N.M. GOP Says Planned State Audit Political Payback

February 24, 2006

New Mexico’s Department of Labor has ordered what it calls a routine audit of the state GOP, but Republicans suspect politics as the reason for putting them on notice.

A state computer randomly selects 200 to 250 businesses each quarter for audits to determine if they are complying with unemployment insurance laws, said state Labor Secretary Conroy Chino.

But state Republican Party executive director Marta Kramer said she suspects politics from Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration.

“This cannot be a coincidence,” she said of the state audit notice. “It’s hardball. The governor is playing hardball.”

On Sunday, Republicans demanded that the state Labor Department prove the selection was random, GOP spokesman Jonah Cohen said.
“Our lawyers will be asking for records and how the computer went about selecting us,” Cohen said.

Chino said the audits are required by the federal government and can take as little as one afternoon’s time.

The notice, received by the state Republican Party’s Albuquerque headquarters last Friday, outlines an extensive list of documents the Labor Department might be examining, including salary and payroll, tax-return paperwork, checking-account registers and contracts with independent contractors.

Kramer said those documents would provide insight into “who is working in opposition to the Democratic Party and Governor Richardson’s political ambitions.”

Chino said only the auditors would see the confidential records.
The audit is scheduled to begin the week of April 10.

Kramer said current and past Republican Party officials have no record of any previous audits being done on their organization by the state Labor Department.

Chino said the state GOP simply won a lottery of sorts.

“They’re reading way too much into something that’s routine,” he said.

Topics Politics

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