Conservation Voters NM looks to bash Pearce over ties to oil, gas industry

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The Conservation Voters New Mexico plans to spend about $500,000 to highlight the ties between Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce and the oil and gas industry, according to the Associated Press.

Conservation Voters New Mexico Executive Director Demis Foster said Wednesday that television and online ads take aim at Republican gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce for accepting campaign donations from the oil and gas sector while siding with the industry in Congress.

A television ad paid for by the conservation group's Verde Voters Fund says Pearce voted to make it easier to privatize public land.

Pearce campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan called that accusation false and ridiculous. He notes that Verde Voters Fund is supported by contributions from billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Conservation Voters New Mexico and CVNM Action Fund endorsed the entire slate of Democrats running for state office across the board, releasing the list Friday but admitted no other candidates were considered because they did not fill out the group’s questionnaire.

The group also endorsed Democrat Andrea Romero, who has been found negligent in two critical investigations that probed her financial management of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

According to Communications Director Liliana Castillo, the Conservation Voters New Mexico and CVNM Action Fund reviewed Romero’s conduct related to her management of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities and the two critical reports and found that she “complied with her employer’s directives around expense reimbursements and her reimbursements were approved by two different counties.”

“There is currently no evidence that Ms. Romero showed any intent to violate her employers policies or misspend tax dollars in any way,” Castillo said Friday. “The absence of evidence, combined with the clearly tainted motives of the people making the accusations, are enough for us to conclude that Ms. Romero remains a strong choice for the state legislature.”

At the beginning of August, a special audit conducted by State Auditor Wayne Johnson revealed more than $51,500 in “improper expenditure payments” from July 2014 through June 2018. The audit reported that $26,862 of those payments were to Andrea Romero Consulting Inc., a Santa Fe-based consulting firm owned by Romero.

Romero defeated incumbent Rep. Carl Trujillo in the Democratic primary for House District 46 after unsubstantiated sexual harassment allegations were made against him by a female lobbyist. Romero is being challenged by Democrat write-in candidate Heather Nordquist, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist of El Rancho.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.