ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto is in hot water again: a wide-ranging ethics complaint attacks the Albuquerque Democrat for playing both sides of the legislature as a lawmaker and a lobbyist. KRQE News 13 spoke with the attorney who filed the complaint and the senator.
The complaint accuses Ivey-Soto of violating the state’s Financial Disclosure Act, the Lobbyist Regulation Act, and the Governmental Conduct Act. However, Ivey-Soto tells News 13, it’s all political.
“When I read the complaint, I realized right away that they were going to choose to make this public because substantively there’s really not much there,” Ivey-Soto says. The ethics complaint claims the Albuquerque Democrat has been breaking ethics rules for years. The ethics complaint claims Ivey-Soto has positioned himself as a ‘sole-source vendor’ to county clerks across the state—getting paid in excess of $200,000 for technical, legal, and lobbying services—while also serving as a state senator for a decade. The ethics complaint accuses Ivey-Soto of concealing financial interests in working with county clerks.
Another claim accuses Ivey-Soto of failing to disclose conflicts of interest; even sponsoring legislation to increase his own wealth. Ivey-Soto denies ever earning money as a lobbyist while in office.
“Ever since being elected, I have worked very hard to avoid matters of conflict of interest, and I will continue to avoid matters of conflict of interest,” Ivey-Soto says.
The senator has been a central figure in New Mexico’s recent election law reform effort. When we asked whether there was any substance to the accusations in his mind, Ivey-Soto responded: “No, there isn’t.
Amid the allegations, the complaint also raises the senator’s involvement in sexual harassment complaints from women he’s worked with in the legislature. Ivey-Soto calls the new ethics complaint a political attack ahead of the 2024 election cycle. “To use this in order to try to weaken people’s confidence in the work that I do,” Ivey-Soto says.
The ethics commission is called on in the complaint to review Ivey-Soto’s actions for possible criminal investigation. “I’m fine, because I know I didn’t break any of the laws or the rules,” Ivey-Soto says.
The attorney who filed the complaint, Daniel Yohalem, told News 13, the complaint speaks for itself:
The many concerns about Senator Ivey-Soto set forth in the ethics complaint I filed with the NM Ethics Commission speak for themselves. I filed this complaint in my own capacity to address Senator Ivey-Soto’s violation of the Government Conduct Act, the Financial Disclosure Act and the Lobbyist Registration Act. I want to ensure that our state legislature and other public officials operate in an ethical and transparent manner and in the interest of the people of New Mexico. I have worked for 30 years on these issues. I have litigated many transparency cases to ensure that the public knows what our officials are doing. I serve on the boards of the NM Foundation for Open Government, NM Ethics Watch and Searchlight NM. I am deeply concerned that some public officials, like Senator Ivey-Soto, put their own financial and business interests above those of the public and try to hide this by failing to disclose their conflicts. My 20 page complaint documents Senator Ivey-Soto’s long history of violations of state law and the complaint is supported by over 100 pages of exhibits documenting his actions. I hope the NM Ethics Commission now does its job and issues substantial and appropriate sanctions.Daniel Yohalem, Attorney At Law
It’s unclear exactly what happens next for this ethics complaint. So far, the filing hasn’t shown up on the state’s public online Ethics Commission Portal.