Attorney General Hector Balderas Inconsistent and Hypocritical on Campaign Finance
Albuquerque, NM- While Attorney General Hector Balderas continues to talk tough on campaign finance reform and ask for strict penalties for those that violate the law, there are still looming questions about two high-dollar donors of his own— both of them likely to have broken the law.
“The Republican Party of New Mexico is still waiting for answers from the Attorney General’s Office over serious allegations raised by local media,” said Pat Garrett, spokesman for the Republican Party of New Mexico.
The Republican Party of New Mexico asked for an investigation in February when it became apparent that the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and Isleta Pueblo, both clients of Natasha Ning and Drew Setter, exceeded campaign contribution limits to then Speaker of the House Kenny Martinez.
Also, local news broke the story about Natasha Ning and Drew Setter being 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 more than the allowable limits to Hector Balderas’s campaign for Attorney General. The State GOP has continually asked the Attorney General’s Office to look into the matter of Representative Kenny Martinez and his political contributors.
“The Attorney General talks about campaign finance reform, but turns a blind eye when his own donors are called into question,” Garrett concluded.
The research document of all the political contributions from Natasha Ning and Drew Setter is attached to this 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)
The Journal Editorial Board Accused The 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)