Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bregman Subpoenas Susana

As he threatened to do two weeks ago, an Albuquerque lawyer has subpoenaed Gov. Susana Martinez in the wrongful termination case of the former boyfriend of Martinez's former secretary of the Corrections Department.

The subpoena, issued Friday, July 27 by administrative law Judge Leonard Padilla, commands Martinez to appear at the law office of Sam Bregman at 11 a.m. Sept. 10.

Bregman represents Larry Flynn, a state probation and parole supervisor who was fired in December, about three months after an incident in which he allegedly fired a gun outside of the home on state penitentiary grounds that he shared with then-Corrections Secretary Lupe Martinez — no relation to the governor.

Flynn  told state police investigators that he was shooting at rattlesnakes. Flynn also had been investigated on allegations that he's padded his time card.

Flynn was improperly fired, Bregman argues, because the Governor’s Office improperly got involved in a personnel action against a classified state employee.

A spokesman for the governor said Tuesday that Gov. Martinez had not yet been served with the subpoena to testify, but had received a previous subpoena from Bregman to produce documents, including emails related to Flynn.

Asked whether Gov. Martinez would fight the subpoena to testify — and if so, if she'd invoke executive privilege  — spokesman Scott Darnell said in an email, "We will examine that issue if/when it arises. Again, as we’ve said, this is an attorney’s latest ploy to focus on anything but Mr. Flynn’s own conduct as a state employee, which led to Secretary Marcantel’s disciplinary decision."

Gregg Marcantel was appointed to the job of Corrections secretary last year after Lupe Martinez left. Marcantel fired Flynn.

Bregman is an Albuquerque-based Democratic Party activist who has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate. He has declined to comment on his possible candidacy.

Also issued subpoenas Friday were Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner, deputy chief of staff Ryan Cangiolosi and State Police Chief Robert Shilling.

Judge Padilla ruled last month that Gardner, will have to answer questions about Flynn’s firing. The Governor’s Office had tried to quash that subpoena, claiming executive privilege. However, Padilla said Gardner wasn't protected by executive privilege.

Bregman postponed Gardner's deposition after he obtained an email sent to Martinez regarding Flynn.

The email in question is from Cangiolosi, sent from his Yahoo account to Martinez, at her susana2010.com address and copied to Gardner at his Gmail account. The email is dated Sept. 5 — two days after Lupe Martinez abruptly resigned from her $106,000-a-year job and less than two months before Flynn was charged by state police with two misdemeanors related to the shooting incident. Both charges later were dropped.

“Governor, Please see the attached document brief on Larry Flynn,” Cangiolosi wrote. Attached was a memo from Rosa Manning of the State Police Criminal Investigations Division to Chief Shilling, stating, “Per your request, investigative research was conducted on Larry E. Flynn ...” The report lists other personal information on Flynn, including court cases involving Flynn, vehicle registrations and links to news stories about him on the Internet.

Martinez has vehemently denied she ever received  Cangiolosi's email. She and others in the administration have said all of Martinez's 2010 campaign emails accounts have been defunct since the middle of last year.
Gov Martinez Subpoena

Monday, July 30, 2012

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: The Myth of the Voting Dead

Yikes! I realized that I'm late in posting my last Sunday column -- I usually do that on Monday morning -- but I just realized that somehow my column from the previous Sunday never got posted either. I don't think it's obsolete yet, so here it is, better late than never.

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
 July 17, 2012

Secretary of State Dianna Duran is once again looking for noncitizens on the state’s voter rolls. Her office, as I reported last week, is requesting access to a Homeland Security database. But if this effort goes like the extensive search for illegal immigrants that Duran conducted last year, she’ll be six times more likely to find a dead person registered to vote than a live noncitizen.

Duran’s study last year found 641 dead people on the state’s voter rolls. Also uncovered were 104 noncitizens who registered to vote in New Mexico, though only 19 of those actually cast ballots in elections. (The Secretary of State’s Office didn’t know whether any of the dead voters had ballots cast for them.)

Jokes about the voting dead — or should we call them “The Silent Majority”? — have long been part of New Mexico’s political culture. It looks like the current County Clerk of Santa Fe County and her likely successor are tired of the joke.

Geraldine Salazar, running unopposed to be the next county clerk, last week sent out a lengthy statement on behalf of her boss, County Clerk Valerie Espinoza, trying to alleviate fears of deceased people clogging the ballot boxes.

Salazar said in every election, invariably some voter “will be signing the signature roster and say, ‘What is Aunt Tilly’s name doing in the roster? She died two years ago. Can she still vote?’ ” Espinoza, Salazar said, “wants to assure citizens that the deceased do not vote in the county.”

Salazar noted that during Espinoza’s two terms, “there has been only one documented occurrence where a voter tried (and failed) to get an absentee ballot for a deceased brother. The system and astute city and county staff members prevented voter fraud.”

But, Salazar said, this “still begs the question why do the deceased and ex-residents remain registered voters in Santa Fe County? The reason is that state law is scrupulous in protecting citizens’ right to vote.” It’s not enough for a relative or a friend to call up and say that a loved one has died or moved out of state, she said.

“Think of the mischief that could happen if staff members accepted anyone’s calling — sight unseen — to say that Aunt Tilly had died or John Doe had moved and should be taken off the voter list. Using robocalls, political parties and operatives could disenfranchise thousands of voters. To counteract fraud, state law insists on documentary evidence.”

One such documentation is a newspaper obituary. Salazar said County Clerk’s Office staff reads the local papers’ obit pages every day looking for voters who have shuffled off their mortal coil. “Staff members check birth dates, residency and then research them in the state’s electronic voter file,” she said. “If there is a match, the person’s electronic record is marked `deceased’ to deactivate it, and the record is removed from the system.”

I’m just nit-picking here, but obits aren’t always reliable. Back when I was a police reporter, I wrote extensively about the case of an Oklahoma woman’s skeleton found buried under a rosebush on Santa Fe’s east side. The suspect, the woman’s son, said that couldn’t be possible. His mother had died in Maryland, and there was an obituary in her hometown paper to prove it.

However, Maryland officials testified that there was no death certificate for the woman in that state. And I talked to folks at the Oklahoma newspaper that ran the obituary, and they admitted that they don’t normally verify obits that come in. (The suspect in the case was found not guilty of murder.)

OK, I’ll admit that’s an extreme example (and has nothing to do with voting. I don’t think the poor victim ever cast a ballot after she was buried under that rosebush.) The point is, while most obituary information comes straight from the funeral home, there can be exceptions.

If there’s not a published obituary, Salazar said, the county clerk wouldn’t know to remove the name unless the family brings in a death certificate.

This is all well and good, but as Viki Harrison of New Mexico Common Cause recently pointed out, only about half the registered voters bother to show up and vote. If the living aren’t interested, maybe we should open it up to the dead.

Contact Steve Terrell at sterrell@sfnewmexican.com. Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Tom Udall and his Pet Issues

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
July 17, 2012

For a senator who isn’t up for re-election this year, New Mexico’s Tom Udall sure seems to be at the forefront of a lot of interesting national issues.

REP. TOM UDALLUdall’s pet causes, for the most part, are not the ones driving the national political conversation. But no matter what position you take on the issues — or what you think of the senator himself — it’s interesting to watch how Udall is building a national profile by taking strong positions in the face of strong opposition.

Just last week Democrat Udall, along with New Mexico’s retiring senior senator, Jeff Bingaman, and a handful of other senators from both political parties, sent a letter to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, requesting information about Americans’ communications that have been secretly collected by the federal government under a 4-year-old surveillance law.

“We are alarmed that the intelligence community has stated that ‘it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located inside the United States whose communications may have been reviewed’ under the FISA Amendments Act,” the letter said. FISA is short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Udall has a long history of being concerned with government intrusion on people’s privacy. In 2001, back in the immediate wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Udall was one of just 66 House members who voted against the U.S. Patriot Act.

Earlier in the week, Udall testified before a Senate subcommittee on a constitutional amendment he’s introduced that would nullify the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision by giving Congress and state legislatures the right to impose campaign spending limits.

“Support is building for my constitutional amendment,” he told radio reporters in a conference call Tuesday. “Over 1.7 million citizens have signed petitions in support of an amendment. Over 275 local resolutions have passed calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. And legislatures in six states, including New Mexico, have called on Congress to send an amendment to the states for ratification.”

Udall can’t claim bipartisan support on this one, though. According to national news reports, no Republican senators even attended the hearing. And Udall conceded at the hearing that “an amendment can only succeed if Republicans join us in this effort.”

Good luck.

Earlier in July, Udall was in the news for chairing a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on proposed legislation to ban race-day medication in horse racing. He and U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., are the sponsors of a bill called the Interstate Horse Racing Improvement Act.

“Across the United States, and sadly in New Mexico, the sport of horse racing has reached a terrible level of corruption and exploitation,” Udall said before the hearing. “Horses are being drugged to run through injuries. When they break down, jockeys are seriously injured, sometimes fatally, and the horses are euthanized. And all of this for profit.”

One of Udall’s pet issues, ending the U.S. Senate filibuster, was thought to be dead after the Senate in 2010 voted down a resolution Udall co-sponsored that would have allowed the Senate to halt debate on a bill by a simple majority vote. However, this month Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — who opposed Udall’s bill in 2010 — said he now would push such a change if Democrats retain control of the Senate.

If that happens, Udall undoubtedly will be out front on this issue again.

Who Won the Redistricting Wars?

The lawyers, of course.

Retired state District Judge Jim Hall, who presided over the redistricting trials earlier this year has decided which lawyers get paid how much by the state for their work in redistricting.

In short, taxpayers are out more than $2.9 million.

Here's how the money is being divided:

Sena plaintiffs (Republican legislators) $172,730.54
Multi-tribal plaintiffs (Native American tribes) $685,346.63
James Plaintiffs (Republican legislators) $524,427.87
Maestas plaintiffs (Democratic legislators) $829,441.16
Egolf plaintiffs (Democratic legislators) $756,681.82
League of United Latin American Citizens $20,222.50

Barry Massey of the Associated Press has a story about this HERE.

Below is Hall's 24-page decision

Decision on Attorney's Fees

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is #FF a Clue to Mitt's Running Mate?

Beth Meyers, who is in charge of Mitt Romney's vice president search, caused some twitter on Twitter  after she Tweeted these "Follow Friday" messages earlier today.

Our governor's Twitter handle is up there along with others mentioned as possible Republican veep nominees.

But I wouldn't get all that excited about this.

I spoke with @Gov_Martinez earlier this week and asked her whether she'd changed her mind about wanting to be Romney's running mate. As I expected, he said she had not and added, "They haven't even called.

Out on a Pledge

Here's a modest proposal: Instead of voting on candidates, from now on we just vote on the pledges that various interest groups currently have candidates sign.

In today's New Mexican, I took a look at single-interest pledges signed by New Mexico's two major-party U.S. Senate candidates have signed.

In the piece I quote David Walker, a co-founder  of the moderate political group No Labels. Walker is a former U.S. Comptroller who served under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

“What that basically means is that Congress has signed away its ability to ever seriously address our country’s fiscal problems,” Walker said in a statement issued by No Labels. “They are elected to solve problems, not to stonewall solutions.”

I also quote an editorial that ran last year in USA Today under the headline “Candidates who sign pledges outsource their brains.” You can find that HERE.

And of course I quote Heather Wilson and Martin Heinrich saying why the pledges they signed are good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Udall & Bingaman Want to Know More on Domestic Spying

Both of New Mexico U.S. senators -- Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall want to know more about the numbers of Americans whose emails and other communications have been peeped at by U.S. intelligence.

Bingaman and Udall joined 10 other senators from both political parties to send a letter to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence. They requested information about Americans’ communications that have been secretly collected by the federal government under the 2008 the FISA Amendments Act.

"We are concerned that Congress and the public do not currently have a full understanding of the impact that this law has had on the privacy of law-abiding Americans,” the letter said. “We are alarmed that the intelligence community has stated that ‘it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located inside the United States whose communications may have been reviewed’ under the FISA Amendments Act."

FISA is short for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

A news release from the senators today says:

Section 702 of the FISA statute (which was created by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008) gave the government new authorities to collect the communications of foreigners located outside the U.S. The executive branch has said that it cannot estimate how many American citizens may have been swept up in section 702 collections and the current law offers no prohibition against searching that collection of communications obtained without a warrant for communications of American citizens. The Senators state that this loophole should be closed.

Besides Udall and Bingaman, the other senators signing the letter were Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mike Lee (R- Utah), Bernie Sanders (I-VT.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Dick Durbin (D-Il.)

It's interesting that the two Republican senators, Paul and Lee both are associated with the Tea Party, while many of the Democratic signers, including Udall, are associated with the progressive wing of their party. Concerns about privacy and government intrusion are consistent with both the philosophies of both factions.

Below is the letter:

Clapper Letter

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Heather's New Ad

Well, it didn't take long for the U.S Senate race to go negative.

Here's Heather Wilson's new one, attacking Martin Heinrich for his vote for a medical device tax, after warning Democratic House leaders that it might be bad for a medical device company in Albuquerque.

Heinrich, however, said at the time he wrote that letter in 2010, the tax being proposed was twice as high as what he voted for.

My full analysis is HERE.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Courthouse for Gov. Mechem?

I just got back from a news conference at the Toney Anaya Building, which is right near the Garrey Carruthers Building, but I wanted to let you know about a building that might get named for another former New Mexico governor.

The U.S. House today passed legislation to name a federal courthouse in  Las Cruces after former Gov. Edwin Mechem, who also served as a federal judge and briefly as U.S. senator.

Here's the news release from Congressman Steve Pearce:

Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation introduced by Congressman Pearce to name the federal courthouse located at 100 North Church Street in Las Cruces, New Mexico, as the Edwin L. Mechem United States Courthouse.

“I am very pleased that this legislation honoring the legacy of one of New Mexico’s most distinguished public servants has cleared this important hurdle,” said Pearce. “I hope the Senate will act quickly to ensure Governor Mechem receives the recognition he has long deserved.”

“This year marks the 100th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood and July 2, 2012, would be Governor Mechem 100th birthday. Naming the courthouse the Edwin L. Mechem United States Courthouse during 2012 is an honor befitting his life of service to New Mexico and New Mexico’s long history of dedicated public servants,” added Pearce.

Josephine Mechem, the wife of the late Governor, United States Senator and Judge, issued the following statement:

“I would like to thank Congressman Pearce for his leadership on this legislation honoring my husband’s service to our state and country. Our family appreciates Edwin’s legacy being recognized. I hope the Senate will pass this soon as it would be fitting to have this honor bestowed on my husband during New Mexico’s Centennial celebration.”

Governor Mechem was a community leader who dedicated his life to public service. He was a four term Governor of New Mexico and the first born in New Mexico post-statehood. Governor Mechem also served New Mexico in the New Mexico House of Representatives, in the United States Senate and as United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico. He presided as a United States District Judge from 1970 until his death in 2002.

Here's a story in the Alamogordo Daily News by Milan Simonich talking about Mechem, the courthouse and the Cricket Coogler murder case.

But even funnier is this blog that has a version of Simonich's story, but for some reason has a picture of Laura Palmer of Twin Peaks instead of Cricket Coogler. (I'm pretty sure Milan had nothing to do with that.)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rogers Resigns From FOG

Republican lawyer Pat Rogers on Friday night resigned from his position as a board member of Foundation for Open Government following news stories highlighting private emails he sent to high ranking members of Gov. Susana Martinez's administration.

"... it is clear that this, my prompt resignation will allow NMFOG and all of the NMFOG volunteers to concentrate on your critical First Amendment and open government mission and avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized," Rogers wrote.

Rogers in his letter referred to a July 2 commentary by blogger Heath Haussamen that called on Rogers to resign from the FOG board due to conflicts of interest created by Rogers serving as a Republican National Committeeman, and representing interests such as the Downs at Albuquerque while also serving on the open-government group.

The recently released emails show Rogers contacting Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner and deputy chief of staff Ryan Cangiolosi -- on their personal email accounts -- and sometimes others about a variety of matters, including the controversial Downs deal, other clients he represents including Motorola, which sells communication equipment to state police and Scientific Games International, which has a  $7 million contract with the state Gaming Control Board to monitor gaming machines at racetrack casinos.

The emails were given to reporters by Independent Source PAC, a union-funded group that is highly critical of Martinez.

Many of these emails consisted of Rogers trying to set up meetings between his clients and the administration.

There were cases in which Rogers was trying to influence the selection of governor's appointments. He called one applicant for state engineer a "knucklehead."

And there were a number of attempts at humor, some of which Rogers probably wishes he never wrote. For instance, after Martinez appointed openly-gay Public Regulation Commission Doug Howe, Rogers wrote to Cangiolosi and the governor's political director Jay McCleskey saying, “He promised on his boyfriend’s grave he would support (Republican Commissioner) Pat Lyons for Chair, right?”


Though the emails provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how a prominent Republican lawyer and lobbyist worked the administration, no illegal activity was documented in the emails, which Rogers and the governor herself say were stolen.

Rogers wrote, "It has been a significant honor to represent NMFOG in court, before the Legislature and in the community. I hope NMFOG continues to perform its important work and continues to prosper and grow."

new logo
July 20, 2012
For more info contact:
Gwyneth Doland


The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government tonight accepted the resignation of longtime board member Pat Rogers. His letter is pasted below.

"We appreciate Pat's service over many years to FOG and his dedication to the First Amendment. We understand and appreciate his decision," said NMFOG's board President Terri Cole.

July 20, 2012

Dear Ms. Cole and Members of the NMFOG Executive Committee:

Although I appreciate the effort of the NMFOG Executive Board to schedule a meeting to discuss Mr. Haussamen's concerns about my continuing membership in NMFOG, it is clear that this, my prompt resignation will allow NMFOG and all of the NMFOG volunteers to concentrate on your critical First Amendment and open government mission and avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized.

While even the most virulent partisans calling for my NMFOG resignation admit (as they must) that my actions were always lawful, it is also a fact I sent e-mails to individuals in government using an address that was not a state-issued address.  Use of personal e-mail addresses is a universal practice. My attempted use, however, as highlighted by the publication of certain portions of the stolen emails (emails that  were never received by the intended recipients) has become a significant distraction for this organization.  Moving forward, perhaps NMFOG can recommend changes to update the state law on this issue and develop an approach that is consistently applied to all government and to all persons interacting with government.

It has been a significant honor to represent NMFOG in court, before the Legislature and in the community. I hope NMFOG continues to perform its important work and continues to prosper and grow.  In calling for my resignation, Mr. Haussamen also notes that my service as New Mexico's National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee gave him concerns, as well: "I wondered how he would be able to juggle heavy involvement in a nonpartisan government watchdog organization with such a partisan position".

Perhaps to avoid embarrassing me any further, he does not note my related work as the former General Counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party and my representation of various Republican presidential candidates, Ralph Nader, and the many elected Republican officials, committees, and candidates over the years.  In addition to open government, I believe that political participation, competition, debate and principled dissent are also vital to the health of our society.  I am honored and proud of my work for all of my clients.  My clients, as NMFOG did, receive zealous representation all within the bounds of the law and professional ethics.

Please extend my appreciation and best personal wishes to the entire NMFOG Board.

Best regards,
Pat Rogers

The Santa Fe Reporter this week wrote a lengthy article about the Rogers emails. You can find it HERE.

Blogger Joe Monahan posted all the emails HERE. (Warning: Have your reading glasses handy for these.)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Heather Wilson's New Ad

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Heather Wilson released a new 30-second campaign ad this morning.

Unlike her previous one, which stressed her military backgroun, this isn't a biographical spot. As you can see below, this actually talks about what Wilson says (and few disagree) is the overriding issue of the campaign, the economy.

There's no direct attack on her Democratic opponent Martin Heinrich. In fact there's no mention of her opponent,

Wilson says, "If you think the way to bring jobs back ... is by growing government, growing debt and growing Washington control of our economy, then I'm probably not your candidate." (Perhaps you could argue she's implying here that if you believe those things, Heinrich is your candidate.)

Instead she advocates traditional Republican solutions -- keeping taxes and energy costs low and "freezing job-killing regulations."

Heinrich released his first post-primary ad early this week. You can see it HERE

Speaking of ads, here's a look at one of the recent Sierra Club ads attacking Wilson. CLICK HERE.

Below is the video of Wilson's new campaign spot.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Obama Slipping in NM

Is New Mexico about to rejoin the ranks of the swing states?

According to the latest Public Policy Polling survey, President Barack Obama's lead over Republican Mitt Romney has slipped  here since April.
Obama in Santa Fe 2008
Photo by Anton Terrell

Of the 724 New Mexicans surveyed between Friday and Monday, 42 percent said they would vote for Obama, 38 percent said they'd vote for Romney and 13 percent said they would choose former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who will be on the November ballot.

In April, Obama was leading Romney by 13 percentage points (in the question including Johnson in the race.)

According to PPP's polling memo, Obama's decline is not because of independent voters,  "... the movement comes from a drop in the support he receives from within his own party. 21percent of Democrats said that they preferred Romney in the presidential race, up from 12 percent in April."

Obama has also lost support among both Hispanics and whites. With Hispanics, the president has gone from a 37 point lead to a 22 point lead, the poll said.

And if Gov. Susana Martinez was Romney's running mate, Obama would only have a one-point lead over the Republican. Howver Martinez has insisted she would not accept the nomination because of family reasons.

Johnson's support in a three-way race has dropped two points here since April.

The poll showed Obama's approval rating dropping nine points in this state since April. The new poll showed as many people disapproving of Obama as approving. (Both at 48 percent.)

The margin of error is 3.6 percent.

Another Skewed Poll?

Yesterday the Heather Wilson campaign and the state Republican Party complained about the latest PPP poll that showed Wilson trailing Democrat Martin Heinrich in a 48 percent- 43 percent race.

 "Liberal Group Releases Juiced Poll Numbers in State," said the subject line in the state GOP news release. Wilson's basic complaint was that a higher percentage of Democrats were used in the poll than the percentage of Democratic registration and turnout in 2010.

However, a story just posted in Roll Call says "Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies, said the campaign’s latest internal poll from last month had Heinrich leading 48 percent to 45 percent, within the margin of error and consistent with other polls released in recent weeks."

That's only two percentage points better than the PPP poll.

What's the old saying about the "only poll that really counts ..."?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PPP: U.S. Senate Candidates "Running in Place"

I could almost copy and paste from older blog posts to write this one.

One again, there was a new poll in New Mexico  by Public Policy Polling, a company openly sympathetic with  the Democratic Party, though their results don't always favor the Dems and they have a good track record for accuracy.

Once again, the PPP poll shows Martin Heinrich, the Democrat, beating Republican Heather Wilson by a small margin. 48 percent polled favored Heinrich, 43 percent said they'd vote for WIlson. Those percentages are the same as the last PPP poll in April.

And once again, the Wilson campaign is complaining that the poll is skewed because Democrats were "oversampled" in the survey.

The firm surveyed 724 New Mexico voters in automated phone interviews between Friday and Monday. The margin of error is 3.66 percent, PPP says.

One interesting find: Both candidates are in negative territory in favorability  ratings. 39 percent have a favorable opinion of Heinrich, but 40 have a negative opinion. With Wilson, the numbers are 38 percent favorable and 49 percent unfavorable.

But besides the Senate race, the company released the first public numbers on the 2014 gubernatorial campaign -- and those numbers look good for incumbent Republican Susana Martinez.

Despite all those news stories about the private emails, etc., the poll shows the governor with a 56 percent approval rating with 34 percent disapproving.

Attorney General Gary King, the only announced Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, has a 30 percent approval number with 34 percent disapproving.

State Auditor Hector Balderas -- who some Democrats have touted as a possible candidate -- had ratings of  34 percent approving, 20 percent disapproving.

According to the poll, Martinez would beat King 51 percent-39 percent and would defeat Balderas 50 percent - 37 percent.

UPDATED: 5:43 pm I screwed up the favorability ratings of King and Balderas in the original version of this post. The above text has been corrected. (Thank, Sterling F.) 

Heinrich Builds New Campaign Ad

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Martin Heinrich has just released his first ad since the primary (All those "Heather is poisoning the children" ads are the work of environmental groups, not the Heinrich campaign.)

Like Heinrich's ads in the primary, and for that matter, Heather Wilson's initial ad released a few weeks ago, it's a positive one. Heinrich's hammering nails and helping some lucky family build a house.

Here's the transcript:

I’ve always enjoyed building things. I built an electric motor growing up, a solar car in college.
I’m running for the Senate to help build better lives for the hard-working people of New Mexico.
I know how hard my family had to work to get by. And I see those same struggles with too many families today.
That’s why on City Council I raised the minimum wage.
I’m holding job fairs to connect workers with local employers and I’m fighting to cut taxes for small businesses.
I’m Martin Heinrich and I approve this message because I believe in the dignity of work.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Governor to be Subpoenaed?

A version of this will be published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
July 17 2012

The lawyer representing a former state parole official in a wrongful termination case said Monday that he will subpoena Gov. Susana Martinez to testify after receiving a copy of an email he said shows Martinez had a role in firing the classified state employee.

Gov. Martinez
But when asked about the possible subpoena Monday, Martinez denied having anything to do with the decision to fire probation and parole supervisor Larry Flynn and said she’d never received the email obtained Sunday by Flynn’s lawyer, Sam Bregman.

“I know nothing about the Flynn case except that he was fired … [for] shooting rattlesnakes under dog houses,” Martinez said. “As far as the decision being made by me, absolutely not. It was not made by me for him to be fired.”

Flynn was fired in December, about three months after an incident in which he allegedly fired a gun outside of the home on state penitentiary grounds that he shared with former Corrections Secretary Lupe Martinez.

Last week, a judge ruled that Martinez’s chief of staff, Keith Gardner, will have to answer questions about Flynn’s firing. The Governor’s Office had tried to quash that subpoena.

Martinez on Monday didn't directly answer the question of whether she also would fight a subpoena. “I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to say,” she said.

The email in question is from Deputy Chief of Staff Ryan Cangiolosi, sent from his Yahoo account to Martinez, at her susana2010.com address and copied to Gardner at his Gmail account.

The email is dated Sept. 5 — two days after Lupe Martinez abruptly resigned from her $106,000-a-year job and less than two months before Flynn was charged by state police with two misdemeanors related to the shooting incident. Both charges later were dropped.

“Governor, Please see the attached document brief on Larry Flynn,”  wrote Cangiolosi. Attached was a memo from Rosa Manning of the State Police Criminal Investigations Division to Police Chief Robert Shilling, stating, “Per your request, investigative research was conducted on Larry E. Flynn, [listed Flynn’s date of birth].”

The report lists other personal information on Flynn, including court cases involving Flynn, vehicle registrations and Internet links to news stories about Flynn.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican

Roundhouse Roundup: 2014 Gets Closer

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 15, 2012 

 We’ve hardly had time to get sick of the 2012 election — and last week, the 2014 campaign came bucking out of the chute.

Gary King
Well, that rodeo metaphor probably is overstating it. But the fact is, Attorney General Gary King announced — well, admitted — that he’s running for governor of the great state of New Mexico. He wants to be the Democratic Party nominee to run against Republican incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez.

Some pundits basically have said that that King blew it by announcing his candidacy the way he did — during a radio interview (a public radio station, no less) during July, a time when only the most severe political junkies are paying attention. I’ll give him a pass on this, however. King told me Tuesday that he wasn’t planning to announce that day. He said KANW radio reporter Mark Bentley asked him whether he was going to run, and he just told the truth.

I guess King could have done the coy dance with Bentley — and every other reporter who asked during the next several months — and later announced with a big speech in front of cheering supporters, balloons and streamers. But don’t we all say that we like when a politician just tells us what’s going on instead of leading us on?

Some of her critics would say that even though Martinez hasn’t formally announced she’s seeking re-election, in reality she’s been running since she was inaugurated. In fact, last year, just a couple of months after she was sworn in, her campaign committee argued that it was now serving as Martinez’s re-election committee. This came about during the controversy about her 2010 campaign paying for radio ads about driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.

But, speaking of pundits, King’s announcement, however it was made, was not exactly met with “glory hallelujahs,” being that King, at least at this faraway point, is a long shot when it comes to defeating Martinez. Part of that is that Martinez still is a popular governor. But another factor is King’s tenure as attorney general.

Even a couple of popular state bloggers, who often don’t agree on much, seem to agree on this.

Joe Monahan, probably after consulting his alligators, wrote last week, “King, frowned at by his critics who view him as forlorn and foundering, is the only state Dem leader showing the least bit of intestinal fortitude in publicly taking on an ever more controversial GOP administration. That matters.”

However, Monahan added, “King has been severely damaged by his AG performance and left for political roadkill by the chattering classes. It is essential that he show them that he has learned something and that there is more to him than a folksy personality.”

Heath Haussamen, an online journalist in Las Cruces, was even more harsh. “King certainly has his supporters. But, time and again, King has disappointed those in the Democratic Party who believe it needs reform. Many Democrats see a candidate who isn’t electable. … With his record — or lack thereof — as AG, King has handed Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and her political adviser, Jay McCleskey, lots to hammer him with in TV ads.”

My prediction is that if Martinez’s approval numbers stay high through the next year or so, King’s chances of getting the Democratic nomination will increase — simply because other well-known Democrats will back away from the governor’s race. The last two times an incumbent ran — I’m talking about Bill Richardson and Gary Johnson — they were re-elected by big margins.

So, someone like State Auditor Hector Balderas, who has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial contender, might decide that he’d have a much better chance going for attorney general and wait until 2018 to make his move for governor.

But wait a minute, we haven’t even had time to get sick of the 2014 election, and here I am talking about 2018.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Senate Debates

Republican Heather Wilson's campaign announced this morning that Wilson has accepted three debate invitations from Albuquerque TV stations.

UPDATED 4:26 pm. Democrat Martin Heinrich also has agreed to these three debates, plus another in Las Cruces, a campaign spokeswoman said.

* The KRQE (Channel 13) debate will be held Thursday, October 11 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the KRQE studios.  

* The KOAT (Channel 7) -Albuquerque Journal debate will be held Sunday, October 21 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the KOAT-7 studios. 

 * The KOB (Channel 4) debate will be held Thursday, October 25 from 7 to 8 p.m. at a public venue to be determined.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Both Senate Candidates Raise More Than a Million in Last quarter.

Republican Heather Wilson raised $1.6 million in the last quarter (April through June) , while Democrat Martin Heinrich raised $1.4 million.

The Wilson campaign claims this as a victory, noting correctly that Wilson also raised more in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the Heinrich campaign is spinning the latest campaign finance reports another way. Heinrich actually has more money in the bank -- $1.8 million cash on hand compared with Wilson's $1.6 million. And that's despite Heinrich having a competitive primary and Wilson having a fairly easy primary.

Either way, both candidates have plenty of money and a lot more will be pouring in to both from the national parties and independent interest groups.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

SOS Wants Fed Help to Find Non-Citizen Voters

Secretary of State Dianna Duran this week joined with Republican elections officials from several other states in asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help ensure that noncitizens aren’t on voting rolls.
SOS Dianna Duran campaiging in 2010

The request comes just months after Duran’s office reported that a lengthy investigation here found evidence that a handful of noncitizens had cast ballots in New Mexico.

Viki Harrison, executive director of New Mexico Common Cause, when told about a possible new effort to look for non-citizens on voting rolls, said Wednesday, “I think the real crisis in voting is that 50 percent of New Mexicans who are eligible to vote are not registered. And we’re worried about things like this?” She added that voter fraud already is a felony and those who commit it should be prosecuted.

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler on Monday wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday, asking the agency to help verify the citizenship status of about 5,000 Colorado voters.

Gessler’s letter said that nine secretaries of state — including Duran — and two lieutenant governors from states where that post oversees elections “share this approach and expect to request” similar agreements with the agency.

Duran’s office on Wednesday verified that she supports Gessler’s effort and provided a reporter with the July 6 letter she sent to to Gessler.

In that letter Duran wrote:

 “The New Mexico Secretary of State’s office has recently undertaken similar efforts to ensure the accuracy of New Mexico’s voter rolls; however, without a reliable means to determine citizenship, we have been unable to determine if registered voters in New Mexico were in fact citizens and eligible to vote. ... I support this initiative and stand ready to participate with any efforts in coordinating access to federal databases that contain accurate and reliable information that will assist us in our statutorily mandated duties.”

Both Gessler and Duran want to access Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification and Entitlement database, to match against state voter rolls.

More on this in today's New Mexican.

UPDATE: Below is a copy of Duran's letter to Gessler. Gessler's letter to Napolitano is HERE (Thank you Denver Post)

762012 Duran Gessler Letter

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sen. Michael Sanchez Hospitalized

I just got this email saying Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez was hospitalize yesterday for a blocked artery procedure.

He's expected to be released tomorrow.

Here's the message from the Senate Majority Office:

 “Sen. Sanchez is resting comfortably following a medical procedure that took place yesterday to clear a blocked artery. Doctors expect him to make a complete recovery. It is anticipated that he will be released from Presbyterian Hospital tomorrow, July 12, 2012. Although he is anxious to be discharged, he is in good spirits. He and his family would like to thank the many friends and colleagues who have reached out and assure them he is doing well. ”

Get well, senator.

Obama, Heinrich Lead in New Poll

An Illinois-based polling company called We Ask America released a new poll today showing that President Obama has a double-digit lead over Republican Mitt Romney in the race for New Mexico's five electoral votes. Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll. Nine percent are undecided.

The same poll shows Democrat Martin Heinrich with a nine point lead over Republican Heather Wilson -- 51 percent to 42 percent. Seven percent are undecided in this race, according to the poll.

The presidential poll is generally in line with other recent polls in New Mexico. A late April poll by Democratic-leaning company Public Policy Polling showed Obama with with a 14 point lead over Romney .

However, the Senate poll by We Ask America has Heinrich with a significantly stronger lead over Wilson than he has had in other polls. The April PPP survey showed Heinrich with just a five point lead over Wilson.

We Asked America conducted this automated poll Monday and Tuesday. A total of 1,227 "likely voters" were surveyed. The margin of error is 2.8 percent.

The company apparently determined who was a "likely" voter by asking about their intention to vote. According to the web post:

"As in all of the series of states we’re polling by automated means, after qualifying each individual in regards to ability (registered) and intention to vote this fall, we asked the following straightforward questions: If the election for president were held today, for whom would you vote and If the election for U.S. Senator were held today, for whom would you vote?"
We Ask America is a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. For more information on that company, check out this article in the Springfield State Journal-Register.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gary King is Running For Governor

Update: Wednesday: My story in today's New Mexican, including King's response, is HERE.

Attorney General Gary King, long talked about as a potential candidate for governor, is now saying he will indeed run for governor in 2014.

In an interview on Albuquerque radio station KANW Monday, King said he's decided to run for the Democratic nomination and has formed a campaign committee.
Attorney General Gary King
Gary King Talks to State Democrats Last Year

King, serving his second term as attorney general.  is a former state representative. He's also the son of New Mexico’s longest-serving governor, the late Bruce King, who served three non-consecutive four-year terms between 1971 and 1994.

King is the first Democrat to say he's running. Assumedly the Republican nominee will be Gov. Susana Martinez, who is serving her first term as governor.

Martinez hasn't formally announced she's seeking re-election. But last year, during a controversy about her 2010 campaign committee paying for radio ads about driver's licenses for  illegal immigrants, her campaign committee argued that it now serves as Martinez's re-election committee. The committee argued that "... radio spots to promote the governor's issues and ideas and that the promotion of such issues and ideas are standard campaign activity."

This will be the third time Gary King has sought the governor's office. He ran in 1998, losing the Democratic primary to Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. Four years later he tried again, but dropped out of the race before the primary after a poor showing against Bill Richardson in the pre-primary convention and difficulty with findraising..

Gary King also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004 against Republican incumbent Steve Pearce in the southern 2nd Congressional District.

King and Martinez  recently have been feuding over the use of private email for state business. King's office recently has been investigating Martinez's Public Education Department over the practice and for compiling lists for Martinez's political director.

The state Republican Party has blasted the attorney general as "King of  Hypocrisy" for using his campaign email to communicate with a campaign contributor about an official legal opinion being sought.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Roundhouse Roundup: Political Ads: Demise or Salvation for Public Radio?

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
July 8, 2012

Will public radio and television soon cease to be an oasis from the sound and fury of political advertising?

It’s quite possible, though thankfully nothing’s likely to change before this election. And the local public radio station has assured its listeners that despite the temptations of filthy lucre from the politicos, KSFR will not accept political ads even if the practice becomes legal.
The future face of public broadcasting?

Last April a three-judge federal Appeals Court panel in San Francisco struck down as unconstitutional the decades-long ban on political ads on public broadcasting outlets. On June 29, the U.S. Department of Justice requested the appeals court rehear the case, saying the April decision “threatens the noncommercial, educational character of public broadcasting.”

KSFR and KPBS, a San Diego TV station, are the only two public broadcast stations across the country I could find that have created a policy against accepting political ads.

“It is a time-honored tradition of public broadcasting to be independent of controversial, one-sided advertising,” KSFR’s board said in a statement shortly after the court decision. “At KSFR News, especially, our editorial position is to be as objective as humanly possible. … The board and staff remain committed to keeping Santa Fe public radio safe and secure from the manipulations of outside interests so that we may continue to serve the public interest.”

(Full disclosure upfront: I’ve been a volunteer with KSFR for nearly 20 years. For most of that time, I’ve produced two weekly music shows. (THIS and THIS) I don’t even know most of the station’s board members and I am not paid for my work there.)

KSFR’s news director, Bill Dupuy, was on the air Thursday afternoon during the station’s fundraiser using the station’s stance as a fundraising talking point. This raised a lot of positive comments from donors, Dupuy said later, including an email from a listener who wrote, “I support KSFR’s position on this issue entirely. I have just put my own money where my mouth is, so to speak, by pledging to KSFR for the first time.”

“It sets a bad precedent,” Dupuy said. “It could undermine the whole idea of public radio.”

Richard Towne, general manager of KUNM radio in Albuquerque, agreed. He said Thursday that while his station hasn’t taken an official stand on the court ruling, “I don’t think anyone in noncommercial [broadcasting] wants to see this happen,” he said. “It would fundamentally change our sound.”

Both Towne and Dupuy expressed concern that a lift on the political ad ban might mean stations would be required to accept ads from candidates. Proponents of the idea could argue that denying someone’s ad would be contrary to free speech. Robin Hagen Cane, writing in a blog at Findlaw.com last week, doesn’t think so, however.

“Public broadcasting stations would not be required to take political ad revenue under the ruling, but stations that are struggling would probably be tempted,” Cane wrote.

Indeed, getting a share of the political ad pile could mean big cash bucks for a public station. Cane quoted Laura Martin, an entertainment and Internet analyst for New York investment bank Needham & Co., who told the Boston Globe that spending on political ads on local television stations alone could reach $3.2 billion this year.

That’s a lot of tote bags.

The Globe in April quoted a consultant for the Democratic Party saying public radio advertising could be great for liberal and moderate candidates in radio markets dominated by conservative talk shows. It would be “better than Christmas, better than winning the lottery,’’ consultant Michael Goldman said, because public-radio audiences generally favor Democrats.

I guess one way for listeners and viewers to fight back against stations that start running political ads: During the next fund drive, instead of pledging money, pledge to vote against any candidate who advertises on your favorite public station.

Friday, July 6, 2012

King Claims Intimidation by GOP

Attorney General Gary King told reporters today that he believes the state Republican party is trying to "intimidate" him with a recent public records request, perhaps so he'll back off of an investigation of possible violations of the state Government Conduct Act.

That investigation is in response to a request by two Democratic legislators concerning a May 2 email sent from a Public Education Department spokesman’s private email account to Martinez’s political director Jay McCleskey and several administration officials on personal email accounts.

Here's what King said today:

UPDATED 5:13 pm. As he says in the video, King responded to the GOP request and delivered some emails. But he said he would need more time to go through his personal email (since January 2010) to see which ones might involve state business.He said he'd produce any of those within 45 days.

Here's a statement by State Republican Party Chairman Monty Newman:

“The Attorney General’s letter shows that there is no consensus among the branches of government on just what the rules are concerning private email accounts. The Attorney General cannot say whether or not his private emails concern public business. This points up the need for a legislative and regulation fix looking forward. ”

There will be more on this in Saturday's New Mexican.

Monday, July 2, 2012

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Waiting on Wapner & Other Tidbits

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 24 2012

Following the Supreme Court’s decision on Obama’s health care reform Thursday, former Gov. Gary Johnson, now running for president of these United States on the Libertarian ticket, tweeted, “If [Mitt Romney] is elected, says he would give us [Supreme Court] Justices like John Roberts. I will give us Justices like @Judgenap.”

For those not fluent in Twitterese, @Judgenap is the Twitter handle of Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge who is a legal analyst for Fox News. Napolitano has strong libertarian views, describing himself as “the Ayn Rand of Fox News.” He hosted a show called Freedom Watch on Fox Business Network for a few years.

Personally, I’m waiting for the candidate who will give us Supreme Court justice like Judge Wapner.

Speaking of Johnson: The former Republican governor, who switched his party registration from Republican to Libertarian early this year, won’t be attending August’s GOP convention in Tampa this year. However, this week organizers of what is being called “The Ron Paul Festival” announced that Johnson will be speaking at the shindig, which takes place in Tampa right before the Republicans convene there. The man whom the festival is named for, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, also is speaking.

The event’s website says The Ron Paul Festival will feature “Music, Entertainment and Activism.” I have to admit, I’d never heard of any of the bands scheduled to play at the festival. But I do like their slogan: “Unite for Freedom and Party Like It’s 1976.”

Johnson spoke at a similar event for Paul and his supporters before the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota. But I can’t help but think this might be a little bittersweet for Johnson. Early last year he was hoping to be Paul’s heir as the Republican Party’s champion of libertarianism.

But that hope was crushed when Paul himself announced he was running for the Republican nomination just days after Johnson made his announcement that he was seeking the GOP nomination.

I doubt if Johnson is counting on Paul’s endorsement. But there will be thousands of Paul supporters there who could be receptive to Johnson’s message.

Conventional wisdom: So Johnson is going to Tampa next month, but Heather Wilson isn’t.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill made lots of headlines recently and got the chattering class chattering about the fact that she’s skipping the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. And now Republican Senate candidate Heather Wilson has made the same choice for her party’s convention.

“Wilson spokesman Chris Sanchez said that the former congresswoman does not plan to attend the convention in August and will be campaigning in New Mexico at the time,” the National Journal reported Wednesday.

McCaskill is facing re-election in a state where President Barack Obama isn’t very popular. Wilson is running in New Mexico, where Obama is way ahead in the polls. Coincidence?

That’s why Wilson, who veered right in the primary, especially when Lt. Gov. John Sanchez was still in the race challenging her conservative credentials, currently is stressing her “independence” in her general election campaign.

New conservative website: Check out the new site called New Mexico WhoSaidYouSaid.

“We want to aggregate, promote and produce key video on New Mexico politics,” said Tom Intorcio of Denver, who was in New Mexico last week to announce the project and recruit videographers and writers for the site.

He’s with a Colorado version of WhoSaidYouSaid, which has been operating since 2009. The focus of that site is “fiscal responsibility and free enterprise,” Intorcio said. That’s the plan for New Mexico, too, though, at least as of the middle of the week, not all the stories on the site had an obvious partisan slant.

Intorcio was a field director for Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign and has worked for the National Conference of State Legislatures.