Roswell – Representative Candy Ezzell called today for an investigation of OLÉ Education Fund. OLÉ, which purports to advocate early childhood education initiatives, announced yesterday that it had released a series of political ads aimed at gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce for his position on public lands. The ads are part of a dark money effort called ‘Step Up Steve,’ a partisan attack group that is attempting to influence New Mexico’s governor’s race.
Rep. Ezzell is asking the Attorney General and State Auditor to investigate whether OLÉ has violated its charter and its nonprofit tax status by diverting funds from children’s education initiatives to pay for political attacks despite its stated mission as a grassroots organizing non-profit and classification as a 501(c)(3).
“The organized effort by left-wing attack groups is a concerted effort to tip the scales of the governor’s race for Democrats,” Rep. Ezzell said. “It’s shameful that OLÉ Education Fund would take money intended to promote education for New Mexico’s kids and spend it on misleading political attacks. New Mexico’s top elected watchdogs need to look into whether OLÉ Education Fund has committed a serious violation of its nonprofit status.”
“New Mexico relies on revenues from federally controlled land to fund our public schools. So the OLÉ Education Fund is diverting money from its educational programs for political ads to advocate for cuts to schools. That is the height of hypocrisy and demonstrates they are a wildly irresponsible and erratic organization.”
The Step Up Steve ad campaign funded by OLÉ Education Fund opposes a recent public lands lease by the Bureau of Land Management, which put $63 million into the state budget for New Mexico schools, teachers, law enforcement, and hospitals.
The investigation of OLÉ Education Fund should include determining if they defrauded their grant makers by diverting grant money to these political ads.