Attorney General Balderas Refuses to Investigate Top Donors Despite Possible Ethics Violations

Posted On June 9, 2015


Attorney General Balderas Refuses to Investigate Top Donors Despite
Possible Ethics Violations

Albuquerque, NM- After Attorney General Hector Balderas has refused to investigate Representative Kenny Martinez for allegedly offering capitol building office space to his top lobbyists, the New Mexico Republican Party is providing a document that explains why. The two lobbyists, Natasha Ning, Drew Setter and their clients were major financial contributors to Balderas’s past political campaigns.  Also, Natasha Ning’s business partner is Balderas’s political consultant.

“Attorney General Hector Balderas has refused to investigate his top donors despite the serious ethical questions that were raised by local media,” said Pat Garrett, Republican Party of New Mexico spokesman.

Local news broke the story about two lobbyists, Natasha Ning and Drew Setter, who were possibly given office space in the New Mexico State Capitol free of charge to conduct their private lobbying business.  Official documents also reveal that Natasha Ning’s business partner is Caroline Buerkle, Balderas’s paid political operative. The Republican Party of New Mexico compiled several campaign finance reports that showed these lobbyists and their clients donated a combined $15,000 to Hector Balderas’s campaign for Attorney General.

Balderas is often seen as a rising star in his party, and recently the Albuquerque Journal’s Editorial Board slammed Balderas for using his office to advance his own political ambitions as well as those of his party. They said it could create a dilemma of impartiality.

Questions surrounding these issues continue to go unanswered, and it is clear Balderas is protecting his financial backers, political operatives as well as his own party.

“New Mexico deserves a fair and transparent investigation into this matter,” Garrett concluded.

The recorded donations along with the proper campaign finance reports are attached to the press release.

Further background information can be found below:

In February, Local News Broke The Story Concerning Allegations That Rep. Kenny Martinez Gave Office Space To Two Lobbyists Who Donated To His Campaign. “It’s common practice these days for lobbying companies to donate thousands of dollars to lawmakers’ campaigns or political action committees.  Skeptics of the system criticize the system, saying that is how lobbyists ‘buy votes.’  But there are new allegations that perhaps one lawmaker gave two lobbyists more than just his votes; it’s alleged he also gave his office space. Rep. Kenny Martinez (D-Grants) served as Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives for two years.  But when Republicans won the majority of seats in the House during the November mid-term elections, Martinez Lost His Post And High-Ranking Republicans Started Digging.” (“4 Investigates: ‘Did A Lawmaker Sell The Keys To The Capitol?’” KOB News, 2/2/15)

In April, An Albuquerque Journal Editorial Said That The AG’s Impartiality And Political Bias Could Become An Issue. “When the attorney general of the state of New Mexico is asked for a legal opinion, or to seek redress in a civil matter, or to look into prosecution of an alleged wrongdoing, you expect that office to carry out its duties irrespective of party lines. Ditto when the state auditor is doing the work of that office to ensure public money is being used as intended and that all is accounted for. These are offices that should by definition inspire confidence fueled in part by a sense of impartiality. They are supposed to be governed by rule of law and protect the taxpayers’ bottom line.” (“Editorial: New Mexico’s AG, Auditor Should Take High Ground,” Albuquerque Journal, 5/29/15)

They Then Accused To AG Of Jockeying For Position In The Next Election. “Yet this month both AG Hector Balderas and Auditor Tim Keller, as they jockey for position in the next election, have sent out emails not just scrounging for donations, but specifically asking either for money to knock Republicans out of office and keep and elect their fellow Democrats or to support ‘candidates who will join in our fight. …’” (“Editorial: New Mexico’s AG, Auditor Should Take High Ground,” Albuquerque Journal, 5/29/15)