Friday, October 10, 2008

THE LATEST ON JEROME

Public Regulation Commission candidate Jerome Block, Jr. today delivered a response to the Secretary of State as to why he lied on a campaign finance report about public money he spent.
But the Secretary of State’s office refused to let reporters see Block’s response.

The embattled Block delivered his written response shortly before 5 p.m. However spokesmen for Secretary of State Mary Herrera said the document wouldn’t be released until Monday at the earliest because Herrera and a deputy hadn’t had the chance to review the response.

Asked why it was important for the office to review the letter before letting reporters see it, spokesman James Flores said, “We don’t want to get inundated with calls about something we haven’t seen.”

Attempts to get a copy of the response from Block were unsuccessful.

The Secretary of State's Office on Monday of this week sent the letter to Block, asking him to "clarify" why he lied about a $2,500 expenditure in public campaign funds. The office also wanted to know Block’s explanation for a Sept. 24 e-mail exchange with a Las Vegas Optic reporter, in which Block admitted lying.

Block at first said he gave the $2,500 in public funds to San Miguel County Clerk Paul Maez's band, Wyld Country, to perform at a May rally. But he changed his story last month after two band members said there was no such performance.

At stake could be the seat Block hopes to win in November. Under the state Voter Action Act, violation of the statutes mentioned in the secretary of state's letter constitute a fourth-degree felony, and -- should matter go to trial and result in a conviction -- could strip Block of his right to vote.

The law also says a candidate who violates the Voter Action Act could face a civil penalty of $10,000 per violation and could be required to pay back all campaign funds. Between the primary and general-election races, Block has received $101,000 in state money.

Read more in Saturday's New Mexican. (Will update with link)

UPDATE: 7:49 p.m. James Flores called to tell me the document will be released on Saturday.

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