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The Latest: Departing New Mexico auditor defends efforts

December 26, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a clash in New Mexico between the departing Republican state auditor and leading Democrats (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

Departing Republican New Mexico State Auditor Wayne Johnson says his elected successor is interfering with an inquiry into whether the state attorney general’s office followed proper bidding procedures for a public contract awarded to a private law firm.

Johnson on Wednesday said his office has unsuccessfully requested documentation about a state contract awarded to the Albuquerque-based law firm Robles, Rael and Anaya where Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas and Auditor-elect Brian Colon have worked. Colon succeeds Johnson on Jan. 1.

Johnson says concerns about the contracting process were raised by an anonymous caller to a hotline for reporting government fraud, waste or abuse and that it is impossible to tell if state procurement rules were followed. Johnson said Colon is attempting to change the subject by threatening an investigation into his conduct in office.

Attorney General’s Office spokesman Matt Baca says his agency is investigating complaints against Johnson originally filed with state campaign finance regulators.

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12 p.m.

A Democrat elected as New Mexico state auditor is threatening to investigate the departing Republican state auditor once the transfer of power takes place Jan. 1.

Auditor-elect Brian Colon announced Wednesday in a news release that he will launch an investigation and internal review of conduct by departing State Auditor Wayne Johnson.

Colon is accusing Johnson of using his authority improperly for political gain and urged Johnson to relinquish his duties immediately. A representative for Johnson said a response was being prepared.

The office of New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is investigating several complaints against Johnson related to his role as auditor. Johnson in turn has sought to probe records at the attorney general’s office concerning the agency’s contracting process.

Colon won election in November against Johnson.

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