Romero says she will not return to coalition

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By Tris DeRoma

Andrea Romero, former executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, said Thursday she would not rebid for the contract to head the coalition.

Romero was hired as the coalition’s executive director in 2015 through Andrea Romero Consulting, LLC. Her contract naturally expired Feb. 28.

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

Romero is still running as a Democrat for a House seat in Santa Fe County’s District 46.

“I just filed yesterday,” Romero said. “That’s what’s next… there are a lot of other things going on to relation to the race. I’ve obviously made the commitment to run for this race and I will.”

Romero will face incumbent Carl Trujillo in the June 5 Democratic primary.

Romero said that though politics played a part, she believes in the mission of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

“I support the volunteers that have brought the board to fruition and the work that was being accomplished,” Romero said. “Whatever the capacity is that I can support the mission of the organization and ensuring that the outcomes are still achieved. I think it’s still a necessary organization.”

Romero also said the accusations over financial discrepancies that have been raised against her and the organization were purely political in nature.

“That’s the obvious conclusion, with the Northern New Mexico Protects allegations that were raised to begin with,” she said.

She did not have a comment regarding an investigation launched by New Mexico State Auditor Wayne Johnson.

“I don’t have any comment, because I’m no longer with the coalition,” Romero said.

She did however say that politics will most likely continue to dog the coalition and its mission.

“Now that a Susana Martinez appointee is going to be auditing the files, we’re going to continue to see the politicization of this issue continue to come out.”

The coalition represents the interests of nine communities, towns, counties and pueblos in northern New Mexico region, where the Los Alamos National Laboratory is located.

State Auditor Wayne Johnson announced his investigation Tuesday.

“There are enough concerns here to warrant a close look by an independent public accountant to make sure that all state laws were followed in the expenditure of public money,” Johnson said in a written statement. “We have seen expenditures for items like baseball tickets and $28 for a single glass of “Whistling Pig” whiskey. We don’t know the full story, but an independent audit will reveal if there are violations of the law and a misuse of public money.” 

The audit will also look to see if any members of the coalition, the coalition’s executive director Andrea Romero and her staff “double dipped” while on coalition business.

“The audit will also look to see if Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board members and/or Andrea Romero Consulting, LLC, received double reimbursements for mileage, per diem, or other expenditures. There are also issues of procurement that will be investigated,” the written statement also said.