NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Less than five weeks out from Election Day, the Torrance County Commission is trying to remove the County Clerk. It comes after an independent investigation found some bizarre and inappropriate behavior on the job.

On Monday, the three-person commission voted unanimously to take civil, legal action to remove the county clerk, Yvonne Otero.

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“Some allegations were found not to be substantiated due to the lack of evidence. Others were found to be substantiated, and are rather serious,” said Ryan Schwebach, Chair of the commission.

According to the commission, an independent investigator found those substantiated claims included asking an employee for prescription narcotics, using cocaine in the last six years, making sexual comments at work, and clicking a taser next to the ear of a staffer who had dozed off.

“Also, the investigation by Ambitions, the county IT contractor, revealed the county clerk has made employees give her their individual passwords for their county computers and that she allowed a family member to use at least one of the county computers,” said Schwebach.

The commission said Otero also skipped out on certifying election machines last month while on vacation, while also preventing the deputy clerk from doing so. She had to be present for the certification but said she would put her seal on it when she returned.

The allegations are concerning for the commission. “The employees deserve a safe and professional work environment, free of the kind of conduct the clerk’s engaged in, and the Torrance County voters and citizens deserve a clean and transparent election,” said Schwebach.

“What I have seen in this investigation that we just went over, I think, I have a hard time saying that an election under this existing clerk would be conducted fairly,” he said. The commission is asking the District Attorney or Attorney General to file a petition for her removal.

“Under New Mexico Statutes 10-4-2, which is removal of local officials, and it involves a civil action actually initiated by the District Attorney or possibly the Attorney General, in district court to bring a complete for removal under which if the charges are found to be true and the judge agrees, possibly a jury, there will be a removal of an official,” said Mike Garcia, Torrance County Attorney, in the meeting.

Otero had the chance to speak in the meeting but declined to do so citing legal advice. KRQE reached out to Otero for comment but is still waiting to hear back. Her term is up in 2024.