SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe City Council candidate has been caught in a lie. KRQE News 13 has uncovered Rebecca Romero hid her criminal history, then lied about it before finally confessing her campaign is built on deception. Of course, she won’t be able to hold public office as a convicted felon.
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The state employee was hoping no one would know she had a felony record under another name. When Romero and KRQE News 13 first talked on Tuesday, she doubled down on the deceit.
“My past is my past. I was young,” Rebecca Romero explained.
It’s been a rocky road for the District 4 city council candidate but voters didn’t know about it. News 13 dug up her lengthy criminal history after finding her maiden name Ridgeway.
News 13 matched the birthdates; her campaign address to a probation violation in 2013; and her mugshot from her arrest to her new campaign photo, revealing the identifiable tattoo on her ring finger.
“People make mistakes all the time and you see people changing their life all around,” Romero stated.
Online court records show multiple convictions a decade and a half ago for everything from stealing vacuums from a business and planning to sell them, to stealing people’s credit cards and forging checks.
Romero still blames other people for her convictions. “The owner that was selling wanted to meet a quota for his boss or the owner, and put my name on contracts and they were fraudulent contracts,” Romero said.
She was given suspended sentences and probation for her crimes. “The probation violation is because I got married,” she explained.
It’s a lengthy criminal history she flat-out denied when News 13 called her about it Tuesday morning. Then, 20 minutes later, she called back to come clean and claimed she’s changed over the years.
“I knew I was going to have to speak about it at one point, and I just didn’t know. You know, me being a new person, new face to District 4, how some of my constituents or community members would react to me,” Romero said. “So I wanted people to get to know me first before they automatically assumed I was a horrible person.”
However, there could be even more trouble for Romero. State statute bars anyone with a felony background from holding office unless they get a pardon from the governor. She’s hoping she gets one.
“I finished probation, I finished what I needed to do and I’m a law-abiding citizen right now,” Romero stated.
So, would somebody have caught Romero’s criminal history? The Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office said it doesn’t do criminal background checks.
The following is the statement from the clerk’s office:
“We can only look at the declaration of candidacy form and the voter registration of the candidate at the time of the [Secretary of State] proclamation for that election. No other documentation can be accepted or considered [unless] that particular race requires nominating petition signatures which in this case, were in proper order. Because we [shall] place the candidate on the ballot, since her paperwork and petitions were in order, we placed her on the ballot.”
Romero said she has worked for the state for six years. News 13 reached out to officials to ask if they knew about her criminal history under her maiden name when she was hired. State officials say they’re looking into it.