As a continuation of their investigations into a string of shootings at the residences of Democratic leaders, Albuquerque police are exploring the possibility of illegal activity. This is regarding campaign donations to discredited state House candidate Solomon Pena.
Investigation Turns up New Suspects
According to a press release on Thursday, José Trujillo, another individual whom authorities claim is implicated, and Trujillo’s mother were involved in possible unlawful conduct discovered by Albuquerque detectives.
As per police and state campaign funding filings, Trujillo contributed $5,155 to Pena’s candidacy during the primary and general elections; his mother, Melanie Griego, contributed $4,000 during the general election.
Trujillo is a cashier, according to the reports.
According to the authorities, Pena, a Republican, raised nearly 40% of his total campaign funds from Trujillo and Griego, whose donations shared the same southwest Albuquerque address. Pena ran unsuccessfully for the state House District 14 seat.
According to the police press release, investigators are attempting to ascertain whether the funds were obtained through drug trafficking and if any electoral rules were broken as a result of the contributions.
BREAKING: APD is investigating Pena's campaign contributions. The aunt of his 2nd highest donor (mother of 1 of the men Pena allegedly paid to shoot at Dem lawmakers houses) told me she was shocked to learn she could donate thousands. Story w/ @MReisen88 https://t.co/E6lk82muNK
— Elise Kaplan (@EliseKapNM) January 19, 2023
Despite the fact there are no charges against Trujillo in the suspected shooting conspiracy, Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies detained him early on January 3, following a traffic check. This was shortly after a gunshot at state Senator Linda Lopez’s Albuquerque house.
Police reported that 893 fentanyl tablets, $3,036 in cash, and two firearms were all discovered inside the Nissan Maxima that Trujillo was operating.
Based on a criminal complaint lodged against Pena late on Monday in Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court, investigators discovered the Nissan belonged to Pena and connected one of the firearms to the incident at Lopez’s home.
Other known, unnamed accused collaborators are included in the accusation, but nobody has been charged for the high-profile shootings between December 4 and January 3.
The shootings were allegedly carried out by a man who was unwilling to recognize the outcome of his election, according to the police.
During the 2022 primary election cycle, Pena’s campaign collected a total of $9,493.32 in donations; for the general election, it collected $14,166.51.
The Albuquerque Police Department announced it is investigating 'potential illegal activity' related to the monetary contributions Solomon Pena 'solicited' d…https://t.co/fUBXCurkbg
— Khalil Spencer (@khalil_spencer) January 20, 2023
The Jalapeo Corp., controlled by oilman and former state GOP chairman Harvey Yates, was his largest general election supporter and paid Pena $5,000 on September 28.
Yates has a long history of being a generous political contributor; his corporation contributed more than $150,000 to candidates in disputed primary races in 2022, largely to Republicans, including a few conservative Democrats.
As per campaign finance reports, Pena was Audrey Trujillo’s second-largest contributor and a backer of the Republican candidate for secretary of state. He contributed $4,664 to support her failed campaign.
Pena contributed far less money to four additional Republican candidates.
As per the campaign finance reports, Michael Fletcher was just another significant supporter of Pena, giving him $2,875 during the primaries and $1,850 during the general election. Fletcher is listed in the files as a security officer.
Pena Charged With Planning Shootings
Pena, a convicted felon, is charged with planning shootings at the residences of Lopez, then-Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, newly elected House Speaker Javier Martinez, and Adriann Barboa.
This comes after his attempt to persuade them that his victory over incumbent Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia in November was fraudulent. He lost against Garcia with only 26% of the vote, putting a stop to his bid for the state House.