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It looks like Santa Fe's Ethic and Campaign Review Board will have its hands full this election season. This morning, Jeff E Green filed an ethics complaint against Joe Maestas in District 2 City Council race. Here are the breaking news on-air segments from the Dec. 10 Julia Goldberg Morning Show, during which Goldberg received both Green's complaint and a response from Maestas.
Here is Green's statement (followed by a Maestas response):
Evidence of Joseph M. Maestas’s Missing Expenditure for Campaign Signage, Excessive Spending Prompts Complaint Filed Monday with Santa Fe Ethics and Campaign Review Board
A complaint filed today with the city’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board charges that City Council candidate Joseph M. Maestas has violated the public campaign finance code by failing to submit a true and complete seed money expenditure report.
“The accounting for Joseph Maestas’s purchase of his signature signage from Focus Ink, including the huge sign often seen being hauled around town in the back of Joseph’s pickup truck, is nowhere to be seen in his seed money report,” says environmental activist Jeff E. Green, who filed the complaint and is also running for the open City Council seat in District 2.
The fine print on Joseph Maestas’s signage says "Paid for by Joseph Maestas for Santa Fe," the name of his treasurer, Anna Hansen, and “Printed by Focus Ink, Inc. 335 Jefferson St, ABQ NM,” but there is no payment to Focus Ink listed within Maestas’s seed money expenditure report. The missing expenditure implies that Maestas did not submit a complete report of expenditures, Green claims.
In addition to violating the public finance code by not providing a true and complete accounting of his campaign’s expenditures, Green’s complaint charges that Maestas may have also flouted the law by exceeding the $1,500 limit on expenditures during the seed money phase of the campaign, and by making expenditures on his campaign from a source other than seed money contributions.
“These practices suggest that Maestas has sought to gain unfair advantage compared to the other publicly financed candidates in the District 2 election,” says Green. “Whether he spent $5 or $500 on signage, this was an expense above and beyond the $1500 actually listed in his seed money expenditure report. Therefore, this appears to comprise a violation of the public campaign finance code and the integrity of Santa Fe’s election process.”
"If seed money didn't pay for the signage, where did that funding come from?” Green asks.
“When a publicly financed candidate for public office violates the public trust by making campaign expenditures that are not completely and accurately disclosed, that leaves the door open to gross ethical misconduct,” Green adds. “If one candidate takes it upon himself to spend unlimited funds and not report those expenditures, it defeats the whole purpose for public campaign financing. Everyone must play by the same rules, or else the system doesn’t work.”
Green hopes an investigation by the Ethics and Campaign Review Board will uncover how much Maestas has spent on his signage, the source of the payment, the reason why this expenditure was not included in his seed money report, and whether there are any additional existing campaign expenditures or funding sources that were not disclosed in Maestas’s seed money report.
Green details in the complaint that he first saw Maesta’s campaign signage in use on September 8, 2013 at the annual Fiesta parade in Santa Fe. Evidence attached to the complaint includes photographs of Maestas’s signage that Green recorded on that day, plus e-mail correspondence between Maestas and Green which verifies that the two candidates met during the Fiesta parade for a short and casual conversation about environmental sustainability topics.
The Ethics and Campaign Review Board has the authority to impose a range of sanctions for Campaign Code violations that include issuing a public reprimand, imposing a fine, or in the case of a violation of the Public Campaign Finance Code, revoking a candidate’s certification as a participating candidate.
1) Joseph Maestas's Seed Money Report: www.santafenm.gov/
2) Cover photo of Joesph Maesta's campaign signage on his own Facebook page: www.facebook.com/joseph.
Here is Maestas's response:
"I believed I was in compliance when we filed our seed money reports. There were expenditures to two vendors that I haven’t been billed for and haven’t yet paid. Those expenditures are for two banners, placards, and a robo call (which Jeff Green did not include in his complaint). The banners, placards, and robo call included a full disclaimer saying there were from my campaign.
I paid for costs that I was billed for. I intend to pay the vendors once I have received their invoices and I will fully disclose the expenditure amounts in our next financial disclosure report.
I strongly believe in the public finance program as demonstrated by collecting twice the number of $5 qualifying contributions required. We deposited a total of $1500 into the public finance fund - the most of any City Council candidate.
In retrospect, I should have included each expense in our seed money expenditure report regardless of the billing circumstances. This is a lesson learned and I take full responsibility. I look forward to continuing our full and transparent participation in the public finance program."