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Another Democrat Lawmaker Faces Campaign Spending Issues
Madalena campaign spending examined
The Albuquerque Journal
By Dan Boyd / Capitol Bureau Chief
September 16th, 2015
SANTA FE – The Secretary of State’s Office is looking into campaign expenditures by longtime New Mexico lawmaker James Roger Madalena, who reported spending campaign money last year on surgery expenses, attire from a Nike factory store and to help a “needy family” in his legislative district.
Rep. Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo, also reported making campaign account disbursements last year – totalling more than $1,000 in cash – to pay for unspecified campaign expenses.
Madalena was contacted by the Journal on Monday and said he would provide a statement regarding questions about his campaign spending on Tuesday, but had not done so by late in the day.
The state’s Campaign Reporting Act, which governs the use of political contributions, says campaign funds can be used for campaign-related expenditures and expenses “reasonably related” to the duties of office.
It also limits the size of campaign account disbursements payable to “cash,” rather than an individual or entity, to no more than $100.
More specific state campaign reporting rules stipulate that clothing, massages, medical treatments for a candidate or any other person are not considered to be campaign expenditures.
Ken Ortiz, the chief of staff for Secretary of State Dianna Duran, said Madalena’s filings were not among the 10 percent of campaign reports randomly selected by the office for examination after last year’s election season, as is required by state law.
However, Ortiz said the secretary of state’s ethics staff has been alerted to concerns regarding Madalena’s campaign reports and a review will be conducted. Candidates who “knowingly and willingly” violate the state’s campaign laws can face fines and possible imprisonment.
Madalena is one of the longest-serving members of the Legislature, having served in the House of Representatives since 1985. He previously served as chairman of both the House Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committee and the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Madalena’s campaign expenditures were questioned by former Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Harvey Yates Jr. in a recent letter to the Journal in which he criticized Attorney General Hector Balderas’ approach to filing charges against Duran.
Specific campaign expenditures reported by Madalena in 2014 included:
- $226.06 for “health attire” from a Nike factory outlet store in Santa Fe on June 20.
- A $360 cash contribution to a “needy family” at Jemez Pueblo on Aug. 30.
- $306.56 for Internet and satellite service from DirecTV on Nov. 29. Smaller similar payments were reported on at least two other dates.
- $257.77 for a minor surgery co-pay in Albuquerque on Nov. 9.
- $43.76 for replacement of a watch battery and band on Nov. 15.
- Multiple distributions of more than $100 in “petty cash” for campaign expenditures in April.
Madalena was unopposed in last year’s general election. He defeated Orlando Lucero in the Democratic primary race. In all, Madalena reported receiving $45,314 and spending $39,044 during the 2014 election cycle, according to reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Campaign finance issues have dominated recent New Mexico headlines, prompting some government transparency groups and legislators to call for overhauling the state’s laws governing ethics, campaign finance and political spending oversight.
Most notably, Secretary of State Duran, a Republican, is facing criminal charges of fraud, embezzlement and money laundering for allegedly using campaign contributions to cover personal spending at casinos.
In addition, state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, an Albuquerque Democrat, acknowledged last week he failed to report more than $11,000 in contributions to his re-election campaign last year. He has updated his campaign finance reports to reflect the additional contributions.