Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carmen Lujan Reacts to "Retard" Comment

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, his mother
Carmen Lujan and late father Ben Lujan
There has been a lot of political back and forth today over the Mother Jones story about Gov. Susana Martinez. Most of it's predictable -- cries of shock and outrage from shocked-and-outraged Dems and charges of hypocrisy by Republicans who say the Dems are worse.

But down on the human level, I just received this email from Carmen Lujan, the widow of the late House Speaker Ben Lujan. She was upset about one particular portion of the article -- the part in which a Martinez campaign aide talks about her husband, saying “Somebody told me he’s absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard.”

Mrs. Lujan wrote:

"When I read and heard the audio from Governor Martinez's staff this morning it crushed my heart. I called my family in tears and felt sick to my stomach. 

Why would someone be so cruel and disrespectful? Ben committed his life to helping people, even while fighting cancer - people always came first. He had an incredible mind and heart. This makes me so sad. 

He was a life long champion of working people, he used his voice and his words to make a difference. 

But these cruel words by Matt [Kennicott], are not just about Ben, they hurt and attack the people of our State. Anyone who speaks with an accent, anyone who speaks Spanglish and uses both English and Spanish to communicate was attacked by the governor's staff. 

It was not easy to speak up and put this together, but someone has to.

Mother Jones Scorches Gov. Susana

From the Mother Jones article

Mother Jones magazine this morning published a scathing profile of Gov. Susana Martinez that will have the political world here buzzing for days.

Much of it is rehash of stuff New Mexicans already know, including things covered in The National Review's piece on Martinez political advisor Jay McCleskey last year.

But the article uses several behind-the-scenes audio tapes that are not very flattering. The Martinez camp doesn't dispute the authenticity but says the tapes were "stolen."

Clips from the recordings are embedded in the article.

Among the controversial moments on those recordings:

*Matt Kennicott, then a campaign aide talking about former House speaker Ben Luj├ín, telling Martinez  "Somebody told me he's absolutely eloquent in Spanish, but his English? He sounds like a retard."

* During the 2010 campaign, when some thought that cutting teachers' salaries might be inevitable because of the budget crisis, Martinez said in a taped conversation, "During the campaign, we can't say it, I guess, because it's education, but…they already don't work, you know, two and a half months out of the year."

* Talking about how the administration could respond to criticism if Martinez cut teachers' salaries after promising not to, political advisor Jay McCleskey suggested the campaign could post "a YouTube video that no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain. And when you win, we say, 'See we said this shit the whole time. What are you guys talking about?'" To which Kennicott responded: "It's on YouTube. C'mon, bitches." [This all is moot of course because teachers' salaries didn't get cut.]

* Discussing the state's Commission on the Status of Women, of which Martinez asks: "What the hell is that? What the hell does a commission on women's cabinet do all day long?"

* Calling her gubernatorial opponent and former Lt. Gov Diane Denish "that little bitch."

Well, if anyone's really shocked by that last one -- a politician calling an opponent a nasty name, I'll provide Kleenex later.

In fact, in a fundraising letter, sent just this morning, Martinez said, "Their `smoking gun'? I referred to Diane Denish using the B-word four years ago in a private conversation with close advisers. I admit it — I've had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life."

If her Chief of Staff Keith Gardner had a "cuss jar" we  would never have to worry about balancing the budget again. (Sorry Keith.)

In the rest of the letter, Martinez said:

"We’ve come a long way since the days of Bill Richardson, but now liberals in Washington want to undo the progress we’ve made. In the absolute height of desperation, one of the most radically liberal publications in the country is now peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago. ...

"But this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico. This tabloid is using material from the same people who are under federal indictment and investigation for stealing my personal emails. The same liberals who decry the `War on Women' are more than happy to promote the same line of attack as those who stole my personal underwear order."

That's a slap at The Santa Fe Reporter, who did once report that Martinez received an email receipt from Spanx.

The first Democratic candidate to respond was Lawrence Rael, who said:

"These audio clips reveal a side of Governor Martinez and her aides that is offensive on so many levels.  Not to mention that she would have to work with Speaker Lujan when she was elected. That she didn’t reprimand Matt Kennicott is inexcusable. But that she then rewarded him with a job as the spokesperson for the Human Services Department (HSD) and a salary of $73,000 is unconscionable. HSD, in fact, oversees several programs that administer mental health services for over 85,000 New Mexicans."

I'm betting there will be much more discussion on this in the near future.

Here's the audio:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Duran's Report Fixed

In today's paper in my story about campaign finance reports, I noted some odd entries on Secretary of State Dianna Duran's report.

Most of Duran’s biggest contributors weren’t identified. There was an unnamed political action committee from Artesia, which gave $7,500; entities identified only as “Roofing Industry” and “Automobile Industry,” each of which contributed $5,000 ...

However, since I downloaded her initial report, Duran's campaign filed an amended version, which gives the names of those donors.

The mystery PAC from Artesia that gave $7,500 actually was the Mack Energy Corporation. The "Roofing Industry" turned out to be just one company, G&G Roofing in Hobbs, which gave $5,000. Likewise, the "Automobile Industry" is Car of New Mexico in Albuquerque (also giving $5,000.)

I haven't asked yet but I suspect the initial omissions were merely oversights or computer glitches.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Campaign Finance Day!

UPDATED 3:15 pm

See updates below main post

Today is the deadline for the first campaign finance reports for the year for state races. It will be the first clear indication of the fundraising strength of all five Democratic candidates for governor -- as well as that of incumbent Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who has been raising funds all over the country for the past year.

So far, the only gubernatorial candidate to file a report is Mario Martinez of Clovis, who is running as a write-in. According to his report, he raised exactly ZERO dollars. I have no reason to doubt that.

The only peep out of the other candidates is a press release from Democrat Alan Webber's campaign, which said he'd raised more than $834,000. One thing I'll be watching for in his report is how much, if any of his own money he put in. He said when he first announced that he wouldn't be self-financing.

Another interesting race to  look at is the Secretary of State race to see whether Democratic challenger Maggie Oliver continued to outpace GOP incumbent Dianna Duran, as was the case when the last reports in October were filed. Neither has filed a report yet today. In October, Oliver had raised more than $68,000, while Duran had raised only $6,100. Neither has a primary opponent.

Watch here and on the New Mexican site for the complete numbers when they come in.

UPDATE: 3:15 p.m

Allen Webber is the first gubernatorial candidate to post his campaign finance report. He reported raising more than $811,000 (slightly lower than what his press release said this morning) -- more than half of which coming from himself and his wife, Frances Diemoz. The total Weber and Diemoz gave is $450,057, which includes a $150,000 loan to the campaign. Also, Webber reported nearly $7,000 in in-kind (non-cash) contributions.

Back in October when he announced his candidacy, Webber, a former magazine publisher, told reporters he would not self-finance, telling the New Mexico Watchdog,  "I don’t think it’s good for democracy." Ive asked the campaign for a response.

The only other report I've seen so far is Secretary of State candidate Maggie Oliver, who reports raising $109,354 since October. I'll post Dianna Duran's total when it comes in.

Neri Holguin of the Webber campaign just replied to my question:

Half raised and half contributing is hardly self-financing. Alan is committed to New Mexico and has always said he would “put his own skin in the game” and he has done just that.  See what he said when he announced -- he says it best:

“I don’t believe in self-financing campaigns. I don’t think it’s good for democracy. I think people should not buy their way into public office. I’m going to put some of my own money in the game. I believe candidates should put their own skin in the game. Not just, obviously, their time, everyone who runs works really hard and cares really deeply, but I think we all need to step up and put something in the pot to show we’re committed. But after that, I’m going to be asking for New Mexicans to create a network of people to contribute their ideas and their passions and also involved contributing money.” 

Please note, I corrected the figure that Webber and his wife contributed to their campaign. I was over by $10,000.

Also, the Martinez campaign just sent out a news release saying they'd raised $1,396,169 in contributions since October, plus $114,188 in  in-kind contributions. The news release said that 88 percent of the contributions were from in-state. More later.


Will Scott Chandler be Howie Morales’ Bill Ayers?

No, Chandler, who held a recent fundraiser for Morales, didn’t belong to the Weather Underground or blow up any buildings. But he and his Tierra Blanca Ranch High Country Youth Program are the subject of civil suits claiming child abuse, one of them a wrongful death suit.

Ayers became an embarrassment for Barrack Obama during his 2008 campaign because early in Obama’s political career, Ayers hosted a fundraiser for him.

And just a couple of weeks ago, Chandler was involved in a political event in Deming for Morales, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor. And Republicans are saying — in so many words — that Morales is palling around with (alleged) child abusers.

For the rest of this column, go to the version on The New Mexican's site.

BLOG BONUS: There's a YouTube featuring the audio of what purports to be Scott Chandler introducing Morales at the fundraiser or meet-and-greet or whatever it was. Please note that it's been heavily edited -- you can hear the clicks and when words get cut out etc. And who knows who "Jav Cha" is. (This is his first and only YouTube video posted.)

In it, the man who says he's Chandler talks about the "state burn-down" (which I assume was the Amber Alert situation), “When we were going through that and the Senate was looking at the stuff we had, uh, you know, Howie was kind of helping us guide through some of that ...”

“I had a conversation with Howie, and I thought, you know what, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't want to uh, be associated with what’s going on. And he said, ‘What is right is right’. ... I'm very honored to be able to put this on for the senator ...”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Don't Vote For Me

This is just a strange little anecdote about the perils of modern campaigning.
He really does want you to vote for him

Tuesday morning I was looking at my Tweetdeck and noticed something from Allen Weh, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate. Right by the Colonel's smiling face was the message "DO NOT VOTE FOR ALLEN WEH!"

I checked again, to make sure it wasn't some joke account, but no, it was Weh's campaign Twitter feed.

There was a link to follow. My first guess was that that the message would be something like "Don't vote for Allen Weh if you like the mess in Washington, D.C." or "if you like high taxes" or something.

But no.

The link went to a site that appeared to be some kind of national GOP message board and here was the rest of the message

Allen Weh's campaign made a contract and then DID NOT PAY THEIR BILL of $2,500 owed. In addition they broke the non-disclosure agreements. It is our opinion that Allen Weh's team cannot be trusted.

Allen Weh's team put down half of the money to make sure that their competition for US Senate could not use the tools to win, as we only serve one campaign per primary, they pumped us for information on best practices, which they then used, and then they canceled the account after two months, and after they were ahead of [Republican primary  opponent David] Clements and had the knowledge they think they need to win.

We will now be helping the Clements campaign win the election. It is our opinion that Allen Weh and/or his campaign staff will use dishonest and trickery to win. We do not support that in any way. This is our opinion.

Oh my.

I texted someone I know in Weh's campaign asking "have you guys been hacked?"

And -- talk about rapid response -- just a few seconds later, the Tweet in question was gone.

The campaign later told me that indeed the account had been hacked. Or something like that. Apparently there was a contract dispute with a web designer. Weh's folks say the company didn't deliver what was promised (and you can see above what the company says.)

Apparently the  "DO NOT VOTE FOR ALLEN WEH!" message also appeared on the campaign's Facebook page, but it was gone before I was able to see it. The message on the message board also was zapped within minutes, although I had it up in my browser, so I was able to copy it.

I must have been the only reporter/political junkie to see it, because I didn't see any re-tweets or commentary about it.

I'm not taking sides in the dispute over the contract, I just share it as a cautionary tale about modern politics. Keep a close eye on your social media and change your passwords often!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

First Susana Ad of 2014

Yes, the race is on even though Gov. Susana has no Republican primary opponent, she's on TV with an spot telling about all the wonderful things she's done.

Yes, it's all positive. The rough stuff starts later.

Announcer: Four years ago.... A national recession. Federal budget cuts hit us hard.So New Mexico chose bold. The first Hispanic woman governor in American history. Susana Martinez

Martinez: Being  governor has never been about making a name for myself. It’s about making a difference in the lives of New Mexicans.

Announcer: Largest deficit ever, gone without raising taxes. Bipartisan Jobs package. Cut taxes 24 times. #1 in export growth. Improving  our schools. Graduation rates up. Hispanics lead the nation on advanced placement tests.

Martinez: I grew up knowing what it’s like to struggle…..and how we all help one another. Helping people. It’s the best part about being*governor. Helping kids read by the 3rd grade so they can chase their dreams. Helping small businesses create good jobs. There's more to do, but I believe in New Mexico and that tomorrow will be better than today.

Announcer: She’s our  governor. Susana Martinez.

UPDATE: 6:09 pm An earlier version inadvertently left out some of the text of the ad. It's been added.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Massey's Eulogy For Max Coll

Max Coll on the Dolores River in Colorado
Photo by Barry Massey

The memorial service for the late former Rep. Max Coll took place in the Rotunda today. My story about that is HERE

Among those speaking at the service was Associated Press reporter Barry Massey, a longtime friend and rafting buddy of Max's. (Barry took the above photo on a rafting trip on the Dolores River a few years ago.)  In my article I quoted from that eulogy, but had to leave out a lot. With his permission, I'm posting the entire eulogy below:

In remembering the life of Max Coll, it’s appropriate we gather here in this rotunda because its walls are travertine marble, and you can find that rock in one of the special river places Max so loved. There are travertine deposits on the south side of the Grand Canyon in Havasu Creek.

And this Rotunda is like a canyon. When this building is filled during legislative sessions, and people are washing through it, the din of their voices is like the ever present roar of a river and the rapids that you hear before you see them.

I am not here to talk about Max Coll, the legislator. Rather I want to talk about Max the whitewater rafter. The Max who regularly escaped this Capitol to the canyons of the West and the rivers that carved those canyons through rock from the basement  of time.

Whitewater rafting defined Max as much as his years in elective office. For Max and those who rafted with him, the river trips offered a source of abiding camaraderie and a way to explore some of nature’s cathedrals.

I want to share some recollections from his rafting friends -- and there are legions of those.  They will tell you that river trips with Max were an adventure of whitewater but also a journey in fellowship.

Max the rafter was the guy in the ever-present rolled up, cut-off blue jean shorts, T-shirt, a broad-rimmed hat, sunglasses and a hi-float life vest with a whistle dangling from it.

Max the rafter, in his early river days, was kiddingly called “Flipper” by some friends because of a series of mishaps on a trip down the Salt River in Arizona.

Max the rafter was the man who kept a large photograph on his office wall in the Capitol that captured him, his son, Tres, and daughter-in-law Liz crashing through the waves one of the big rapids of the Grand Canyon.

One of Max’s dearest friends describes him as the “Pied Piper” of rafting trips. He wrote, “Max loved to read somewhere on the beach and before too long, one by one, like a trail of ants, we would set up our chairs to be near Max because he pulled us in like the earth’s rotation. His gravitas was as powerful as the main current of the river.”

Another rafting friend recalls riding on Max’s boat toward an infamous rapid known as Quartzite Falls, where the water plunges several feet. Max decided the river flow was adequate and to ‘read and run’ the rapid rather than stop to scout it.

The friend, not having done that before on this particularly difficult rapid, asked Max what to do.

“Just scream a lot!” Max replied, laughing all the while as the boat approached the rapid.

“We had a great run,” the friend remembers.

The gentle side of Max always was on display during raft trips. One friend recalls a trip along the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande in the Big Bend country. While scouting a rapid 30 miles from anything, they found a kitten under a bush. Max decided it was better to make it his barn cat hunting mice rather than leave it to be hunted by coyotes. So “Madison,” as he named the cat in memory of the rapid, had a happy life with Max after two exciting days on rafts and a long car trip back to Santa Fe.

If you talked to Max about rivers -- whether it was the nearby Chama or lower San Juan, the Green, the Yampa, the Upper Animas or the Colorado through the Grand Canyon -- his eyes would brighten and he often would recall a rapid that had been well-rowed or one that he had come through upright despite a misjudged line.

I want to tell you about one such rapid known as Snaggletooth -- appropriately named because it contains a large pointy boulder resembling a bicuspid. The current wants to slam you into that rock.

I recall clinging to the front of Max’s cataraft  as we’re going down the Dolores River in southwestern Colorado almost 20 years ago.  His boat is essentially two 18-foot inflatable tubes with a metal frame holding them together.  There’s no floor.  The water rages beneath and all around you.

We’re going through the churning, frothing water of the rapid. And ahead looms the rocks.  We keep getting closer and closer to an ugly jagged thing near Snag Rock,  and I’m thinking … “Max, I really don’t want to swim today.” But then Max makes a couple of strokes and the boat pivots, and we slid right through a gap and beyond the reach of Snaggletooth’s rocks.

Max was a cool customer. Calm under pressure. Strong as an ox on the oars when rowing against the current.

One of Max’s rowing lessons from that trip has stuck with me ever since. In trying to pick a line of travel, he said, look where the current wants to take you and figure out how to make it better.

In all the years and rivers that have followed, that advice has resonated as a way to navigate a river as well as life. That’s one of Max’s great legacies. He made us laugh with his wicked sense of humor. He made us pause and think about the insights he offered into the politics and problems of the world. He shared with us his passion for rivers, canyons and the outdoors -- but especially he shared his passion for life and people.
An old Max Coll campaign button
worn Monday by Sen. Peter Wirth

He lived as he rowed.

He saw where the currents of life and politics wanted to pull and push him, and he figured out a way to make it better. And he made it better for all of us by inviting us along for the ride.

Max the rafter was a great teacher, introducing many to the red rock canyons and rivers he loved to travel.

Max’s daughter-in-law is among those who learned to row a raft from him. Liz recalls, “Perhaps the most essential life skill I learned from rafting is the ability to focus totally in the present moment. In order to survive, or at very least to stay afloat in the raft in whitewater, you HAVE to be present in the moment.”

“Max,” she wrote, “although you may no longer be with us in the present moment, we’ll always remember that big grin you had when your raft was headed into a rapid, or towards a hole.”

“May we all face life’s obstacles with Max’s enthusiasm for a rapid, and get the exhilaration from our lives that he did from river rafting.”


Rand Stands with Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez's got some help in her battle against the "union bosses" Monday.

U.S. Sen Rand Paul, a Kentucky a Republican probably running for president, sent a fundraising email that said:

I need your help. Union bosses are going after my good friend, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. Why? Because she opposes forcing state government to collect union dues for Big Labor. That’s right: she believes the union – not taxpayers – should be the ones collecting dues for union activities.

The money pitch comes later, but all Paul asks for is $5 to "help Susana take a stand against the union bosses ..."

Paul is just the latest of the possible GOP 2016 contenders to associate themselves with Martinez. Jeb Bush recently came to the state. And don't forget New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for whom she campaigned in the New Jersey governor's race last year.

Martinez Skewers Dem Opponents in Email

If anyone thought Gov. Susana Martinez was going to spend her re-election campaign reading to kids, think again.

In a campaign fundraising letter that went out this weekend, Martinez launched scathing attacks against four of her five Democratic opponents. (Sen. Linda Lopez might be feeling left out.

Here's some of what the letter said with some context in brackets:

From January 1st until the middle of March, I was unable to ask for contributions for my campaign. My Democrat opponents were not under the same restrictions and have been out furiously raising money. Well, raising money and raising eyebrows along the way.

The Albuquerque Journal reported today that Attorney General Gary King's top corruption prosecutor complained that King may have broken state law by how he tried to raise money from government employees.

[That's a reference to Assistant Attorney General Chris Lackmann, director of the Attorney General’s Government Accountability Division, who was informed he'd been terminated last week. King told the Journal that Lackmann’s firing has “absolutely nothing” to do with the complaint Lackmann sent to a district attorney in November. King also denied that his request for personal information violated state law.]

KOB-TV reported that a man who made national news when his ranch was accused of torturing and abusing children held a fundraiser for Democrat Howie Morales on Thursday. The man wants to help Morales, because our approach to fighting child abuse has apparently been too tough. 

[Morales was invited to visit Deming voters by Scott Chandler who operates the Tierra Blanca High Country Youth Ranch near Hillsboro. The ranch made national headlines for alleged abuse and a death of a teen at the ranch. Morales' campaign released a statement saying "The Chandler family are among a large and diverse community from the area who have been gracious enough to support my campaign.”]

And ultra-liberal Alan Webber has been raising money at exclusive champagne brunches and holding events from San Francisco to elite members-only clubs in New York, hoping to raise campaign cash from a network of national liberals. Webber is a darling of the Left and extreme environmentalists for promoting radical policies, like having the government mandate a $4.50 per gallon minimum gas price to discourage people from driving their cars.

[Hitting Webber for "exclusive champagne brunches etc. Probably violates the political "Glass House Rule." Martinez surely has had a few fancy fundraisers as she's courted money from huge GOP donors all over the country. But, if Webber is the nominee, this might be a way to inoculate herself when the Dems start screaming "The Koch Brothers!" etc.]

Another Democrat, Lawrence Rael, is a lobbyist and government insider. How aggressive will he be raising campaign money?  So aggressive that he was previously found to have violated the federal Hatch Act for mixing political campaign activities and official government work.

[That's a reference to Rael's 2008 campaign for lieutenant governor. My colleague Milan Simonich did a blog on this at his former job last year. "A letter in November 2009 from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in Washington said it had “concluded that Mr. Rael’s current candidacy for lieutenant governor of New Mexico is in violation of the Hatch Act.” It went on to say that he was retiring from his  regional government job “and we have no evidence that he willfully violated the act, we have decided not to pursue disciplinary action in this matter.”]

It's not going to get any nicer, folks.

UPDATE 7:45 pm: Democratic candidate Lawrence Rael responded to the Martinez email's comments about him:

Contrary to what Susana Martinez would have you believe, there is a reason that the Office of the Special Counsel chose not to pursue the Hatch Act allegation, because it was without merit. ... It’s telling how little she has to attack me with, when her allegations fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.”