Los Alamos County Sheriff’s Candidate James Whitehead. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Candidate for Los Alamos County Sheriff James Whitehead responded Tuesday evening to reports that he has been fined some $700 by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office for failure to file his most recent campaign financial disclosure forms prior to the Sept. 10 deadline.
The fine is calculated at $50 per day for each business day after the deadline, Whitehead said.
A review of the Secretary of State’s website shows that the overdue report, which is the first general election report due, was submitted Sept. 30 and indicates that Whitehead’s campaign received no contributions and had no expenditures for the prior three month-period.
Whitehead has had previous issues with reports which he said were submitted by his campaign manager and treasurer Todd Hathorne of Rio Rancho with the help of a volunteer. Those four reports for the primary election cycle were eventually amended Aug. 30. Prior to that they showed the addresses but no names for contributors, only the designation “individual”.
When contacted in late June about the contributor name issue, Deputy Secretary of State John Blair agreed that there was an issue with the spreadsheet uploaded by the Whitehead campaign and that his office would reach out to Whitehead to have the spreadsheet corrected. Contacted again in Aug. 7, Blair said staff had reached out to Whitehead to assist with what appeared to be a technical issue.
“Technical in that the actual names of the individuals were included in the file but it does not appear to have uploaded correctly. Our staff has followed up again with Mr. Whitehead to seek voluntary compliance and we expect him to come into voluntary compliance by the end of the week,” Blair said in an email. He added that his staff was preparing a written notice to be sent to Whitehead if the matter was not resolved by the end of that week.
“I was notified of the previous issues with my filings concerning names of individuals not being included. This was a glitch in the campaign finance reporting spreadsheet provided by the Secretary of State’s Office. It is my understanding that the word ‘Individual’ was entered in the column for ‘Business Name’, and that caused the word ‘Individual’ to appear in the name field for each of my donors in the actual campaign finance reports,” Whitehead said Tuesday evening. “I do not fully understand how this error went undetected for so long, but as you may already know, several reports had been filed with this error before my campaign became aware of the issue.”
The issues with the primary election reports were finally resolved Aug. 28.
Another sheriff’s candidate Chris Luchini told the Los Alamos Reporter he was notified June 26 by someone checking his list of donors that the names of the donors were not showing on the website. He said he immediately reached out to the Secretary of State’s office and his corrected reports were amended and re-posted by July 5.
Whitehead Tuesday evening that he believes that compliance with campaign finance reporting is essential for maintaining the integrity and transparency of our elections.
“It is unfortunate to have been sanctioned by the Secretary of State’s Office, but it is the responsibility of the candidate to insure compliance with campaign finance reporting requirements, according to the current New Mexico State Statutes,” he said.