First on CNN: New Mexico AG probing marketing campaign funds of GOP candidate accused of orchestrating shootings


New Mexico Legal professional Basic Raúl Torrez’ workplace is taking the lead in probing the marketing campaign funds of Solomon Peña, who police say was behind a spate of shootings at Democratic officers’ properties.

The transfer comes after Albuquerque police mentioned they had been investigating whether or not Peña’s marketing campaign was funded partially by money from narcotics gross sales that had been laundered into marketing campaign contributions.

“We’ve formally opened an investigation into the marketing campaign funds,” Lauren Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the lawyer common’s workplace, advised CNN.

Peña, a Republican and vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump who misplaced a state Home race in 2022, is accused of hiring and conspiring with 4 males to shoot on the properties of two state legislators and two county commissioners.

He was arrested Monday and is because of seem in district court docket on January 23 for a listening to that can decide whether or not he’s detained or launched with circumstances.

The Albuquerque Police Division mentioned in a press release that investigators consider Peña “recognized people to funnel contributions from an unknown supply to his legislative marketing campaign.”

“Detectives are working with different regulation enforcement businesses to find out whether or not the cash for the marketing campaign contributions was generated from narcotics trafficking, and whether or not marketing campaign legal guidelines had been violated,” the division mentioned within the assertion.

Marketing campaign finance data present the one largest contributor to Peña’s marketing campaign was José Trujillo, a person who police say Peña recruited to be a part of the group of shooters.

Police say Trujillo, who donated $5,155 to Peña’s failed marketing campaign and listed his occupation as “cashier,” was arrested on January 3 – the night time of the final of 4 shootings – on an impressive felony warrant.

A Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy discovered Trujillo with greater than $3,000 in money, practically 900 narcotics drugs price roughly $15,000 and two weapons, one in every of which was ballistically matched to that day’s capturing, police mentioned. He was stopped driving Peña’s automobile, mentioned a regulation enforcement official who spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of the investigation is ongoing.

Albuquerque investigators are centered on Trujillo’s massive marketing campaign contributions and whether or not they might need come from drug cash, as a result of investigators say Trujillo has no identified reliable supply of earnings and was arrested with medication and cash, the regulation enforcement official mentioned. In an assault case by which Trujillo was the sufferer final fall, police data say Trujillo advised police he was between properties on the time.

“You have got a suspected gunman who claims to be homeless with $3,000 {dollars} in money and a bag of medicine making huge donations to a marketing campaign. You must ask your self the place that cash is coming from,” mentioned the regulation enforcement official who spoke on the situation of anonymity.

Trujillo’s mom, Melanie Griego, donated $4,000, in line with marketing campaign finance data. However Griego staunchly denied making any marketing campaign contributions in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, telling the newspaper she lives on a “month-to-month earnings” and doesn’t have 1000’s of {dollars} to put money into a political marketing campaign.

CNN reached out to Peña’s and Trujillo’s lawyer however didn’t instantly obtain a response.

A prison grievance within the court docket case towards Peña says that Trujillo, his father Demetrio and his two brothers conspired with the failed Republican candidate to shoot up the properties of 4 politicians. The 4 haven’t been charged, however further fees are anticipated within the case.

A regulation enforcement supply mentioned Peña met members of the capturing group he allegedly recruited when he was in jail serving time for his function in a smash-and-grab group that specialised in stealing automobiles and driving them by means of the home windows of massive field shops to steal high-end electronics.

Peña needed to acquire state court docket approval to run for workplace as a convicted felon. The state court docket concluded that below present New Mexico regulation, Peña was eligible to run as a result of he had served his sentence and accomplished his parole.

Gunshots had been fired into the properties of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa on December 4; incoming state Home Speaker Javier Martinez on December 8; then-Bernalillo Commissioner Debbie O’Malley on December 11; and state Sen. Linda Lopez on January 3, in line with police.

Peña misplaced his race to Democratic state Rep. Miguel Garcia 26% to 74%. Per week later, he tweeted he “by no means conceded” the race and was researching his choices.

Barboa mentioned, after November’s election however earlier than the shootings, that Peña – who had embraced Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud on social media – had approached some officers at their properties with paperwork he claimed was proof of election fraud.

“He got here to my home after the election. … He was saying that the elections had been pretend … actually talking erratically. I didn’t really feel threatened on the time, however I did really feel like he was erratic,” Barboa advised “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.

CNN has reached out to Peña’s marketing campaign web site for remark. On Wednesday, his lawyer, Roberta Yurcic, mentioned in an electronic mail that the allegations towards him are “merely accusations.”

“Mr. Peña is presumed harmless of the costs towards him,” Yurcic mentioned. “Mr. Peña and I stay up for a full and honest investigation of those claims. I plan to totally defend Mr. Peña and fiercely safeguard his rights all through this course of.”

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