Three candidates miss deadline for campaign finance reports

Dan Schwartz
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Campaign finance reports for candidates in the recent general election were due last week, but three candidates missed the deadline to file and their reports still were not available Monday.

One of those candidates was in a race that attracted the most money in San Juan County. And, with a single exception, the candidates who raised the most money won their races.

Reports from Harrison Todacheene, Matthew Tso and Doreen Johnson were not listed as of Monday on the New Mexico Secretary of State's website. The filing deadline was midnight on Thursday.

Efforts to reach Todacheene and Tso on Friday and Monday were unsuccessful.

Johnson said Monday afternoon that her report would be submitted by 5 p.m. that day. A member of her family died, and that is why the report is late, she said. She mentioned no significant expenses or income for the reporting period.

The fourth and final set of campaign finance reports record donations received and transactions made from Oct. 29 to Nov. 29.

The secretary of state's office can fine each candidate $50 per business day a report is late, spokesman Rod Adair said. As of Monday, Tso had run up $4,750 in fines from the secretary of state's office for failing to file or filing late reports, Adair said.

The office encourages candidates to voluntarily comply with the reporting requirements, but it can also refer cases to the offices of the attorney general or local district attorney, Adair said.

"I guess we will have to start doing that with Mr. Tso," Adair said, "though the decision has not yet been made."

Candidates with overdue reports cannot run in another election until they either pay their fines or Secretary of State Dianna Duran dismisses their cases.

Todacheene, a Democrat, ran against Republican incumbent Sharon Clahchischilliage for the state representative District 4 seat in the Nov. 4 general election. District 4 covers an area that includes Shiprock and Kirtland. Clahchischilliage won.

Their race attracted the most contributions of any race in San Juan County. According to her campaign finance reports, Clahchischilliage received more than $112,000 — the largest amount of money for a single candidate — adding $4,425 in the final report. Todacheene's three reports show he has received more than $69,000.

Both candidates' third campaign finance reports recorded their largest expenses during the race. The third reporting period spans from Oct. 7 to Oct. 28. In those reports, Clahchischilliage spent almost $32,000 and Todacheene spent almost $31,000.

Approximately two thirds of the money Clahchischilliage spent that reporting period, she said, was to counter Todacheene's radio ads with her own. Clahchischilliage's fourth finance report shows her largest expenditures were also for radio ads, spending almost $4,600 in total.

"His attack ads started about three weeks before the election," Clahchischilliage said, "and I had to jump on board then. That's when I started responding."

Her ads began airing on numerous radio stations around that time, she said.

Every campaign the representative has run has gotten negative at the end, her opponents "saving the worst for last," she said. Their ads, she said, cut out and paste together clips of information but never tell the whole story.

"The goal is to present the out-of-context message," she said.

Clahchischilliage and Todacheene received significant donations from political action committees. The District 4 seat they ran for was one of the few around the state that Republican needed to win in order to gain a majority in the House of Representatives. They succeeded.

Except for one race, all the local candidates who received the largest amounts of campaign money won. Political action committees appear to account for more than 15 percent of the race's total donations, according to a Daily Times data analysis.

Johnson, a Democrat, had received approximately $30,700, according to her first three reports.

Johnson ran for the state representative District 5 seat against Democrat Sandra Jeff, a write-in candidate, and Johnson won. Jeff raised far less money — $3,170.

Republican Rod Montoya, now the District 1 representative, raised almost $24,400 compared to the approximately $11,250 his Democratic opponent, Gordon Glass, raised.

Republican James Strickler raised $18,025 in his successful bid for District 2 representative. His opponent, Nathan Thompson, a Democrat, raised no funds.

Republican Margaret McDaniel raised approximately $8,650 in her race — which she won — for county commissioner District 2. Democrat Ervin Chavez, her opponent, raised $2,850.

Republican Rena Scott raised more than $5,300 and Democrat Tso didn't raise any money in the race for Division 2 Magistrate Judge. Scott won.

Democrat Trudy Chase raised $4,711 in her race for Division 4 Magistrate Judge, and she won. Her Republican opponent, Melvin Sam, raised $1,358.

Democrat Wallace Charley, defying the trend, raised no money but beat Republican Sammy Ahkeah who raised $3,040. They were competing for the county commission District 1 seat.

"I'm just happy it's over with," Clahchischilliage said.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and Follow him @Dan_J_Schwartz on Twitter.