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Rep. Moe Maestas Taking on More Water from Campaign Finance Allegations
State lawmaker says $11K in donations went unreported
The Albuquerque Journal
By Deborah Baker / Journal Staff Writer
September 11th, 2015 at 12:02am
SANTA FE – State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas says he failed to report more than $11,000 in contributions to his re-election campaign last year and has updated campaign finance reports to reflect them.
The Albuquerque Democrat said he was first made aware last week by a television reporter of his failure to report some contributions. When he looked into it, he found even more unreported donations, he said.
That boosted the total of unreported contributions from the $4,250 first reported by KOB-TV to $11,170, according to a list provided by Maestas.
In addition to adding 26 contributions to his campaign finance reports, Maestas amended reports to provide further detail for three separate $1,000 campaign expenditures. In those cases, the money went directly to Maestas for what he said was reimbursement for cash payments to campaign workers for signs and literature drops.
That raises the question of whether the expenditures complied with a state law that requires disbursements from campaign accounts – except those of $100 or less from a petty cash fund – to be done by check.
The legislator said Wednesday that the unreported contributions were deposited last year into his campaign account, and he provided bank records to back that up “to eliminate any appearance of impropriety.”
Maestas told Secretary of State Dianna Duran in a letter Wednesday that the checks that weren’t reported were part of deposits that were not available online “when my volunteers filed my campaign reports.”
“This was an error on my part that won’t be repeated,” Maestas said in a separate letter to Common Cause New Mexico and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
In a statement provided to the Journal, Maestas said he was “grateful that this issue was brought to my attention and I take full responsibility for any inaccuracies in my reports.”
Maestas amended two campaign finance reports for the 2014 primary election and three for the 2014 general election.
All told, Maestas – who has been a House member since 2007 – collected nearly $102,000 for his 2014 re-election campaign, according to online records in the Secretary of State’s Office.
“At this point, Rep. Maestas’ campaign finance reports have been assigned to our ethics staff for review to make a determination regarding whether further action is needed,” said Ken Ortiz, a spokesman in Duran’s office.
Duran herself was recently charged by the attorney general with crimes including illegally using her campaign contributions to cover personal spending at casinos.
According to Ortiz, Maestas paid fines of $1,175 in April of this year for a late 2014 filing, and $100 related to a late 2012 filing.
As reported by KOB-TV in February, Maestas was more than two months late filing a report that was due in early December.
By law, the secretary of state must review at least 10 percent of all reports – selected at random – filed during the year to determine compliance. Ortiz said Maestas had not been included in those random audits.