A county clerk in New Mexico abused the power of her office and violated the law in the run-up to the 2022 election, a state agency alleged in court this week, alleging the clerk deleted and mishandled mid-term ballots. period; drugs sought, obtained and discussed; and even deployed a Taser near a coworker.

The complaint continues to allege that Yvonne Otero, who was elected as a Republican to County Clerk in Torrance County, NM in 2020, violated election procedures related to certifying voting machines, alluded to having sex and using cocaine during business hours job and threatened employees, before she eventually stopped doing her job in the fall, before the election.

Otero’s attorney, Jacob Candelaria, said the complaint included «outlandish and dramatized» false allegations, arguing that the election deniers were trying to punish his client for not accepting false claims about voter fraud.

«My client has every intention of defending himself against these false accusations,» he said, adding that he is separately seeking an injunction to get his job back.

The extraordinary allegations were made by the New Mexico State Ethics Commission, an independent state agency that enforces government conduct and anti-corruption laws, in a court filing this week.

Torrance County has asked the commission to investigate the matter, said Jessica Randall, deputy general counsel for the commission.

Torrance is a small, rural county east of Albuquerque that has been abuzz with bogus fraud claims. County commissioners faced significant backlash for finally certifying the June primary, and then authorized an independent count of the county’s paper ballots.

The county, whose commissioners first sought to oust Otero last fall, recently hired a new county clerk, after voting to remove her for leaving her post. a january destination says the job pays $69,148 plus benefits.

Tabulators, trust and a TASER

Several of the allegations address Otero’s handling of the 2022 midterm elections.

Otero pre-signed ballot tabulator certification forms before the certifications took place in order to go on vacation, according to the complaint, and deleted or ignored a handful of ballots emailed from abroad. Military and overseas voters may cast their absentee ballot electronically, in accordance with federal law.

Candelaria said the complaint was the first he and his client had heard about expunged ballots, but said she did not deny signing the voter certification forms in advance.

Data flash cards sit on certification forms for ballot counting machines bearing the signature of Torrance County Clerk Yvonne Otero as testing begins at a county warehouse in Estancia, NM, on the 29th September 2022. State and local authorities said Otero signed the certification documents before the equipment was tested and inspected for use in the general election, without ever attending the inspections.File Andrés Leighton / AP

Alex Curtas, communications director for New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, said Toulouse Oliver was «unaware of, but extremely concerned» about allegations that overseas ballots were not handled or counted properly and that it would conduct its own internal review.

He said Deputy County Clerk Sylvia Chavez had worked closely with state officials to oversee the county’s midterm elections and that she «did a great job.»

The rest of the allegations in the complaint range from the misuse of government resources, for example, giving an employee’s computer to his brother, to the bizarre and inappropriate.

Otero was observed “intimately touching” a member of the public at work, according to the complaint, before entering his private office with the individual. He allegedly alluded to having sex in his office after leaving with comments like «this is how you break the probate judge’s desk» and «I needed that stress relief.»

Candelaria said a friend visited her at work and closed the door for privacy, but did not have sex at work.

«Those are perhaps some of the most outlandish and in the opinion of my client are sexist and discriminatory accusations against him,» he said.

One incident both Candelaria and the commission agree on is that Otero discharged a taser near an employee at the county clerk’s office, in what she claimed was a prank.

Candelaria said he did it to scare a sleeping coworker and now admits the prank was in «bad taste.»

Otero allegedly sought «non-prescription narcotics» from a subordinate employee, threatening «mutual destruction» if the employee did not do as requested, and discussed using cocaine.

In one April 2022 case, he told his employees he needed a “little push” to get through the day, the complaint alleges, saying Otero had admitted to using cocaine for the past six years.

Candelaria said Otero asked a colleague to get her a prescription while she was among primary care physicians, but did not threaten the co-worker, saying she had used cocaine outside of work sometime in the past six years. to help with your ADHD. She denied that she had used cocaine at work.

«Have served in the legislature for 10 yearsif the Ethics Commission wanted to punish everyone who used cocaine at any time in the previous six years, a good majority of the legislature would be subject to disciplinary action,” he added.

The complaint also alleged that Otero stopped going to work and logging on to his computer at home. Candelaria said the county attorney had instructed her to work from his home after an employee complained about the TASER incident. That incident is also the reason she signed the voter certification forms before the certification took place.

“There has never been a time where she has abandoned her job duties, period,” he said.

Mario Jimenez, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico and a former election official, applauded the ethics commission for looking into the matter, but said he was nonetheless discouraged to learn of the allegations.

«When I read it, I was furious,» he told NBC News. «We are losing public trust.»