than authorized purposes.”)
The link below the banner takes you from this state owned and operated website directly to Maestas Barnes’ campaign site. (Where you can even conveniently donate directly to her campaign if you see fit. Natch.)
Clearly anyone interested in this job fair is subjected to campaign material from Maestas Barnes.
And how about at the job fair itself? Well, it was held at a private location so campaigning rules weren’t necessarily broken but, as you can see, there was A LOT of Rep. Maestas Barnes campaigning going on during the fair.
So let’s get this straight: Rep. Maestas Barnes, a candidate for office with an election in two months, holds a job fair filled with images of her campaign signs and advertises that job fair on a state operated website. And this is all happening the day after a KRQE story breaks that she’s been profiting from an undisclosed state contract worth almost $100,000.
No matter how you slice it, Rep. Maestas Barnes is having a rough week in terms of complying with transparency, ethics rules, and the simple letter of the law.