A recording obtained by the American Ledger revealed Yvette Herrell, the Republican nominee for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, telling a small group of GOP supporters that she always viewed her current seat in the state House of Representatives as a stepping stone to Congress.

Yvette Herrell

Herrell also trumpeted her ties to a controversial big money group in Washington, telling the activists that she had cultivated a strong relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington as she plotted a move to the nation’s capital.

A four-term state representative, Herrell has taken a series of taxpayer-funded trips to Washington for these meetings of influential national conservatives. She also failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in state contracts her company received.

The new recording of Herrell addressing the Federated Republican Women of Grant County in March shows she had been strengthening ties to Washington’s conservative establishment in preparation for this run to succeed Rep. Steve Pearce, the party’s nominee for governor.

At the gathering, Herrell said she “wanted to run for this seat at some point in time” and had always “wanted to be in a position to transition into a federal seat” in Washington.

She also said she had “great relationships” in the nation’s capital from serving on the national board of ALEC, a conservative organization that develops pro-business legislation for state lawmakers. According to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, New Mexico taxpayers spent more than $6,600 for her to travel to ALEC meetings.

ALEC has been heavily funded by the billionaire conservative Koch family while it pushes for lawmakers to cut funding for public education and oppose the expansion of Medicaid.

The National Republican Congressional Committee named Herrell to its list of “Young Guns,” the candidates with a “clear path to victory” who are running for the “most competitive congressional seats in the 2018 election cycle.”

In April, the Associated Press reported Herrell did not disclose that her company, Herrell Properties, earned $440,000 from the state by renting property to the New Mexico taxation and environmental departments while she was serving as a lawmaker.

She amended her disclosure form, but Kathleen Sabo, executive director of nonpartisan group New Mexico Ethics Watch, told the AP the ethics requirements were meant to “make sure that people know that our public officials and public servants are working for the public rather than to enrich themselves.”