I will respond to the unsubstantiated accusations I have seen in media reports made by some former disgruntled employees.
• Porn on the computer – My laptop was running slow, so I had my IT staff diagnose the problem. A malware intrusion was discovered. The IT staff wiped the laptop clean and reinstalled the operating system and software.
From this, a disgruntled employee spread the rumor about porn being discovered on my laptop and allegedly reported this to the FBI. After investigations, we discovered this same employee was the first to have a malware intrusion on his desktop, which could have infected other computers.
• Having employees campaign or prepare for social functions during state time – That is strictly forbidden. I expect each employee to put in a full day’s work before receiving their paycheck funded by taxpayers. Leave must be pre-approved for employees requesting time off for non-work related purposes, and our office records prove this.
• “Pay to play” or “shaking down firms” – My staff looked into having vendors provide refreshments for a county clerk training session, which had been done for decades (less than $500 for drinks and snacks). Legal counsel assured us this practice was not illegal but advised us to seek sponsorships from multiple vendors. Instead, I immediately put a stop to it.
Is this pay to play? It is common practice for government groups such as legislative committees, professional organizations and associations of government officials to have “privately sponsored” dinners and receptions. Most sponsored events cost significantly more than $500. A TV news report about a month ago described a “privately sponsored” meeting of government officials at a cost of $200,000.
• Another allegation was that I requested employees to get 1,000 petition signatures for me to qualify for the ballot in the primary election – It was not required that any of my employees collect petition signatures. If some were collected, I appreciated the assistance. I submitted over 10,000 signatures to qualify for the primary ballot.
Who got the signatures? I collected approximately 7,000 myself. I’m a tireless worker. The rest came from family, good friends and supporters and I am grateful to them for their assistance and continued support.
Credibility of unsubstantiated allegations by disgruntled employees
Do disgruntled employees have the credibility to discredit the reputation of an elected public official, without providing any evidence to their allegations? Should their continued antics and staged incidences be prominently reported by the press? Has anyone noticed the numerous incestuous associations between this group and my opponent’s supporters, working furiously to damage my reputation?
The media has an obligation to establish the credibility of individuals making such allegations, to assure that their allegations are supported by solid evidence, and to provide fair and balanced reporting to the public.
Have reporters established the credibility of these allegations based on solid evidence? If reporters haven’t done their homework to determine the credibility of allegations by disgruntled employees, they have contributed to the unfair character assassination of a dedicated public servant.
Did I fire whistleblowers? No, that’s against state law. I let go two “at-will” employees who were exempt from the classified personnel system. The “at-will” employees I hire are my core management team, expected to be hard-working, loyal, support the goals and initiatives of my administration and set the standards for other employees. They are paid well. Each elected official hires a certain number of at-will employees.
In general, at-will employees can be terminated at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. If an at-will employee is disloyal, not accomplishing assigned tasks, is absent without approved leave, unproductive toward my goals and initiatives, creates a hostile work environment affecting other employees, snoops within agency records to obtain confidential information, or disseminates false and misleading rumors internally or external to the agency to undermine my administration, I would consider terminating them.
Conversely, if an employee dislikes working in my office, they have the freedom to leave.
I am proud of my accomplishments and I am confident that my leadership of the office has been carried out with honesty and integrity to benefit the citizens of New Mexico. It is a great honor and privilege to serve as New Mexico secretary of state, and I ask for your support to bestow this honor on me once again.
Herrera is the secretary of state and a Democrat seeking re-election this year.