I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Rio Grande Sun goes deep into allegations against Herrera
The Rio Grande Sun published new details from its interview with former state Elections Director A.J. Salazar today, going with a great deal of depth into his allegation that there are “elements of corruption” in the Secretary of State’s Office – those elements being Secretary of State Mary Herrera and Deputy Secretary of State Don Francisco Trujillo.
Much of what’s contained in the Sun article was included in a less comprehensive article the newspaper published earlier this week. But there are many new details worth mentioning – including an e-mail exchange about whether the office should be soliciting donations to help fund an upcoming training event from business that contract with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Feb. 12 e-mail exchange between Salazar and Herrera came after Salazar took concerns about the donations to the Attorney General’s Office, the Sun reported. It began with an e-mail from Herrera:
“AJ this is the second time you went over my head, first time with IT and now (individual’s name blacked out) had no right running to you. She said she doesn’t agree always with DON F (Don Francisco Trujillo) and I. I brought to her attention how about the times you two go walking around disappearing from office. Ethic? Who is judging who. I do not appreciate you who I depend on going over my head.”
Salazar, the Sun reported, sent that e-mail to the assistant AG with a note that read, “I am clearly being targeted here and I am very uncomfortable about her veiled accusation about me and a married, female co-worker. Please document this.”
Salazar was quoted by the Sun as saying that female employee, who he did not name, approached him with concerns because she had been ordered to seek donations from businesses. Salazar said he stopped her from making a solicitation by telling her it might be illegal, the newspaper reported.
‘Where are your signatures?’
Another allegation made by Salazar is that Herrera ordered exempt employees to each gather 1,000 signatures to help her get on the ballot for this year’s re-election campaign. Salazar said he was, in the words of the newspaper, “frequently pestered at work for the signatures.”
“I was constantly being asked by her secretary (Paula Templeton), ‘Where are your signatures?’” the newspaper quoted Salazar as saying. “It was something I would have done anyway as a supporter.”
Salazar said Herrera claimed other statewide elected Democratic officials were doing the same thing, but he doubted that, since the personnel code bans employees from soliciting others to engage in political activity – and from engaging in political activity themselves – while on duty.
“It was pretty shocking to me that it was coming from the chief elections office of the state,” the Sun quoted Salazar as saying. “’Everyone else is doing it’ did not carry much weight because they are not the chief elections officer.”
The Sun article also includes allegations related to an IT employee in the Secretary of State’s Office and what Salazar said was the last straw for him – legislation Herrera sought during this year’s regular session and then pulled her support from because, Salazar claimed, “it provided for transparency.”
Read the entire article to get the details on those allegations.
Herrera refused to comment for the Sun article and Trujillo, the newspaper wrote, did not return calls seeking comment.
The Independent has requested a copy of Salazar’s resignation letter, but Herrera’s office has thus far refused to release it, though the AG and New Mexico Foundation for Open Government say it’s a public record.