New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver admitted last week that election regulators have yet to complete the required spot checks for campaign finance compliance.
The Associated Press reports that regulators are required by the state’s Campaign Reporting Act to review at least 10 percent of campaign finance reports from all of New Mexico's political candidates and committees, selected at random. These reports are to be prepared and completed following statewide elections and after April finance reporting deadlines in odd-numbered years.
In 2016, the review for financial compliance examined 106 randomly selected candidates and political committees. The review revealed that an unregistered nonprofit contributed to the campaign of the Republican House speaker, a prohibited gun raffle was held by the Republican Party of Luna County and a candidate spent campaign funds on clothing and a chiropractor.
But Toulouse Oliver says a lack of staff and underfunding are making the task of examining campaign finance reports from 2018 take longer than expected. State Elections Director Mandy Vigil told reporters that the secretary of state's office would be hiring additional staff to complete the reviews.
Toulouse Oliver and Vigil said a new online campaign finance information system that will make the task easier will be introduced in April 2020. Starting in 2020, the secretary of state’s office will share jurisdiction over campaign finances with the State Ethics Commission.
AG Warns Against Coyote Killing Contest
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has warned alleged organizers and participants of a coyote killing contest against following through with their plans.
According to the KRQE, a member of an animal advocacy group discovered a private Facebook invitation advertising “Dogzilla: Best of the Best”—an organized coyote killing contest organized by a resident of Curry County. Contests like these were banned by state lawmakers in July.
Reporters spoke to the man organizing the event, and he said he didn't believe his contest was illegal. “This is in Texas … This has nothing to do with New Mexico,” he said. He reportedly said the contest was to be held somewhere in the Texas Panhandle, but refused to give more details.
Last week, Balderas released a statement reminding the public that if anyone organizes one of these contests, they could be charged with a misdemeanor. Those who participate could be charged with a petty misdemeanor. “While I support a rancher’s right to protect their livestock and land,” he said, “the law does not allow the unlimited killing of animals through the use of contests for cash prizes.”
ART Service Begins
Last weekend, Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) buses officially rolled out for the first time.
According to KOB, the first ART bus began its trip down Central Avenue early Saturday morning. Transportation ambassadors were stationed at each of ART's 19 stops to help passengers and answer questions.
The new bus system will carry passengers on a route along Central Avenue every 10 minutes that utilizes two bus-only lanes. Law enforcement officials said officers will be issuing warning citations to motorists using those bus lanes, but will begin issuing fines in earnest soon. ART rides are free until Dec. 31. Tickets will cost $1 starting Jan. 2.