Lujan and Wiviott offer delegates food and motel rooms
Dave Cargo says AG won’t investigate vote-buying charges because he doesn’t want to hurt Dems
By Dennis Domrzalski
Former New Mexico Gov. Dave Cargo says he now knows why the state Attorney General’s Office seems to be dragging its feet in investigating allegations of vote buying at the February Bernalillo County Republic Party’s pre-primary nominating convention.
The financial disparity between the top two candidates for Udall's seat and the rest of the field was made evident at the convention. Lujan has received broad support with the help of his powerful father, state Speaker of the House Ben Lujan (D-Nambé).
Lujan's staff swarmed the Santa Ana Star Center with ear pieces and walkie-talkies and handed out food coupons for pizza and hotdogs to delegates who voted for him.
Wiviott's staff and volunteers also took measures to ensure Wiviott's delegates were well looked after.
San Juan County delegate Ivan William Pfeifer had arrived the day before the event and stayed the night at a Holiday Inn Express in Bernalillo, care of Wiviott's campaign.
"We were very much surprised it was even offered," said Pfeifer, who donned a blue Wiviott shirt at the convention.
Caroline Buerkle, Wiviott's campaign spokeswoman, said the campaign provided rooms for about 20 delegates. Two-hundred delegates voted for Wiviott, who has used his own money to build a war chest worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"The overwhelming majority of delegates got here completely on their own," Buerkle said.
Nothing in campaign finance law explicitly prohibits candidates from providing lodging for delegates, and the Secretary of State’s Office deferred any questions on the matter to the Attorney General’s office.
“We have a similar situation regarding the paying of registration fees at the (Republican Convention),” Secretary of State spokesman James Flores said. Buerkle said the campaign was not worried about any perception the rooms brought.
"What do you do for the delegate who can't afford to come?" Buerkle said. Pfeifer said he had not been swayed by the free lodging.
1-7-1. Political parties; condition for use of the ballot. (1969)