Saturday, October 11, 2008

JEROME'S RESPONSE

The Secretary of State's office this morning released Jerome Block Jr.'s official response to questions about his $2,500 campaign expenditure, of which he has admitted lying.

Here's the Public Regulation Commission candidate's explanation:


In April of 200 I entered into an agree with Mr. Paul Maez of the Wyld Country Band to play at a campaign event scheduled for May in La's Vegas, N.M. Our campaign was to pay $2,500 for this performance. In accordance with the New Mexico campaign reporting Act ... the payment for this performance was reported on Form C of the Report of Expenditures & Contributions as campaign expenditure for “Rally Entertainment.” This form was filed with your office on July 3rd, 2008.

Due to a scheduling conflict Mr. Maez’s band was unable to play on that date. In light of this, we agreed that the band would play at another event before the June primary. Subsequent to making those arrangements, Mr. Maez informed me that his band would be unable to play an event by June 3rd. Based on our agreement, I decided to set aside those funds for the sole purpose of paying him for a later performance. Inasmuch, I reported the $2,500 as an expenditure on Form C as “Rally Entertainment” for the purpose of paying a band for its performance in the future.

At some point I erroneously stated to Mr. David Giuliani of the Las Vegas Optic that the Wyld Country Band had in fact played at an event. I negligently made this statement. My negligence was due to the pressure and details of the campaign. My intent was not to mislead, confuse or disguise any expenditure on the part of my campaign.

On Sept. 24th, 2008 I explained to Mr. Giuliani via e-mail that the band had not played, but was planning to at a later event. Because of the attention given to this discrepancy, and to avoid the appearance of impropriety, I canceled a campaign rally scheduled for September 27th, 2008 in Las Vegas at which the band was scheduled to play. Upon canceling this event, Mr. Maez returned the $2,500 to my campaign. Because this money was unspent and unencumbered by any future debts it was returned to the Public Election Fund on September 26th in accordance with the New Mexico Election Code ...

This response will raise more questions about Block. It's not clear from this exactly when or why Block cancelled his Sept. 27 rally.

In a Sept. 18 interview with The New Mexican's Doug Mattson -- which took place when Block was sticking with his story that Wyld Country had played the May rally which he claimed attracted 75 to 100 people -- Block said he was cancelling the Sept. 27 shindig because of the possible perception of "impropriety" because Maez also serves as San Miguel County clerk. His response to the Secretary of State appears to say he cancelled it because of the attention given to the "discrepancy" of the May rally never actually taking place.

UDATE: My story posted on The New Mexican's site is HERE

A pdf of Block's response is HERE

Block's opponent Rick Lass of The Green Party responded to Block's response. He said:

First, it is clearly illegal to use primary funds for the general election under the campaign financing law. For Jerome to make a payment to the band using primary funds for a gig to be played in September is against the law, and he acknowledges in yesterday's letter that that is what he did.

His campaign finance report of July 3 shows he made the payment June 9, after the primary election was held.

He says that he lied to Giuliani because of the pressure of media calls. If he can't handle the pressure of accounting for his actions to his constituents, how will he stand up to the pressure of industry lobbyists and the media spotlight if he is a PRC Commissioner?

I worked hard along with other activists to enact public campaign financing, and one of the objections we heard was that candidates would use public funds improperly. We said that that would not happen because there would be strong enforcements written into the law. I call on the Secretary of State and Attorney General to act swiftly and decisively in this matter to uphold the integrity of the public financing system.

Jerome's most recent letter merely adds to his history of missteps and misstatements, and proves that he is unfit to hold the critical job of representing New Mexicans on the Public Regulation Commission.

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