Jerome Block, new PRC member, pays $21,700 in fines

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By The Staff

SANTA FE — A newly elected member of the Public Regulation Commission paid $21,700 in penalties for lying on a campaign finance report and misusing public funds provided to his campaign.

Jerome Block Jr. paid the secretary of state's office on Thursday, according to documentation provided Friday by the office.

Block had complained the penalties were excessive but didn't pursue the option of appealing and requesting arbitration.

"I am hopeful that this resolves all issues between my campaign and your office," Block said in his letter to Secretary of State Mary Herrera.

Block did not return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The state started investigating Block’s campaign finances after the candidate admitted to the Optic that he lied about holding a rally near Las Vegas. He gave local band Wyld Country $2,500 for a rally performance that never happened.

The Democrat was elected this month to the $90,000-a-year position representing a northern New Mexico district on the utility regulatory panel. He got 56 percent of the vote to defeat Rick Lass of the Green Party.

On a July 3 campaign finance report, Block listed a June 9 payment of $2,500 to the Wyld Country band — whose members include the San Miguel County clerk — for entertaining at a May rally.

The performance never occurred, although Block repeatedly insisted that it had. He eventually admitted he had lied, saying he wanted to avoid further publicity and was unsure how to reflect a refund.

Later, he told the secretary of state he reported the expenditure because he was paying the band for a future performance.

He was fined $5,000 for lying on the report about the payment to the band, and another $5,000 because he used primary election funds to write the check to the band after the primary season had ended.

He also was fined $1,000 because he contributed $700 to Sen. Hillary Clinton to help defray her presidential campaign debt. The secretary of state said that was an improper use of public funds and told him to repay the $700. Herrera also ordered Block to reimburse the state $10,000 of the more than $101,000 in public funding he received for the race.