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Our View: Some things come as no surprise

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By The Staff

There was a report in the AP that former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron reportedly spent $6.4 million in federal money on a voter education ad campaign during the 2004 and 2006 election cycles. Ads that did little but give the outgoing secretary lots of air time.And this report is not from some disgruntled opponent but from current secretary of state, Mary Herrera – a fellow Democrat.The money spent on these ads total about a third of all federal Help America Vote Act money New Mexico received to help plan and run those elections.Vigil-Giron was criticized at the time for the excessive number of television and radio ads. Republicans complained that Vigil-Giron’s appearance in the public service announcements was designed to increase her name recognition among voters.The ads prompted Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to ask the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to review how Vigil-Giron spent federal money on them.The commission cleared her in February 2005.However, said last year it was taking another look to determine whether Vigil-Giron’s administration followed federal laws and regulations in spending $19.3 million in federal election money from April 2003 through 2006. That investigation is continuing.Vigil-Giron is now seeking the Democratic nomination for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District seat.The Election Assistance Commission said last year about $5 million of the $19.3 million could be spent to improve the administration of elections for federal office, educate voters, and train election officials and poll workers.A year ago, the commission determined several reports required from the secretary of state’s office were missing or incomplete.A separate audit by the state’s Department of Finance and Administration last March found a shortfall of as much as $3 million when Vigil-Giron left office in December 2006 after two terms. It listed such problems as failing in some instances to earmark money for services and goods with purchase orders, so there was no money available when bills came due.Herrara should be congratulated for getting the department back on track.