State Auditor Candidate Evaluations

Grading based on NMD4D's policies and candidate interviews, forums and debates.
THE CANDIDATES

State Auditor Candidate Grading

Brian Colón (D)

Overall Grade: B
(83.4%)

COALITION VIDEO

Wayne Johnson (R)

Overall Grade: A
(92.1%)

COALITION VIDEO

Overall Experience 

NMD4D Criteria

State Auditor's role is to assure the proper use of taxpayer money within state agencies and examine their financial affairs. 

NMD4D grading criteria:

  • Bachelor degree or greater
  • Finance background
  • Experience in performing audits and familiarity with financial documents
  • Experience in supervising budgeting systems for local governments or private companies
  • Knowledge of finance, accounting, and economics
  • Work experience in corporate or public financial administration, management operations, CPA, Certified Government Financial Manager or Auditor 

Brian Colón (D)

Category Grade: C

Brian received his bachelor’s degree in finance from New Mexico State University and his law degree from UNM. Brian has practiced law since 2001, joined the law practice of Robles in 2006. Brian was Chairman of the Democratic Party and had an unsuccessful in runs for Lt. Governor and Mayor of Alburqurque. He touts his experience in finance and law as his expertise for the state auditors position.

Wayne Johnson (R)

Category Grade: B

Wayne received his bachelor's degree from UNM with an emphasis in computer engineering and film/television  and Wayne was President of Vista Media.

Wayne was elected Bernalillo County Commissioner in 2010 and reelected in 2014. In December of 2017 Wayne was appointed by Gov. Martinez as State Auditor. Wayne resigned from the Commission in March 2018. Wayne championed transparency, ethics, and accountability and pushed for meaningful change in county and state government. Johnson’s background as a small business owner and legislative accomplishments on the Bernalillo County Commission are cited as reasons for his appointment.

Recused From Audits 

NMD4D Criteria

Are there any audits you would recuse yourself from because of close friends, business ties, political alliance. 

Has the candidate acted against their party members when warranted?

Brian Colón (D)

Category Grade: B

Brian has stood against wrongdoing his entire career. He gave an example of lawyer Matt Chandler (a Republican) that was appointed to be a Regent on the UNM Board. Democrats were against Chandler, Colon while AG Hector Balderas supported him.

Brian testified and wrote letters for Senate confirmation. The backlash from the Democrats was fierce. Chandler was never confirmed and later withdrew his name. Colon later wrote a letter of apology to Democratic leaders. NMD4D followers have brought up concerns with Colon's close ties to AG Balderas and Gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Wayne Johnson (R)

Category Grade: B

As County commissioner, Johnson brought his concerns regarding the high percentage of long-term investments made by Bernalillo County and other board members, despite attacks from his peers. In 2013 it became clear that the value of the portfolio was at substantial risk because of rising interest rates.

The County Commission created an Investment Committee. The committee was charged with drafting a new investment policy for the county, and directed management to procure an investment advisor to determine a sound exit strategy for the portfolio. He says he has a strong commitment to ethical government.

As a commissioner, he took the lead in creating a new Code of Conduct for Bernalillo County elected officials and employees that replaced the prior expensive and ineffective Code of Ethics. Wayne created a new Compliance Office in the County Attorney’s office to investigate the complaints.

NM High-Risk Insurance Pool Audit

NMD4D Criteria

Previous Auditors have found irregularities with NM's High-Risk Health Insurance Pool and a company owned by two elected officials, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, and State Rep. Deborah Armstrong. An audit was started by Former Auditor Tim Keller (D) and continued by State Auditor Wayne Johnson (R). 

If elected as State Auditor would you continue to investigate state, private financial and tax returns from both agencies per state regulations?

Brian Colón (D)

Category Grade: C

"It will be determined by the courts.", Brian stated. You have a state auditor today asking for an audit that I'm not sure is needed. You have a state agency (and Delta Consulting) saying they aren't subject to the NM audit act. Colon will follow the court’s decision if the high-risk insurance pool and Delta Consulting are subject to a state audit. If courts determine there should be an audit, he will follow the courts' order.

Wayne Johnson (R)

Category Grade: A

Johnson will continue the departments current audit investigations into Delta Consulting and the NMMIP. 

Johnson's office has been working through litigation brought by the NMMIP board to dispute the State Auditor's authority.

Foundations and Non-profits

NMD4D Criteria

How will the candidate handle controversy over audits regarding foundations and non-profit organizations that receive tax dollars or tax-funded entitlements?

Some say non-profits agencies are not government agencies, resulting in the State Auditor having no authority.

What is the candidate's position?

Brian Colón (D)

Category Grade: A

Brian believes if organizations receive funding from the state organizations should be subject to audits from the State Auditor's Office. As a former head of the UNM Alumni Association, he would support this action which is states in his video interview.

Wayne Johnson (R)

Category Grade: A

Wayne believes any non-profit or agency that receives funds or executes any government dollars should be audited; which is states in his video interview.

Government Corruption

NMD4D Criteria

New Mexico has had decades of corruption which has damaged social trust in government and the institutional framework of our state. NMD4D believes it is time for the State Auditor’s office to employ the office's authority to restore trust, integrity, and transparency of state agencies.

What is your plan to stop any corruption you might see and would you push the Attorney General's office to prosecute all corruption?

Brian Colón (D)

Category Grade: B

Waste, corruption, and fraud don’t have a Party Affiliation and neither will my office. I will actively engage the public State Auditor, with my finance degree/background and as an attorney licensed in NM for 17 years, I will continue to build on transparency efforts of my predecessors.

Twelve years ago New Mexico elected its first attorney to serve as State Auditor (Hector Balderas) and the Office of State Auditor was transformed into an office that uncovered corruption in government because of his understanding and use of subpoena power. As an attorney, I will double down on those efforts and carefully submit cases to the AG's office where we will work collaboratively to ensure prosecution to the fullest.

My plan to ensure honesty, enhance the integrity and restores public confidence and crackdown on corruption, fraud, and abuse. Legal and financial improprieties must be communicated directly to the AG’s office with a strong emphasis on a prosecution. The State Auditor’s office must never lose sight that every public dollar it protects comes from somebody’s paycheck and is the result of the sweat and hard work from the taxpayer.

Wayne Johnson (R)

Category Grade: A

It is the statutory (and moral) obligation to refer evidence of fraud or criminal wrongdoing to law enforcement.

It's my policy to refer criminal acts to the most appropriate law enforcement be it the Attorney Generals' office, US Attorney, DPS, local District Attorney or police. I make referrals to agencies to increase the odds of successful prosecution. To root out corruption or environments that lead to corruption, I’m working to identify entities that have previously gone unaudited that were required to do so.

My office has identified a number of these entities already like the RCLC, NMAAA, and Redi-Net. To determine both the conditions and instances of fraud and criminal wrongdoing, I plan to increase the resources in our Special Investigations Division and seek partnerships with law enforcement agencies who are investigating a public entity white collar crime.

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