The New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office is charged with investigating complaints related to elections and ethics under New Mexico law. Our statutory authority to investigate is limited to the following portions of state and federal law:
- Election Code and Campaign Practices (Chapter 1 NMSA);
- Lobbyist Regulation Act (Chapter 2, Article 11 NMSA);
- Municipal Election Code (Chapter 3, Articles 8 and 9 NMSA);
- School District Elections (Chapter 22, Article 6 and 7, NMSA);
- Governmental Conduct Act (Chapter 10, Article 16 NMSA);
- Financial Disclosure Act (Chapter 10, Article 16A NMSA); and
- Public Law 107-252, The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”).
Complaints received that are outside the scope of our authority are not investigated by our office. However, we will make reasonable efforts to inform the complainant of agencies that may have authority over the issues outlined in the complaint.
Please note that both the Campaign Reporting Act and the School District Campaign Reporting Act contain timeframes in which complaints related to either act may be filed. Specifically, any person who believes that a provision of either act has been violated may file a complaint any time prior to ninety days after an election, except that no complaints from the public may be filed within eight days prior to an election. (NMSA 1978 §§ 1-19-34.4 (C) and 1-22A-6 (A)).
If you believe your complaint falls under the authority of our office, please submit your complaint, in writing, to our office, on the Complaint Form. Our office accepts complaints in both original and electronic form, but we do prefer e-mail. All complaints require the following information:
- The complainant’s name, address, and a working telephone number and/or a valid e-mail address;
- The complainant’s signature (either electronic or original);
- The date the complainant signed the form;
- The respondent’s name, address, and a working telephone number and/or a valid e-mail address; and
- A reasonably particular description of the allegations against the respondent, along with any exhibits or evidence supporting the allegations. These items are written separately from and submitted simultaneously with the Complaint Form.
We do not process or investigate anonymous complaints. The Ethics Division will communicate with both parties via their indicated preferred method of communication. However, it is the responsibility of the complainant, to the best of their knowledge, to provide valid contact information for both parties. We will not investigate contact information for either party.
Following receipt of the complaint, the Complaint Review Committee, composed of various Secretary of State leadership and ethics staff, will review the complaint, along with any attachments or exhibits. If it is determined that the complaint does not provide enough information to reasonably identify the allegations or the body of law that has allegedly been violated, or if the complaint is missing required information, we will return the complaint and request the complainant provide further information.
If the complaint is complete, the Ethics Bureau will forward it to the respondent, providing the respondent fifteen (15) days to respond. Once we receive the response, we will provide it to the complainant, who will then have ten (10) days to submit a reply, if desired. The Complaint Review Committee will review the documentation and either make a determination based upon the information provided or request further information from either party. Unless further information is requested, the Complaint Review Committee will not consider ongoing correspondence from either party. Reasonable requests for extensions of deadlines are typically granted by the Complaint Review Committee.
Please note, unless the allegations concern violations of specific federal laws, the respondent is under no legal obligation to respond to the complaint. However, the Complaint Review Committee will make a determination with or without a response from the respondent. Please also keep in mind that our office will make every effort to process and act upon each complaint as soon as possible. However we are not under any legal obligation to submit official determinations within a specific amount of time, again, unless the allegations concern potential violations of certain federal laws.
If, at the end of our investigation it is determined that a violation has occurred, we may refer the complaint to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office or a district attorney. Once referred, the complaint will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State.
All documents submitted with or pertaining to a complaint are subject to inspection under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.
If you have any additional questions, please contact the Ethics Division.