New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas joined California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra in taking the Trump administration to court to challenge rollbacks in methane emissions standards. The legal action charges that the move from Trump’s Department of the Interior violates a host of existing regulations and protocols designed to update industry standards that otherwise have operated under decade-old rules. Oil and gas companies vent or flare a significant amount of methane gas during their operations that, besides having negative effects on the environment and New Mexican’s health, wastes a significant amount of a product that otherwise could be utilized to fuel New Mexico homes and other services. The move comes as new polling data in New Mexico shows overwhelming support from a broad swath of the general public for common sense measures designed to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. A new poll conducted by The Majority Institute released this week shows that New Mexicans across the state support strengthening the state’s rules on limiting methane pollution that is leaked, vented or flared from oil and gas facilities.
One of Governor Martinez’s closest and most influential cabinet secretaries resigned suddenly this morning after the Attorney General’s office filed a search warrant seeking personal and business tax records from the Martinez administration. Former employees of a Padilla client claim those records show Padilla embezzled from their company before joining the State’s Tax and Revenue Department, then used her position as Secretary to shut down an audit that may have uncovered it. The big picture
Padilla, an accountant, appears to have embezzled $25,000 from a former client, transferring money from their account to her credit cards while acting as Tax & Rev Secretary
Padilla used her position as Cabinet Secretary to attempt to stop an audit that could have uncovered her activity
Agents discovered $128,000 in unreported, taxable income for Padilla from multiple sources. She was the State’s top tax enforcement officer at the time
Padilla admitting to burning records
Embezzling from clients as Tax & Rev Sec., attempts to stop audit to uncover it
Secretary Demesia Padilla, an accountant by trade, has been one of Governor Martinez’sclosest political appointees. As Secretary of Tax and Revenue, she advanced many of the governor’s priority corporate tax cuts and oversees the Motor Vehicle Department and the governor’s anti-immigrant license efforts since 2011.
Say it ain’t so! New Mexico’s Attorney General is reviewing irregularities in the campaign accounts of State Rep. Andy Nuñez after ProgressNow New Mexico filed a complaint outlining more than 40 different instances where Nuñez reported using his campaign cash to provide himself cash payments, travel to official events reimbursable by taxpayers (double-dipping) and purchases of power tools, truck parts and repairs to his personal office. Looking at Nuñez’ campaign finance reports for the last few years, we found some pretty glaring violations of state campaign laws. The New Mexico Constitution prohibits legislators from receiving any additional compensation beyond that provided by per diem authorized to attend official meetings. **UPDATE, Oct 6, 2016, 4:31 pm** After news of our August complaint was reported earlier today by the Las Cruces Sun-News, ProgressNow was contacted by by a citizen watchdog from the community of Hatch, New Mexico where Nunez also serves as mayor. This alert citizen was also concerned with the irregularities in Nunez’ financial reporting and had filed her own complaint with the Secretary of State’s office.
Did State Rep. Paul Pacheco break the law? That’s the question KRQE’s reporters and anchors asked Monday after we shared our investigation with them and the Attorney General. KRQE-TV’s Gabrielle Burkhart previewed the allegations and complaint in their lead story Monday night. You won’t believe Rep. Pacheco’s response:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico state representative Paul Pacheco is accused of using his position to get funding for a project that his brother benefited from… “All of the public money they needed to make this happen came in one scoop from one legislator in one session,” Davis added.
ProgressNow New Mexico filed a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General on Monday alleging that State Representative Paul Pacheco (R- Corrales, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque) used his position as a state legislator to help a construction project designed and managed by his brother secure hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds, in apparent violation of state laws and ethics rules. A full copy of the complaint filed with the Attorney General is included at the bottom of this post, but here’s what you need to know. The report has people asking if the project his brother designed and managed would have been completed without Rep. Pacheco’s earmarked capital outlay. Update: After we shared our investigation with KRQE-TV, they asked Paul Pacheco for a response. View their preview of the investigation and hear Pacheco’s response.
Even though Fox News would have you believe that every other Democrat voted under their dead grandpa’s name in Barack Obama’s last election, a recent study found that UFO sightings are more common than actual instances of voter fraud. Given that fact, perhaps it is appropriate that the state which boasts the country’s most infamous UFO crash landing is also home to a real actual case of voter fraud. Oh, and it was committed by a Republican. Again. 68-year old Eugene Victor of Corrales pled no contest to voter fraud this week to avoid prosecution by Attorney General Hector Balderas.
Santa Fe – New State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn barely had time to change the curtains in his new office before he was hit with an ethics complaint accusing him of giving a public contract to a local official who tried to put Dunn’s son on the county payroll. From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
“I believe there was a conflict of interest. This is about ethics.” – William Wheatley, Otero County
The complaint stems from two contracts, a short-term contract with the State Land Office benefiting Rardin and a proposed Otero County contract that would benefit Blair Dunn. It may also stem from bad blood between Otero County officials. Rardin was one of five people who signed short-term professional services contracts Jan.
The battle over Governor Martinez’s surprise plan to turn New Mexico’s non-profit behavioral health providers over to Arizona firms is heating up after a top senator agreed with the federal government that the change resulted in serving fewer patients at the same time one Arizona company laid off or fired 20 employees citing a need to reduce costs under their contracts which pays the company’s executives up to $300 an hour. First, from Sen. Mary Kay Papen and the Behavioral Health Collaborative:
Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, says a report by the interagency Behavioral Health Collaborative showed a decline of nearly 10,000 people getting services after Arizona companies replaced New Mexico providers in 2013. But the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez says the data being cited aren’t yet final and continues to dispute there was a drop-off in services… Papen pointed to the most recent quarterly report from the Behavioral Health Collaborative, which keeps track of the number of individuals served. It said New Mexicans served in mental health or substance abuse programs from July through September 2013 numbered 33,349, compared with 43,090 for the same quarter in 2012 – a drop of 22.6 percent.