Candidates criticize Romero over audit findings

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By Tris DeRoma

Andrea Romero, the Democratic candidate for House District 46, drew fire from past and present Dist. 46 candidates Friday after a state audit report found the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities improperly reimbursed RCLC members for travel, food and baseball tickets.


Romero served as executive director of the coalition from 2015 to February 2018. 

Romero’s contract as executive director came to a natural end in February. She decided not to rebid for the contract because she was gearing up for her campaign for the Democratic primary.

In February, just prior to Romero’s decision, allegations of financial mismanagement surfaced in a complaint from Northern New Mexico Protects, a land and water rights group.

Romero alleged the group had strong ties to her incumbent opponent State Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-46), who Romero was gearing up to run against in the June primary.

“I don’t plan to (submit a bid) at this point,” Romero said in March in a Los Alamos Monitor article. “It’s been way too politicized with the board, and there are a lot of other decisions to be made.”

Romero defeated Trujillo in the primary.

At the time the allegations against Romero surfaced, Heather Nordquist was the executive vice president of Northern New Mexico Protects, but resigned when she decided to run in July as a write-in Democratic candidate against Romero in November’s general election.

Nordquist told the Los Alamos Monitor in July one of her reasons for running was to clean up state government.

“I thought the people of the 46th District deserved a better choice, given the ethical challenges of the presumed winner,” Nordquist said at the time.

Nordquist said Tuesday’s audit just confirmed what was in NNMP’s original complaint.

“It was clear that what we found in our original request that she didn’t take the rules very seriously,” Nordquist said. “I’ve spoken about her ethical challenges, I think now it’s just been confirmed those are actually unlawful. I stand by my statements about the initial findings. There’s just more of them.”

Nordquist, who is a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, also thought Romero should be held to the same ethical standards as anyone else.

“I think that anyone that is asking for the public’s trust should have to earn that. Although I am not elected, I am responsible for doing that with my job at Los Alamos. I would be fired and taken off the premises if I used taxpayer money in the same way that she did,” Nordquist said.

Democratic state Rep. and incumbent Carl Trujillo said he was expecting the state auditor to make a finding against Romero.

“It is not a surprise,” Trujillo told the Monitor Tuesday. “What I do know is that I always stood for transparency and honest government as a legislator and I’m very proud of my record for that.”