By Ryan Lowery
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti received a cash donation from a woman who was part of an attempt to falsely allocate the state’s electoral votes to Donald Trump, a recently filed finance report shows.
The campaign received a similar donation earlier this summer, and so far, campaign officials have refused to respond to questions about either donation.
Rosalind Tripp, Lupe L. Garcia and three other New Mexicans signed a phony document that was submitted to the National Archives in December 2020 as part of an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election. Campaign finance reports show that Tripp donated $1,000 to Ronchetti’s campaign on Aug. 19. Garcia donated $2,000 to the campaign at the end of June.
The Ronchetti campaign also received a $2,500 donation on Aug. 19 from Tripp’s husband, Donald Tripp Jr. The Tripps also donated to the campaign of Harry Montoya through a trust. Montoya is a Republican running for state treasurer.
The trust donated an investment valued at $1,000 on Aug. 15. Garcia, meanwhile, donated $700 to Montoya’s campaign on July 6.
While the amounts may seem low compared with what’s being spent on campaigns this election cycle, in the first Source NM story about a fake elector donating to Ronchetti’s campaign, a government transparency advocate pointed out that without commenting on these donations, voters don’t know where he stands on the efforts of the fake electors.
“The hallmark of running anything ethical, whether its government or a good campaign, is transparency and honesty,” said Kathleen Sabo, executive director of the nonpartisan New Mexico Ethics Watch. “We always encourage public servants to adopt the highest standard of ethics in order to increase the public’s trust.”
The phony paperwork submitted by Tripp and Garcia was part of an effort by Republicans in seven states where Trump lost to President Joe Biden. The goal of the scheme was to replace those state’s official slates of electors with alternate slates that would then allocate votes to Trump instead of Biden.
Electors in each state were required to sign documents certifying their state’s election results by Dec. 14. When that date arrived, there was still no evidence disputing the 2020 election results.
In New Mexico, Biden won the state by 10 percentage points.
The congressional select committee on Jan. 6 subpoenaed at least 14 of the counterfeit electors as part of the investigation into attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election results. The committee also agreed to share 20 transcripts regarding the false electors scheme with the Department of Justice.
Neither Tripp nor Garcia are among those subpoenaed, but two signers of the fake New Mexico document were subpoenaed: Jewll Powdrell and Deborah W. Maestas. Powdrell is listed as the chairperson for the slate of alternative electors, and Maestas is listed as the secretary.
The U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee last week passed legislation that seeks to clarify how electoral votes are certified. The bill seeks to prevent future attempts to overturn presidential election results by updating an 1887 elections law that was cited by Trump as he attempted to subvert the results of the 2020 election.
The bill made it out of committee on a nearly unanimous vote, 14-1. The sole vote
against it was cast by Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican.
Source New Mexico attempted to reach Montoya via email. He did not respond.
Multiple requests for comment were submitted by Source New Mexico to the Ronchetti campaign in August about the donation from Garcia. Campaign officials did not respond.
Ryan Sabel, a Ronchetti campaign spokesman, was reached by phone Monday, Sept. 26, but he refused to answer questions about either donation and instead requested that any questions be sent via email. Those questions were sent to Sabel Monday afternoon, but he did not respond. He also ignored subsequent requests for comment.
Rosalind Tripp could not be reached for comment.
We’ll update this story if we hear back.