Daniel Ivey-Soto, New Mexico’s most corrupt senator andhides its supporters and clients
Guest post by the editor of Estancia News
Daniel Ivey-Soto is an attorney, Democratic Senator for District 15 (Northeast Heights of Albuquerque) and owner of Vandelay Solutions, which advises county officials in all 33 New Mexico counties on technical and legal issues. Ivey-Soto made headlines last year when a fellow Democrat removed him from a committee seat amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Scrutiny of Ivey-Soto’s conduct is growing as another complaint was filed against him this week – this time with the state attorney general’s office. In 2019, Ivey-Soto received 501(c)(3) status from the IRS for his organization, Vandelay Solutions. But according to the Attorney General’s Office, Ivey-Soto has not filed a Form 990 for the past two years, which puts him out of compliance with the state. 990 forms need to be submitted each year to the state to provide an overview of the organization’s activities and detailed financial information – for example, anyone who contributed more than $5,000 must be listed. By failing to file a Form 990, Ivey-Soto is effectively hiding who he contracts with and who might donate to his organization.
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When asked for comment, Ivey-Soto denied that he was late in filing paperwork with the state attorney general. A representative from the AG’s office, however, stated that “he is not in compliance.”
But the problems go deeper than a lack of paperwork. 501(C)(3) have the “nonprofit” designation—the same designation given to churches, charities, and educational think tanks. A 501(c)(3) organization is also prohibited from using its activities to significantly influence legislation, including engaging in any campaign activities to support or oppose any political candidate. They are usually not allowed to engage in lobbying. However, a significant portion of Ivey-Soto’s activities clearly fall into these prohibited categories.
For example, Ivey-Soto has maxed out campaign contributions to fellow Democrats throughout the Legislature, who then sponsor bills he writes or chair committees that approve his bills before they go to the New Mexico Senate for a vote.
Ivey-Soto’s highly partisan political shell gradually but systematically changed New Mexico election law to benefit the interests of out-of-state private corporations like Dominion Voting Systems. Another feature of his legislation is the obfuscation of meaningful audit trails that favor the vendor and devolve more power to top-down authorities like the Secretary of State, rather than local election administrators who should be directly accountable to their constituents.
Vandelay Solutions also contracts with a number of county officials in New Mexico where, according to its website, Ivey-Soto “provides adult education services and technical assistance to local government officials in the public service areas of election administration, property records, licensing, conducting public meetings and access to public records.”
However, Ivey-Soto does not limit itself to technical advice. This reporter obtained an email dated October 26, 2021, which was addressed to all 33 New Mexico county clerks. The subject of the email was a citizen-initiated election vulnerability investigation report that was sent to all 33 county clerks, highlighting massive problems with New Mexico’s voter rolls and election data. A second report was produced by national experts revealing at least 17 massive system vulnerabilities and 13 violations of state election law. Ivey-Soto advised all 33 county officials to ignore the report, claiming it contained no factual information.
Also after the 2020 election, Dave Gallus, a Republican candidate in Dona Ana County, filed an ethics complaint against Ivey-Soto with the Legislative Ethics Committee. The Ivey-Soto legislation removed bipartisan oversight and put county clerks on the ballot in charge of managing absentee ballots that would determine the outcome of their own races. At the time of the legislation, Dona Ana County had a contract with Vandelay Solutions. Which means Ivey-Soto’s client, County Clerk Amanda Askin, was a direct beneficiary of the temporary law that removed oversight from the 2020 election. Gallus’ complaint said that wasn’t right. Gallus also questioned the appropriateness of Vandelay’s 501(C)(3) status.
“Ivey-Soto uses Vandelay Solutions to influence political outcomes, which means that his 501(C)(3) designation is not only grossly inappropriate, but if a proper investigation were conducted against him, his actions would be found to be illegal. Failure to file documents revealing his donors during what is objectively the most corrupt election administration in history shows that he is at best incompetent as a lawyer, or at worst, illegally hiding his supporters. A lawyer should know better,” said David Clements, a New Mexico attorney and election integrity advocate.
Vandelay Solutions’ alleged failure to comply with New Mexico tax law could have far-reaching consequences. Vandelay Solutions has current contracts with several New Mexico counties. If Ivey-Soto lied to the IRS about the partisan nature of his activities and is not in compliance with state tax law, those counties may have to answer their residents’ questions about why they are dealing with Ivey-Soto in the first place.
Estancia News has reached out to Ivey-Soto for comment on his apparent conflicts of interest. He denied any wrongdoing and pointed to Sen. Jeff Steinborn, Rep. Nathan Small, Rep. Angelica Rubio and Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena as members of the nonprofits who also serve in the Legislature. All of the legislators he appointed are Democrats from Dona Ana County. Estancia News does not yet know if these members of the Legislature are writing bills that directly affect their paying clients or making maximum donations to colleagues in the Legislature, but we will investigate those issues in the future.
More to come.