A Republican candidate for US Senate recently launched a website alleging that his primary election opponent cheated delegates and hacked into his campaign email account.
David Clements (pictured above) says his allegations about Allen Weh stem from documents, pictures and purported eyewitness accounts of the Bernalillo County Republican Party pre-primary convention that occurred earlier this month.
"In order for the party to be unified in defeating [sitting Democratic Sen.] Tom Udall, we are releasing all documents pertaining to the events of February 5th, with an understanding of how those events took place and how people have been pressured to change their stories to benefit the Weh campaign," Clements' website, www.bernalillocoverup.com, reads.
Clements, a former Doña Ana Republican Party chairman who's running a libertarian-minded campaign, and Weh, a former gubernatorial candidate who has more money and more name recognition (pictured below), are in the midst of a heated primary battle. Both are fighting hard for party delegates, who will cast ballots for either Clements or Weh at Saturday's state Republican Party pre-primary convention. Each candidate needs at least 20 percent of the delegate support to get on the ballot for the June Republican Party primary election, when voters select one to face off against Udall in November. More than 50 percent of the delegate vote on Saturday will give one of the candidates top ballot placement in the primary.
Clements contends that many "at large" delegates were improperly elected at the Bernalillo County convention from a list of 30 names compiled by Diego Espinoza, who is Weh's campaign manager. Many of these elected delegates, according to Clements and others, weren't actually present at the county convention.
"Persons who attended in person and self-nominated were supplanted by the list of approximately 30 delegates provided by the Weh campaign," reads a complaint Clements filed with the county party.
In an email to both the state party chairman and the Bernalillo County party chairman, Republican activists Bill and Elaine Henderson, who witnessed the "at large" delegates get elected, called it "irregular, illegal, totally out of line and a disaster."
"We also believe the results of that election are suspect at best and a damned charade at worst," the Hendersons' email reads.
More serious, though, is Clements' allegation that Espinoza hacked into his campaign's email account and used it to forward nearly 600 messages to party delegates. Clements says he became aware of this when delegates reported that they were receiving multiple emails of an open letter he wrote to the Weh campaign about what happened at the county convention.
"The Clements campaign went to their Internet service provider to find out why delegates were receiving multiple copies of the open letter," the website reads. "They were provided with a link that Identified Mr. Espinoza as having willingly forwarded the email in excess of 500 times."
A document attached to the website states that "repeated forwards" from the Clements campaign email account by a "masked user" with the email address firstname.lastname@example.org "likely led to an outlier number of unsubscribes who believed they were receiving additional copies of email by error."
"There is no question that Diego Espinoza acted with ill intent in regards to David’s open letter to Allen Weh," Clements wrote on his website.
SFR requested an interview with Espinoza on Thursday afternoon and will update this post when and if he responds. But in a email responding to Clements' open letter last week, Espinoza dismissed the delegate-cheating allegation as a political stunt.
"What we find very disappointing is your lack of respect for the Republican Party overall," Espinoza wrote to Clements. "We will see you on the 1st of March in Albuquerque."
This isn't the first time Clements has clashed with the state's Republican Party establishment since launching his Senate campaign last fall. In November, he resigned from his role as Doña Ana County Republican Party chair after Weh complained to the state party that the role gave Clements an unfair advantage in the primary. Weh, at the time, had not entered the race yet and Clements was the only declared candidate.