Protecting New Mexico Families
On Tuesday, November 4th, 2014, Hector Balderas was elected the 31st Attorney General for the State of New Mexico.
Hector Balderas was raised by a single mother in the small village of Wagon Mound, New Mexico. Growing up in public housing and on food stamps, he learned the importance of compassion and respect, and gained the conviction that everyone – no matter their background – deserves the same opportunities to succeed. Through hard work and by overcoming tough challenges, Hector earned degrees from New Mexico Highlands University and the University of New Mexico Law School. He became the first person from Wagon Mound to graduate from law school and become an attorney.
After law school, Hector turned down opportunities to work in the private sector and instead chose to pursue his passion for public service. He became a Bernalillo County Assistant District Attorney and quickly earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for fairness and justice.
In December 2003, Hector returned to Wagon Mound with his wife and three young children to give back to his rural community. At age 29, with no prior political experience, Hector ran for a seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives. He defeated the heavily favored incumbent in the Democratic primary by a two-to-one margin and ultimately prevailed over his Republican opponent in the general election. During his tenure as State Representative, Hector brought Democrats and Republicans together to pass sweeping legislation to strengthen penalties for sexual predators; establish incentives for clean energy; invest in rural public schools; enact reforms to the criminal justice system; crack down on drunk drivers; and protect consumers from price gouging in times of emergency or disaster. Hector’s bipartisan approach and legislative accomplishments led to recognition of his work by a diverse set of groups, ranging from the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce to the League of Conservation Voters. The New Mexico State Bar Association also acknowledged Hector for his achievements by naming him Outstanding Young Lawyer of New Mexico for 2006.
While serving as State Representative, Hector became frustrated by the lack of accountability for local and state officials who wasted and abused taxpayer dollars without consequence. Pledging to New Mexicans to bring transparency to government’s financial affairs, Hector was elected New Mexico’s State Auditor in November 2006. At the time of his election, he became America’s youngest Hispanic statewide elected official.
As New Mexico’s State Auditor, Hector inherited an underfunded office with audit oversight of $60 billion in assets collectively held by over 1000 government entities. He immediately pursued an aggressive agenda designed to protect taxpayer funds and hold government agencies accountable. Hector created a Special Investigations Division in his office that brings together investigators, accountants and attorneys to target complex fraud cases. He also launched a toll free, statewide hotline that any citizen can use to report suspected fraud, waste or abuse of public resources.
During his time in office, Hector’s aggressive efforts to target corruption have yielded historic results. His special audits and investigations exposed rampant financial mismanagement of taxpayer funds at New Mexico’s regional housing authorities; revealed questionable public land deals given to private contractors by a former state land commissioner; identified the misuse of state vehicles at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission; found overbilling by private contractors at the New Mexico Corrections Department; and uncovered evidence related to the New Mexico Finance Authority’s issuance of a fraudulent audit report for 2011. His special audit of the City of Sunland Park, which found widespread violations of law by certain city officials and employees, resulted in the first state government takeover of the management of a city. In addition, Hector’s auditors uncovered the largest public school embezzlement in state history: a $3.3 million embezzlement scheme at the Jemez Mountain School District. Hector also led efforts to reform state laws to impose penalties on governments that fail to submit audits and to bring financial relief to rural governments struggling to pay high audit costs.
Hector’s record of strengthening accountability in state and local government agencies has been lauded by independent groups and by New Mexico’s voters, who re-elected him in 2010 with overwhelming support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Also in 2010, Hector was awarded the New Frontier Award by the Harvard Institute of Politics and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. The annual award is given to Americans whose contributions in elective office or community service demonstrate the impact and value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.
Hector lives in Albuquerque with his wife Denise and their three children, Hector Reyes Jr., Mariola, and Arianna. He is licensed to practice law in New Mexico and is a Certified Fraud Examiner. In addition he donates his time working with at risk children and the special needs community.