Erin Clements, whose husband David Clements is running for the GOP nomination for US Senate, is alleging Allen Weh violated multiple Federal Election Commission rules in his campaign for the same seat.
Erin Clements filed a complaint earlier this month alleging that Weh violated four of the federal agency's election guidelines. The most egregious, she says, is her accusation that Weh improperly used corporate resources from CSI Aviation, a military contracting firm where he serves as CEO, to help his campaign.
In the complaint, she refers to a defamation lawsuit filed against David Clements by Weh's campaign manager, Diego Espinoza (for more on that lawsuit, click here). The lawsuit states that Espinoza, who works as a site supervisor at Weh's firm, "was recently granted a leave of absence from his full-time employment at CSI Aviation" to manage Weh's campaign. But it also says Espinoza "continues to be a part-time paid employee" at CSI.
The FEC complaint calls this "an appearance of gross impropriety," where unreported corporate money is being used to pay Espinoza's part-time salary to run Weh's campaign.
"He states in his own words that he's been relieved from his duties at CSI but is still collecting his paycheck," she tells SFR. "That's a blatant violation of federal law."
Espinoza dismisses the complaint as "exactly the kind of tactic used by people who have nothing left to lose."
"Such desperation is unfortunate and unbecoming of someone seeking to become a U.S. Senator," Espinoza writes in a statement provided to SFR.
But he adds that the FEC has contacted the Weh campaign "about a couple of issues" that are now being handled by their attorneys. Espinoza says the Weh campaign is "confident" that they haven't violated any election rules.
The complaint also mentions that Weh met with David Clements at his CSI office last October—two months before Weh officially announced his candidacy for US Senate—and stated that he had already spent $26,000 on a poll. It notes that Espinoza was present at that meeting "very likely handling campaign business."
The complaint cites incidents, including an October Republican Party fundraiser where Weh allegedly introduced himself as a US Senate candidate, to charge that Weh broke a "testing the waters" FEC exemption and failed to file an end-of-the-year campaign finance report.
The complaint also takes Weh to task for not disclosing who $81,300 of the payroll cited in his campaign finance report is paid to and for accepting $15,000 from one donor, which the complaint says breaks the $2,600 limit.
The FEC complaint is the latest in a series of bad blood between the two US Senate GOP primary candidates. In March, Clements accused Espinoza of hacking his campaign emails. The allegations have led to a defamation suit from Espinoza against Clements and an investigation by the Doña Ana Sheriff's Office.
Weh, who in his press releases has been referring to himself as the "presumptive nominee" to take on Democratic Sen. Tom Udall this fall, narrowly edged out Clements in delegate support during the March GOP preprimary convention.
Weh has much more money, raising roughly $400,000 compared to Clements' $40,000, according to the latest FEC reports. But a March poll by Public Policy Polling found them each garnering 33 percent of the vote in hypothetical match-ups against the heavily favored Udall. Though the poll didn't look at specifically at the Weh-Clements race, Clements' campaign referred to the numbers as evidence of a "dead heat" between him and Weh.
View the complaint below:
Santa Fe Reporter