Will tie to indicted woman hurt Chávez?
1st Congressional District candidate Marty Chávez isn’t clarifying the status of his relationship with a woman who’s under indictment; his campaign says he wants to move on to ‘pressing issues facing New Mexican families.’
Marty Chávez’s name has been in the news lately not just because he’s running for the 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House, but also because of his relationship with a woman who’s under indictment in a hospital embezzlement case.
At last weekend’s Democratic Party preprimary nominating convention, the situation was a topic of discussion among at least some delegates. Chávez, Albuquerque’s former mayor, finished second at the convention. The question on the minds of some is whether the indictment of Loretta Mares will hurt Chávez’s campaign. The answer, from some of those NMPolitics.net has talked with, seems to be that it’s not clear.
That may be at least in part because, as NMPolitics.net has already reported, the status of Chávez’s relationship with Mares isn’t clear. The campaign says the two are no longer living together but won’t say whether they are still in a relationship.
Some delegates, who spoke only on background, told NMPolitics.net that’s one reason they’re still talking about the situation – because the question remains unanswered. In addition, there was certainly a whisper campaign at the convention.
Here are the basic facts:
Mares was indicted last month on felony charges stemming from allegations that, in the words of The Santa Fe New Mexican, “she conspired with the hospital’s former chief financial officer, Richard Crabtree, to embezzle ‘at least $2.5 million’ from what is now Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center between 2005 and 2008.”
Mares pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this week. At this point she’s not been convicted of any crime related to the case.
There’s been no evidence presented publicly that might tie Chávez to the alleged crimes. He’s not been accused of doing anything improper related to the case.
Living expenses were ‘shared,’ donation could be returned
NMPolitics.net asked several questions of Alan Packman, Chávez’s campaign manager, in an attempt to clarify things.
Packman said Chávez’s relationship with Mares started in early 2009, which would mean they weren’t in a relationship while she was allegedly involved in embezzlement.
The two started living together in July 2011 and stopped living together in February of this year, according to Packman. He said living expenses were shared, but didn’t elaborate. And, he said, “there will be no further comment about the relationship.”
Packman wouldn’t say who was paying for the home where they both lived.
Mares, under another name she goes by, Bernadette Mares, has donated $5,000 to Chávez’s congressional campaign, according to his finance report. Packman said the campaign will hang on to that money for now.
“Should Ms. Mares be convicted of a crime, her donation will be given to charity,” he told NMPolitics.net.
In addition, Attorney General Gary King, whose office indicted Mares, has donated $1,000 to Chávez’s campaign. Packman said the campaign doesn’t view that as a conflict. After all, King’s office brought the charges against Mares.
Chávez wants to focus on ‘pressing issues’
The Chávez campaign clearly wants to put this issue behind it. Asked if he’s concerned about the possibility of other candidates or political committees accusing Chávez of profiting politically or personally from embezzled money, Packman said this:
“Marty believes that candidates should be focused on all of the pressing issues facing New Mexican families right now – like rebuilding our economy – and not concerning themselves with making negative, personal attacks.”
Chávez has proposed an agreement with the other Democrats in the race, Eric Griego and Michelle Lujan Grisham, aimed at discouraging third-party groups from attempting to influence the race with ads. Both have more PAC endorsements than Chávez, and neither has accepted his challenge.