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GOP candidate accused of planning shootings investigated for finance violations: Report

A suspect is taken into custody by Albuquerque police officers, Monday Jan.16, 2023, in SW Albuquerque. Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal

GOP candidate accused of planning shootings investigated for finance violations: Report

Cami Mondeaux

January 21, 12:10 PM January 21, 12:11 PM

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The New Mexico Republican candidate accused of orchestrating shootings at Democratic lawmakers’ homes after his loss in the midterm elections is now under investigation for possible campaign finance violations, according to reports.

Albuquerque police are investigating whether Solomon Pena, who unsuccessfully ran for a House seat in New Mexico in 2022, accepted campaign donations that were funded in part by narcotics sales, according to CNN.

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“Detectives are working with other law enforcement agencies to determine whether the money for the campaign contributions was generated from narcotics trafficking, and whether campaign laws were violated,” the department told the outlet in a statement.

Campaign finance records show that Pena’s largest single contributor was a man named Jose Trujillo, who donated $5,155 to the GOP candidate’s campaign in 2022, according to CNN. Trujillo was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant on Jan. 3 after being stopped driving Pena’s car, police told the outlet.

Upon his arrest, a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy discovered Trujillo had more than $3,000 in cash, nearly 900 narcotics pills worth $15,000, and two guns in his possession. Police later matched one of those guns to the ballistics gathered at a shooting that occurred at a Democratic official’s home earlier that day.

The large sum of cash raised concerns among police officers, prompting questions about how Trujillo could have funneled so much money into Pena’s campaign when he had no legitimate source of income, law enforcement officers told the outlet.

“You have a suspected gunman who claims to be homeless with $3,000 dollars in cash and a bag of drugs making big donations to a campaign. You have to ask yourself where that money is coming from,” the official told CNN.

A criminal complaint states that Trujillo participated in Pena’s orchestration of shootings at several Democrats’ homes earlier this month, along with Trujillo’s father and two brothers.

The latest revelation comes after a slew of shootings occurred at four Democratic officials’ homes in New Mexico in December and January. Gunshots flew into the homes of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa on Dec. 4, state House Speaker Javier Martinez on Dec. 8, then-Bernalillo Commissioner Debbie O’Malley on Dec. 11, and state Sen. Linda Lopez on Jan. 3, according to police records.

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Authorities are investigating whether Pena was motivated to carry out the shootings after losing his elections challenge to incumbent state Rep. Miguel Garcia, noting the GOP candidate had repeatedly blamed election fraud for his defeat.

Pena was arrested on Monday in connection to the shootings, and he is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. The hearing is expected to determine whether Pena will be held without bond or can be released with some conditions.

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