Trujillo: Campaign finance complaint is baseless

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By Tris DeRoma

An Alcalde woman filed a complaint against State Rep. Carl Trujillo D-46 Monday with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. The complaint alleges Trujillo is hiding campaign contributions to his 2018 reelection campaign.

“I believe that Mr. Trujillo has violated New Mexico campaign finance laws by willfully concealing specific contributions to his 2018 reelection campaign, in violation of state law.

The Secretary of State’s Office has yet to notify Trujillo of the complaint.

Trujillo’s accuser, Denie Cordova, specifically alleges that he hid finances coming from a telecommunications company and sources from New Mexico’s oil and gas industry.

“Mr. Trujillo failed to disclose thousands of dollars on his campaign finance reports from donors related to CenturyLink and the oil and gas industry, which is against the law,” Cordova said. “Because his failure to disclose these contributions relate to these two industries solely, I believe his failure to disclose was willful.

Cordova speculated in her complaint that Trujillo was allegedly hiding the funds so the oil and gas industry would not appear to be the largest contributor to his campaign.

Cordova said she thinks this is being done with the help of another state representative, Patricio Ruilobo (D-Dist. 12) who is running unopposed this year.

“Unopposed again this year, Mr. Ruilobo has suddenly raised over $17,000, or a third of the amount he has raised since being initially elected. Mr. Ruilobo has received numerous contributions from businesses who have never donated to his campaign, but are contributors to Mr. Trujillo, such as Occidental Petroleum ($2,500), Chevron ($1,000); and Encana ($1,000),” Cordova said in her complaint. “…Did Mr. Trujillo funnel contributions from oil and gas through Mr. Ruilobo’s campaign account? These ‘pass-through’ contributions are illegal in the state of New Mexico.”

Joey Keefe, communications director for the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, said Tuesday that the office had received the complaint.

“The first step is, we send a letter to whoever the complaint is against… basically asking for more information and clarification,” Keefe said.

Trujillo will have 10 days to respond.

Trujillo said he thought it was suspicious that someone who lives outside his district would file such a detailed complaint.

“It’s interesting that someone who lives outside the district has filed this complaint,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo has said the accusations he’s hiding specific contributions is false.

“I am probably the No. 1 representative or senator in the state that receives the vast majority, 90 percent of my contributions, from grassroots organizations, individuals and small businesses,” he said. “I raised a lot of money from many small businesses and individuals within the district. Those characteristics of my campaign funding are completely untrue.”

He also said it was not true that he took more than $2,500 from a campaign contributor, namely, CenturyLink.

“One campaign contribution came from a telecommunication pact, the other came from a telecommunication, therefore, there is no violation,” Trujillo said. “She is claiming that they are from the same company, ($500 from CenturyLink, $2,500 from CenturyLink lobbyist Katherine Martinez) and that is completely untrue,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo said the $2,000 Encana Gas and Oil contribution Cordova said he failed to report was actually sent back.

“I sent many contributions back throughout my tenure as a legislator. I have probably sent 30 to 40 contributions back,” Trujillo said.

When asked why he would send contributions back, Trujillo said, “Because of what we’re dealing with now. Campaigns that have nothing to grab onto make desperate attempts to make somebody look bad. People refuse to run for office because of tactics like this.”

Trujillo is in a primary race with Andrea Romero, an entrepreneur and former executive director of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, a coalition of communities affected by the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

State Auditor Wayne Johnson is auditing the coalition for travel expense discrepancies that occurred when Romero was executive director.

A complaint filed by Northern New Mexico Protects alleged that Romero spent over $1,850 on a dinner and  $307 for alcohol and baseball tickets during a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C.

When the accusations broke in February, Romero alleged Northern New Mexico Protects had political connections to Trujillo and therefore the complaint was politically motivated.

Cordova alleges that Trujillo failed to amend his campaign finance report to include baseball tickets given to him by Johnny Montoya, a CenturyLink lobbyist.

“That is not a campaign contribution, there is no place to amend my report, it’s all within the limits of the Campaign Finance Act, so there’s no violation there.”

Primary Democrat candidate Romero did not return calls for comment.