AG Opens Review Of Longtime State Legislator’s Campaign Spending

State Rep. Andy Nuñez 
NMAG News:
LAS CRUCES  New Mexico’s Attorney General is reviewing irregularities in the campaign accounts of Republican State Rep. Andy Nuñez after ProgressNow New Mexico filed a complaint outlining more than 40 different instances where Nuñez reported using his campaign cash to provide himself cash payments, travel to official events reimbursable by taxpayers (double-dipping) and purchases of power tools, truck parts and repairs to his personal office.
According to an article in the Las Cruces Sun News, “I can confirm the Office of the Attorney General has received a referral, which has now been made public by ProgressNow New Mexico, and this matter is under review,” said James Hallinan, a spokesman for Attorney General Hector Balderas. “All complaints received by the Office of the Attorney General are fully reviewed and appropriate action is taken.”
Attorney General Hector Balderas
In August, ProgressNow New Mexico filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office in Las Cruces against Nunez. Nunez may have violated state law, the New Mexico Constitution, and House ethics rules for improper use of campaign funds in multiple incidents over several years.
In short, it appears that Nunez paid himself:
  • More than $4,000 in cash payments to himself, in direct violation of state law;
  • New Mexico law specifically prohibits candidates from drawing more than $100 in cash from their campaign funds. NMSA Section 1-19-34.A.(3), the Campaign Reporting Act, states: All disbursement [from the campaign fund account] except for disbursements made from a petty cash fund of one hundred dollars ($100) or less shall be by check made payable to the person or entity receiving the disbursement and not to “cash” or “bearer”…;
  • More than $1,300 for personal items such as tires and taillights for his truck, power tools from Sears and repairs to his home office; and
  • $5,000+ for mileage (at various reimbursement rates he apparently created) for thousands of undocumented miles of travel each year.
Campaign finance reports also show that Nuñez:
  • Utilized campaign funds to pay for travel while working as a lobbyist, in likely violation of state laws governing both campaign finance and lobbying; and
  • Paid himself for official travel reimbursable by taxpayers.
In 2011, then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran investigated similar spending by then-Sen. Mary Jane Garcia (D) and found cash payments to legislators in any form and using campaign funds for official travel both illegal uses of campaign funds. Garcia was found guilty, fined and later lost her election. Similarly, former Sen. Phil Griego (D) is under investigation by the Attorney General for improperly using campaign funds for personal benefit.
ProgressNow has as its mission to help New Mexicans understand the civic process and engage with public policy makers whose decisions impact our daily lives. Clean government and ethical behavior by public officials is a cornerstone of our democracy on which public trust is built, and we encourage those who engage with us to support those values in elected officials.