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Judicial candidate appeals public financing ruling
Appellate judge candidate Dennis W. Montoya is appealing the secretary of state’s decision to reject his application for public financing.
Montoya’s campaign manager, Santiago Juárez, filed the appeal with the Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Mary Herrera sent Montoya a letter on Friday notifying him that he exceeded the $5,000 limit on what publicly financed candidates can contribute to their own campaigns as seed money. Montoya’s seed money report indicates that he contributed $8,887.29 to his campaign.
But Juárez wrote in his appeal that “seed money” is defined in state law as “a contribution raised for the primary purpose of enabling applicant candidates to collect qualifying signatures.” He said the $8,887.29 was for “general electioneering and preparation for delegate voting at the Democratic State Convention,” not for collecting petition signatures.
The problem, according to Juárez, is that the public financing law, which was recently expanded to included statewide judicial candidates, “is not clear how judicial candidates shall submit their general electioneering expenses for qualifying as a candidate through the convention process.”
The public financing law previously applied only to candidates for the Public Regulation Commission, who don’t have to compete for ballot position at their party’s preprimary nominating convention because they aren’t statewide candidates. Juárez wrote that the Montoya campaign is “trying to preserve the intent and integrity” of the law, but if it denies publicly financed statewide candidates their right to participate in the preprimary conventions, then it’s unconstitutional.
“However, given the ability to reasonably understand that it was not the intent of the writers (of the law) to foreclose the full participation by statewide candidates, the law can allow Mr. Montoya to participate and the New Mexico Legislature can fix the inconsistencies at the next legislative session,” Juárez wrote in his letter.
Montoya received Herrera’s letter Tuesday and had three days to challenge the ruling.
Deputy Secretary of State and Elections Director Don Francisco Trujillo confirmed that his office had received the appeal.
Trujillo said his office may have a decision on the appeal by next Wednesday.
“We are in the process of following the protocol and scheduling the appeal based on statute.
This is the earliest date that we tentatively expect a decision may be rendered by,” Trujillo said.
Montoya, an Albuquerque lawyer, is running against Appeals Court Judge Linda Vanzi in the Democratic primary.