Friday, April 20, 2012

Mary Herrera Back in the News

Former Secretary of State Mary Herrera was the center of not one but TWO stories in this morning's New Mexican.

First, I did an article about the fact that a state district judge has dismissed a whistleblower suit against Herrera filed by her former spokesman James Flores. Flores claimed he was fired in 2010 because he had been interviewed by the FBI about alleged wrongdoing by Herrera.

The firings of Flores and former SOS employee Manny Vildasol and their accusations that Herrera had illegally politicized the office were major factors in Herrera losing the SOS race in 2010.

State District Judge Sarah Singleton threw out the suit because Flores did not respond to a motion by Herrera to dismiss the suit. (Actually, the judge waited until a few weeks after the deadline to dismiss the suit.) Singleton did not rule on Herrera's claim that the state Whistleblower Protection Act is unconstitutional.

A similar suit by Vildasol still is pending.

Nothing ever became of that FBI investigation. Herrera lost her re-election, but she never was charged with any crime.

But (in my best infomercial voiceover voice) wait! There's more!

My colleague Trip Jennings did a story that includes the fact that Herrera recently had her lawyer send a  letter threatening a lawsuit against her old political rival Valerie Espinoza, who is running for a Public Regulation Commission seat.

The letter claims that Espinoza, apparently at a recent candidate forum, made statements about Herrera that were "not based on any facts and were made maliciously, willfully and for the sole purpose of trying to humiliate and defame Ms. Herrera."

Lawyer Rudy Chavez wrote. "You are hereby put on notice that Ms. Herrera's friends and associates in the Democratic Party will be monitoring all of your communications to see if you continue this pattern."

According to Trip's article, "Espinoza acknowledged saying at last week's candidate forum in Eldorado that she had questions about the 2010 Democratic candidate for secretary of state's `integrity and ability to hold that office.' " Espinoza said she didn't mention Herrera's name.

Herrera also forwarded a copy of Chavez's letter to state Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales, telling Gonzales, "Stop ignoring the `Cafeteria Democrat' candidates who decide to support Republican and other party candidates at will. As Chair of New Mexico Democratic Party, I ask you again to do what is right for the Democratic Party."

Herrera isn't running anything, but it looks like she's still in the fray.