- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A state Democratic Party official on Tuesday alleged ethical misconduct in expense reimbursements to a Democratic legislator who has broken party ranks to back Republican Gov. Susana Martinez on some issues.

An ethics complaint against Rep. Sandra Jeff of Crownpoint was filed with the secretary of state’s office by Democratic Party Executive Director Jon Lipshutz, who alleges the legislator was improperly reimbursed twice for some expenses.

A copy of the complaint also was sent to the attorney general’s office.

Jeff didn’t immediately respond to email and telephone messages seeking comment or to a pager notice left on her phone.

The complaint said Jeff received about $2,100 in taxpayer money for mileage and per diem payments for trips from Crownpoint to Santa Fe to attend committee meetings and other legislative business last November and December. Jeff also reimbursed herself with nearly $1,300 from her campaign for gas and food during the same time.

“This appears to be double-dipping because it is very unlikely that Rep. Jeff incurred campaign expenses on the same days as her 2013 legislative duties,” Lipshutz wrote.

Jeff is running as a write-in candidate in the November general election against Democrat Doreen Johnson of Gallup in House District 5, which covers portions of San Juan and McKinley counties. There’s no Republican seeking the seat.

The incumbent lost a court fight to appear on the June Democratic primary election ballot. She failed to submit enough valid nominating petition signatures to qualify as a candidate.

Jeff became a swing vote in the House with Democrats holding a narrow majority. She supported the governor and Republicans on key votes, including Martinez’s effort to stop New Mexico from issuing driver’s licenses to immigrants illegally in the country.

Ken Ortiz, a spokesman for Secretary of State Dianna Duran, said the agency had received the complaint and would forward it to Jeff, asking that she respond within 15 days.

Lipshutz said he could not comment on whether a similar ethics complaint had been submitted to the Legislature because those filings and proceedings are confidential under legislative rules.


Follow Barry Massey on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bmasseyAP

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