We now know that the main focus of the State Auditor's Office investigation of the state Tax & Revenue Department is Secretary Demesia Padilla. (See latest story HERE.)
A letter from Auditor Tim Keller to Gov. Susana Martinez said there is evidence that Padilla, a certified public accountant "improperly influenced, or attempted to influence, the [Taxation and Revenue Department] tax audit of a former client.”
We don't know who the mystery "client" is -- man, woman or company -- who allegedly benefited from special treatment.
So if you know something, please let us know.
In another development, the state Democratic Party chairwoman, Deb Haaland, has called for Padilla's resignation.
"As the agent responsible for securing revenue for the State of New Mexico, it is especially appalling and concerning that this office has sought loopholes to benefit themselves and former employers,” Haaland said in a news release. “We must demand the highest standards of our public officials, and unfortunately for New Mexicans, Secretary Padilla has fallen short by using her office for personal gain. The responsible way to move forward is for her to submit her resignation to Gov. Martinez so that the Tax and Revenue Department can begin to earn back the people’s trust.”
Haaland also defended the character of Keller, who was attacked yesterday by the Governor's Office and a spokesman for Padilla.
As reported previously, the investigation was instigated by the State Auditor's Office, prompted by an anonymous tip to the office's fraud line. Keller hired an outside forensic auditing firm to look into. Apparently the firm found some kind of fire in the smoke -- including recordings of certain meetings of Tax & Rev officials -- so Keller handed off the investigation to the state Attorney General's Office on Thursday. He also notified the Governor's Office, which is responsible for the tax department.