Watchdog groups this week filed formal complaints with state offices against Attorney General Hector Balderas, alleging he has inappropriately given legal work to a friend.
New Energy Economy of Santa Fe and four other groups say Balderas has turned much state work over the past few years to New Mexico attorney Marcus Rael.
The groups allege Balderas practiced “questionable awarding of contracts” to Rael and approved improper invoices. The watchdog groups include Indivisible Nob Hill, Renewable Taos, Retake Our Democracy and Democracy Rising.
They filed their complaints with the State Auditor’s Office, the Ethics Commission and the Disciplinary Board of the New Mexico Supreme Court.
New Energy Economy Executive Director Mariel Nanasi said she became interested in the matter when Rael was hired at $400 an hour by Iberdrola, one of the companies that hopes to merge with Public Service Company of New Mexico.
Balderas then gave his support to the proposed merger, she said, after his own expert witnesses criticized it.
The Attorney General’s Office reacted angrily Friday, calling the accusations “baseless” and “a new low” for New Energy Economy.
The emailed statement said Nanasi used “half truths and purposeful omissions to mislead the press and regulators.”
The attorney general has a record of prosecuting corruption, the statement said, and “we utilize the highest standards in procuring legal resources to recover millions of dollars” for New Mexico.