While we’re usually glad to defer to the wisdom of the voters, in the case of Jerome Block Jr. we must say that he never should have been elected in the first place. Northern New Mexico did a disservice to itself by choosing him to represent District 3 on the Public Regulation Commission.
Just before Block was elected to the post, informed Las Vegas-area voters already knew that he was willing to lie to win the position his father had previously held. In September 2008, after considerable pressure, he confessed to the Optic that he was “not forthcoming” about a May 2008 campaign rally near Las Vegas in which he paid a local, politically connected band $2,500 for a performance that never happened. Even before he was elected he was having to deal with official inquiries about his use of campaign finances, but Democratic tunnel vision gave him a victory at the polls anyway.
Not long after his election, Block was fined $21,000 by the secretary of state’s office for lying on a campaign finance report and misusing public funds. And now, after considerable judicial wrangling, he’s facing criminal charges for the alleged falsification of campaign records, which, in a worst-case scenario for the young Block and his father (Jerome Block Sr. is implicated in the case because he reportedly prepared the finance report for his son) could actually result in jail time.
Moreover, it’s only getting worse for the Blocks. After a review of records by KOB-TV, which found more than 50 questionable charges on the younger Block’s state gas account. Plus, he’s being investigated for “borrowing” a dealership’s car that had been reported stolen.
So now he has law enforcement, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the governor and the state auditor bearing down on him — and his beloved party is abandoning him. Last Friday, Democratic Party chairman Javier Gonzales called for Block’s resignation. “The continued distraction created by your conduct is a black eye to all Democratic officeholders and a disservice to your constituents,” Gonzales said Friday.
We’ll echo the need for Block to step down. The five-member Public Regulation Commission has the important job of regulating utilities, telecommunications, insurance and more, and Block is no longer in the position to contribute effectively. In the weeks and months ahead he’ll have his hands full just trying to stay out of jail.
Of course, he must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, but no matter how this turns out down the road, he should resign now. The PRC and his constituents need him to. It’s the necessary thing to do.