State Auditor Wayne Johnson
SANTA FE ― State Auditor Wayne Johnson Friday notified the Secretary of State’s office that his office will conduct a special audit of primary election spending by candidates who receive public funds to run their campaigns.
This includes 12 candidates who will spend nearly $2 million of public monies combined between now and the general election Nov. 6, 2018.
Johnson says auditors will compare campaign reports with guidelines for permissible campaign expenditures to ensure that public dollars are used properly, even in the context of a political campaign.
“Two million dollars is a significant amount of public money. According to the Secretary of State’s own analysis, ten percent of candidates whose campaign reports were examined in 2017 were found to have violations of the Campaign Reporting Act,” Johnson said. “However, not a single publicly financed campaign was examined and, given a 10% error rate, it’s fair to ensure that candidates who choose to run a political campaign on taxpayer dollars are following all appropriate laws and rules in their campaign expenditures.”
The 12 candidates will receive $346,924 total for the primary election, and another $1,611,619 for the general election.
Johnson’s office will examine primary election spending after the final campaign spending reports are filed July 5, 2018.
Johnson’s letter to the Secretary of State says in part:
“In June 2017 your office produced its “Campaign Finance Random Examination Report-2016 Election Cycle.” In that report, you noted that your office reviewed ten percent (10%) of campaign reports filed during the 2016 Election Cycle, which included all of the reports of 106 candidates and political committees. Your report found that ten (10) of the 106 candidates and political committees had one or more violations of the Campaign Reporting Act, which represents 9.43% of the candidates whose reports were examined. .
“I have noted, however, that your random examination does not appear to have included any candidates who received public monies from the Public Election Fund in the 2016 Election Cycle. Given the high percentage of violations found in your random testing, the OSA has concerns regarding the potential for violations of the Voter Action Act by candidates who spend public funds.”
State law allows candidates for the PRC or any statewide judicial seat to apply for public financing. Candidates who qualify and are certified by the SOS receive varying amounts of money depending on the office sought, their political affiliation (for primary elections), and whether or not they have an opponent. For example, state-wide judicial candidates will each receive $180,656 in the 2018 general election.