- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The top elections official in New Mexico’s most populous county announced Thursday that she will seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for secretary of state for a second time.

Bernalillo County clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver lost in 2014 to Republican incumbent Dianna Duran, who resigned from the position last year after being charged with using campaign donations to fuel a gambling addiction.

Toulouse Oliver said her goal would be “restoring accountability and trust in that office.”

She has been vocal in recent months about the need to boost transparency within the state’s campaign finance reporting system. She has said any reforms will require clear, consistent regulations that are enforceable.

Some lawmakers have proposed changes to the state’s campaign finance laws in hopes of closing some loopholes, but Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has not indicated whether she will include the issue on the agenda for the upcoming legislative session.

Toulouse Oliver said the state needs thorough audits of campaign finance statements, ideally by an independent firm or the State Auditor’s Office.

She also noted that the Secretary of State’s Office has no authority to review bank statements to confirm details of campaign finance reports.

Toulouse Oliver is an advocate for bringing back so-called straight ticket ballots, where voters can choose all the candidates from one party in one step without completing the full ballot. She believes the option does not favor any one party, although voters registered as Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Mexico.

No Republicans have announced plans to run for secretary of state this year. Duran became the first Republican to hold the office in decades when she was first elected in 2010.

After Duran’s resignation, the governor appointed Brad Winter, an Albuquerque city councilor, as interim secretary of state until someone is elected. Winter said he has no intention of running for the position.

The secretary of state is second in the line of succession for the governor’s office, following the lieutenant governor. The office is charged with administering and enforcing the state’s election and campaign finance reporting laws.


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