State taskforce on campaign finance reporting has met twice

Dan Schwartz The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The state task force announced in February to overhaul a campaign finance reporting system that has operated with little oversight in recent election cycles has met twice and is considering and creating policy recommendations, according to a spokesman for Attorney General Hector Balderas.

"The task force is ongoing, and these recommendations will be reviewed at the next meeting," James Hallinan said in an email on Friday.

He said the task force met April 8 and 17. No date is set for the next meeting.

Balderas and Secretary of State Dianna Duran announced the creation of the task force on Feb. 20 after The Daily Times reported that in the past two election cycles, Duran's staff had collected only 4 percent of the nearly 2,000 fines Duran imposed on candidates for violating the Campaign Reporting Act. Further, she took no enforcement actions on any of those fines and waived approximately one-third of them.

The task force is comprised of staff from Balderas' and Duran's offices. Its members are expected to recommend policy reforms and potential legislative fixes, according to the February press release announcing the group's formation.

State law allows Duran to refer campaign finance reporting violations to the Attorney General's office or a local district attorney for the misdemeanors to be investigated and prosecuted.

Since the task force was established, Balderas has received violation referrals from Duran's office, Hallinan said in an email. He did not say how many.

San Juan County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien said he wasn't aware of any referrals to his office.

Duran will consider the policies the task force creates, said her chief of staff and spokesman, Ken Ortiz.

"We've reviewed everything about how the system works, how our processes have been," he said.

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