On Monday, the Republican Party of New Mexico announced that U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer found apparent violations of the Hatch Act by former U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), who now serves as Joe Biden’s Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The news came amid claims Torres Small fundraised for her husband, state Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), and other Democrats — a violation of the Hatch Act, which bans administration officials from engaging in partisan politics.
The release reads, “Comer says it appears Small may have broken the law by getting involved in political races. In particular, it’s believed Small may have used her influence to raise funds for [her] husband Nathan Small in the District 36 race. As Under Secretary, she cannot do this.”
“This could be a gross violation of federal law, a violation of public trust, and it’s crucial that Small be investigated. It would be inappropriate if she knowingly broke federal law and raised money for her spouse and other Democrats. If true, what Small is doing is not only wrong but exhibits blatant nepotism in a New Mexico election, and it’s shameful that Small would try to influence her husband’s race in this way.”
In a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Comer wrote, “Information obtained by Committee Republicans indicates she may be using her official position as Under Secretary to raise money for her husband’s reelection campaign this fall. If true, this raises questions about whether Under Secretary Small is using her government position to benefit her spouse’s political campaign and Democratic candidates for office.”
He then asked the OSC to open an investigation into Small, adding, “We request OSC begin an investigation to determine whether Under Secretary Small violated the Hatch Act by continuing to raise money for Shield PAC and possibly advocating for her spouse’s reelection campaign in her official capacity as an official at USDA. The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the principal oversight committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate ‘any matter’ at ‘any time’ under House Rule X.”
New Mexico House GOP Leader Jim Townsend of Artesia called for state Rep. Small to return the improper contributions that violated the Hatch Act, writing, “Voter trust is so fragile at this moment, and I am hopeful that Rep. Small will expeditiously come clean to the public about his involvement in this potential illegal scheme.”