Wednesday, November 27, 2013

More Would-Be Dem Lt. Govs.

Marie Q. Julienne
Yesterday I blogged that Debra Haaland was the only Democrat so far was the only Democrat running for lieutenant governor.

Apparently, I was wrong.

A local Dem official this morning directed me to the county party's website, where down in the right-hand corner, two other candidates are listed. (You have to scroll down a little.)

These are Marie Q Julienne and Peter Zollinger. Like Haaland, neither Julienne nor Zollinger have contacted me or, as far as I know, other political reporters.

Except for his listing on the party website, I can't find any internet traces of a Zollinger candidacy. Julienne however, has a Facebook page called Marie Q. Julienne for Lt Governor 2014. It says she's "officially announced."

According to the page, she's:

an institutional researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Mexico. Her research interests include the critical examination of public education institutional structures, processes, and policies that impact educational pathways for underrepresented groups. Topics concerning tribal education and the social and political implications of technology are also of special interest. 

A graduate of the Emerge 2013 class, Marie is a strong, intelligent and accomplished single mother of two daughters (Sa'angna "Ana," 12, and Jasmine Uchme, 13) with strong ties to the Native American community. She lives in Albuquerque's EDO (East Downtown) and is a marathon runner who enjoys morning runs on the Bosque trail.

I probably should mention that Santa Fe candymaker Chuck Higgins, who in January announced he was running for the lieutenant governor's job as a Democrat, has since decided not to run.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lucky Wants Just Two More Years

State Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela, D-Santa Fe just told me that he's seeking re-election -- which he had said several months ago, but added and said this would be his final term.

"I've been there 28 years," he said. "Serving 30 years would be good."

Assuming he wins, it would be his 15th term in the House representing District 48.

It could be an important term for Varela. He's currently the deputy chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and the current current, Rep. Henry "Kiki" Saavedra, D-Albuquerque isn't seeking re-election. The speaker of the House makes all committee appointments in that chamber.

So far no opponent in either the primary or the general election have emerged.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Candidate to Announce

Debra Haaland, a longtime activist in the state Democratic Party who currently serves as chairwoman of the state party's Native American Caucus, is running for lieutenant governor. And she's already touting a bunch of endorsements.

An email to potential supporters as well as a campaign Facebook page quotes Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez saying he and his wife are supporting her:

“Lynn and I are pleased to pledge our support for Democrat Debra Haaland for Lt. Governor of New Mexico. Debra has worked hard for the people of New Mexico, the Democratic Party, and will be an asset in the 2014 gubernatorial race. As a Native American, she will bring a fresh, new perspective to the office of Lt. Governor.”

Her Facebook page also lists former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris as well as state senators Tim Keller and Jacob Candelaria as supporters.

Haaland is the only Democratic candidate so far for the position. Incumbent Lt. Gov. John Sanchez has said he'll seek reelection. 

According to a bio sent to Democrats, Haaland, an enrolled member of Laguna Pueblo, is chairwoman of Laguna Development Corp. She's also worked as tribal administrator for San Felipe Pueblo. She also worked as Native American vote director for the Obama campaign last year.

Haaland will formally announce her intention to seek the Democratic Nomination on Tuesday, December 10th at the Pueblo of Laguna. The campaign will host a press conference and reception at Route 66 Casino starting at 6 PM.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Corwin Writes About Campaign Investigations for Trade Publication

Michael Corwin, the private investigator who has worked as an investigator for several state Democrats, including former Gov. Bill Richardson, hasn't been in the news much since his Independent Source PAC went inactive a few months ago.

But one thing that's kept him busy for at least part of that time is writing an article for a national magazine. No, not True DetectiveCorwin just published in Professional Investigator, a trade publication for his profession.

His story, "Creating a Specialty: Investigating for Political Candidates" talks about the often misunderstood role of private investigators in campaigns. "The reality is that the leaders of some campaigns worry about what their opponents will do when they learn that a private investigator is performing their research," he writes."

But, Corwin says, "I have yet to lose a single race that I worked on where the opponent tried to make an issue out of the hiring of a professional investigator."

In the article, Corwin -- without actually naming the candidates -- writes about his work for Ben Ray Lujan's first Congressional race, in which Lujan's main primary opponent was Santa Fe developer Don Wiviott. In that contest, Corwin turned up some old dirt on the opposition, which Corwin said helped turn the race for his candidate. Though Wiviott criticized Lujan for hiring a private eye, according to Corwin, the Wiviott campaign paid an out-of-state "opposition research" company that cost  several times what Corwin charged Lujan.

You can read the article below:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Roundhouse Roundup: Ironic That Abortion Issue Sunk Janice Arnold-Jones

Republican Janice Arnold-Jones lost a close Albuquerque City Council race Tuesday. And one of the major reasons for that defeat — the abortion issue — strikes me as ironic. During her years in the Roundhouse, she never really was known as a social conservative.
Arnold-Jones in her outlaw webcasting days

Jones served eight years in the state House of Representatives. And she was highly regarded by the Capitol press corps. She’s smart and accessible. She had a real independent streak. She once voted against her own GOP floor leader for House speaker. She was one of a handful of Republicans to vote to repeal the death penalty.

And, on the government transparency front, she became known for an outright act of rebellion — using her own laptop computer to live-stream meetings of committees on which she served and doing so without seeking official permission. This helped open the floodgates. Four years later, we all take for granted legislative webcasting and the fact people no longer have to travel to the Capitol to watch their elected officials make laws.

But webcasting at the Roundhouse probably wasn't on the minds of Albuquerque voters last week. ...

For the rest of this column go to The New Mexican's website

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dendahl Memorial Service Set

Dendahl in 2006
A memorial service for former state Republican Party Chairman John Dendahl have been scheduled for Friday Nov. 29.

Debra Hadley, one of Dendahl's daughters, said the service would be at 2 p.m at The Great Hall at Peterson Student Center at St. John's College.

Dendahl, a Santa Fe native who had been living near Denver for several years, died Nov. 9 from complications from treatments for leukemia. He was 75.

He was GOP chairman for about 10 years beginning in 1994. He was the Republican nominee for governor in 2006.

National Journal Looks at "The Fifth Floor"

The one story that's going to be dominating political conversations in New Mexico for the next few days is the National Journal's profile of Gov. Susana Martinez's political consultant Jay McCleskey.

The headline of the lengthy piece is direct: The Man Who Discovered Susana Martinez Could Also Be Her Downfall.

In the article, writer Daniel Libit writes about several state controversies involving McCleskey -- the Downs at Albuquerque deal, complaints by former state GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, the divisive 2012 GOP state Senate race in Clovis, and in general, McCleskey's influential role in the administration.

It's one of the only national stories concerning Martinez that has been  anything less than flattering. After cataloguing some of the praise Martinez has received in the national press, Libit writes:

But back home, some of her key allies were finding that courage in short supply. They had begun to see Martinez not as a fresh-faced technocrat, but as a callow figure who had placed far too much trust in a single political aide, the 39-year-old McCleskey, whom many here view as the "Karl Rove of New Mexico." Yes, he discovered her and transformed her from a county district attorney into a national force. But these Martinez allies say that his mercenary, dog-eat-dog style of politics now superseded the act of governing, and that he had effectively walled off any other voices from pricking the governor's eardrums, let alone her conscience. 

McCleskey responds in the story:

"As is the job of any political consultant, my role is not to be loved, but rather to be effective at winning campaigns and garnering support for the policies pursued by those who have been elected," McCleskey says. "I am proud of that record of success, and the petty whining, sniping, and resentment of malcontents doesn't bother me. ... Any leader who breaks the mold and challenges the status quo, like Governor Martinez does, will face criticism, even from within her own party."

One Martinez loyalist already has trashed Libit as a "liberal columnist" who merely reprinted Martinez critic Joe Monahan's "tired blog material."

But libertarian Republican Aaron Henry Diaz tweeted a link to the article saying, "Think you know New Mexico politics? So it begins... the rest of the story."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rael Makes It Official

Lawrence Rael
Last week Lawrence Rael told me he would soon be announcing that he's running for governor. He made good on that this morning.

Rael became the fifth Democrat to enter next June's primary when party members will decide who should take on incumbent Republican Susana Martinez in the 2014 general election.

Rael, 55, resigned in October as executive director of the federal Farm Service Agency in New Mexico. Previously he served as the executive director for the Mid-Region Council of Governments for eight years -- a job in which he helped start the Railrunner railroad line between Santa Fe and Belen. He also worked 12 years as chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque.

"I get things done," Rael said today.

In 2010 he finished second in a field of five in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, placing behind former state party chairman Brian Colon. "I barely lost that race," Rael said. "People remember that campaign. I have people from all around the state who are supportive."

As he has been with several other Democratic challengers, Gov. Susana Martinez's political spokesman was quick to have a statement about Rael.

"Gov. Martinez has worked in a bipartisan manner to pass meaningful reform legislation. ..." said Danny Diaz. "We are confident New Mexicans would rather have a results-oriented former prosecutor serving as their governor than a lobbyist and partisan like Lawrence Rael who would take the state backward.”

Other Democratic candidates for governor include Attorney General Gary King; state senators Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Howie Morales of Silver City; and Santa Fe author and consultant Alan Webber.

Monday, November 18, 2013

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: There Oughtta Be a Law ...

Much of the time when a new problem pops up in society, the simplest way for our political system to deal with it is simply to make it illegal. Never mind that this type of knee-jerk mentality tends to clog the courthouse and fill the jails.

That’s one reason why a subcommittee of eight legislators soon will begin the task of rewriting the state’s criminal code, which has been amended piecemeal over the years. This, some lawmakers say, has led to inconsistent, sometimes unfair penalties.

As explained to me recently by the co-chairwoman of this group, Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, one of the tasks of the subcommittee will be to find laws on the books that are obsolete, unnecessary or just plain weird. (That’s my characterization, not the senator’s.) Many of these are misdemeanors, which means there’s little if any jail time involved. But as Torraco pointed out, technically, someone could serve more jail time for a “silly” crime than for a first-time drunken-driving offence.

Read more, including a few words on the state's valient effort to protect children from obscene drive-in movies, on The New Mexican's site

Friday, November 15, 2013

Watch Me on In Focus Tonight

Once again, I'm a guest panelist on The Line segment on KNME's New Mexico In Focus. I'll be discussing current issues along with host Gene Grant, former state Rep. Dan Foley, University of New Mexico political scientist Lonna Atkeson and Associated Press reporter Jeri Clausing.

I don't want to give away anything, but look out for a short clip featuring one of my appearances on the show circa 2006.

That's tonight at 7 pm on KNME, Channel 5 and repeating 7 am (!) Sunday.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lawrence Rael: "I'm Going to Announce"

I had a quick chat with Lawrence Rael today and he confirmed that he will soon be announcing his candidacy for governor.

“I’m going to announce,” Rael -- a Democrat and longtime government administrator who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010 -- said. “We’re heading in that direction. It will be pretty soon. I’m just making calls and talking to people.”

Rael, 55, last month resigned as executive director of the federal Farm Service Agency in New Mexico. Previously he served as the executive director for the Mid-Region Council of Governments for eight years and worked 12 years as chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque.

In 2010 he finished second in a field of five in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, placing behind former state party chairman Brian Colon.

Rael will join what's evolving into a large field of Democratic candidates for governor next year. Announced candidates include Attorney General Gary King; state senators Linda Lopez of Albuquerque and Howie Morales of Silver City; and Santa Fe author and consultant Alan Webber.

The winner will face incumbent Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who is not expected to have a primary opponent.

Rael was born in Santa Fe and raised in rural Sile, N.M. He currently lives in Los Ranchos near Albuquerque with his wife Kim Rael and their three children.

The Race Is On in House District 50

Matthew McQueen
Matthew McQueen, a 46-year-old lawyer from Galisteo who has been involved in various environmental and community groups, announced today that he's running for the Democratic nomination for the House District 50 seat.

In his announcement news release, McQueen took a swipe at Republican Vickie Perea, who Gov. Susana Martinez recently appointed to fill out the term of the late Rep. Stephen Easley, a Democrat.

"Despite the governor's decision to appoint a right-wing politician that is more in line with her own agenda than the district's values, I am ready to offer the residents of House District 50 the independent leadership that they have consistently chosen in the past," he said.

He promised to "provide the residents of House District 50 with an independent voice equal to that of the late Rep. Stephen Easley ..."

McQueen had applied for the vacant House seat after Easley's death. However, the Santa Fe County Commission instead nominated another applicant, Ann Jenkins, a Democrat from Eldorado who is a retired information manager for a pharmaceutical company. Jenkins, who also was nominated by the Bernalillo County Commission, said at the time she might run for the House seat even if Martinez didn't chose her.

Currently, McQueen serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, the Galisteo Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association, and the Galisteo Community Association.

He has previously served on the Santa Fe River Commission, the Bureau of Land Management Resource Advisory Council, the Santa Fe County Open Land, Trails & Parks Advisory Committee, and the Galisteo Community Planning Committee.

McQueen lives with his wife, Caroline Seigel, in the village of Galisteo.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.

Updated 2:05 pm An earlier version of this post misstated McQueen's age.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP; Spilt Milk and Backpay

(I'm late posting this. I was off yesterday.)

Just a few days, a state employees union, on its website and on fliers, was saying that the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez was “crying over spilt milk” and encouraging members to send letters to the governor demanding she “show us the money!”

But by the end of the week, a union spokesman was sounding more conciliatory and was expressing optimism that back pay for a long-promised raise could be coming soon.

“We’ve dropped that line about the spilled milk,” Miles Conway, a spokesman for the America Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Thursday.

It’s hard to say exactly when the milk was spilled, but the issue goes back to the second term of Martinez’s predecessor, Bill Richardson, who didn’t follow union contracts in distributing money provided by the Legislature for raises for thousands of state employees.

For more, go to the full version on The Santa Fe New Mexican's site.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

R.I.P. John Dendahl

Dendahl in 2006
John Dendahl was a reporter's dream. The former state Republican Party chairman always was friendly and had a great sense of humor. He always returned reporters' phone calls and he always had something interesting, often provocative, to say.

Dendahl died this morning in a Colorado hospital from complications from treatments for leukemia. His widow Jackie Dendahl said he'd been in the hospital for a month. He was 75.

He ran for governor in 1994 but lost to political newcomer Gary Johnson, who went on to win the general election that year. That same year Dendahl was elected as state Republican Party chairman, a position he held until 2003.

Toward the end of Johnson's administration, Dendahl publicly agreed with the governor's position that the drug war had been a failure and that marijuana should be legalized. This angered many members of his party including the then-powerful U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, who initially called for Dendahl's resignation.

Though Dendahl lost his final bid for the party chairmanship, in 2006 he became the GOP's candidate for governor against incumbent Bill Richardson after Dr. J.R. Damron of Santa Fe, who'd won the Republican primary, stepped down.

At that point Richardson was very popular, however, and Dendahl had a hard time raising money. He lost in a landslide.

Not long after that election, he and his wife moved to Colorado. He continued his interest in politics, writing columns and letters to the editor.

Jackie Dendahl said he recently had been helping Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman from Colorado who is running for governor.

Political consultant Jay McCleskey, who served as executive director of the state GOP during part of Dendahl's tenure as chairman, said in statement, "John Dendahl was a unique person who was as tenacious in politics, as he was competing as an Olympic skier and deserves a lot of credit for helping end one-party dominance in the state. For as tough as he was in political debates and campaigns, I knew him as a warm man who truly cared about people and almost always had a smile on his face. He will be missed."

Earl Potter of Santa Fe, who was state chairman of the Democratic Party during Dendahl's early years as GOP chairman said he was saddened by Dendahl's death. "He knew how to insult without being offensive," Potter said. "He knew how to make people mad, but on a personal level, he was extremely gracious." Hearing of Dendahl's death, Potter said, "makes me homesick for the day when parties could fight in public, then come together on important issues."

The current state GOP chairman John Billingsley issued a statement saying, “Dendahl advocated for conservative principles and was a strong leader for our Party during his time of service. As a former athlete and competitor, he carried his competitive spirit throughout his leadership role with the Party, working hard to make positive changes. He was known for boldly expressing his convictions and standing for what he believed was right. During his time as Chairman, he worked hard to combat the corruption that existed within individuals within our state government at the time, successfully lead and grew the Party, and left a lasting legacy here in the state of New Mexico.”

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Did Orrin Hatch Read My Story Today?

Sen. Orrin Hatch
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is the latest to tout the Chris Christie/Susana Martinez "dream ticket" for 2016, a political meme that I wrote about in today's New Mexican.

In a story in The Politico, today Hatch said, “I think that the man really is an exceptionally tough, smart, good conservative who literally appeals across the board, which is what the Republicans need to have. And let’s face it, Susana Martinez has a lot of qualities that would help a lot of people to understand that the Republican Party is a broad base party.”

As I pointed out in my story, there has been a lot of talk in the national chatter class since Gov. Martinez went to New Jersey Monday to campaign for Christie. I wouldn't be surprised if the Christie/Martinez idea intensifies considering Christie won 51 percent of the Hispanic vote in New Jersey in his landslide victory last night. (I don't think Martinez can take full credit for that, but her appearances Monday couldn't have hurt in that area.)

But a word of caution: President Giuliani hadn't chosen a running mate at this point before the 2008 election.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Two Behavioral Health Providers Get Funding Restored

Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier
(See below the Human Services release)

 In the latest development in the behavioral health shakeup, the state has agreed to restore Medicaid funding to two New Mexico providers under investigation. 

Here's the press release from the state. . 

Santa Fe – Today, the New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) announced the release of two additional Medicaid pay-holds to agencies audited by the State earlier this year.  Both agencies are severing ties with TeamBuilders and its various corporate and non-profit affiliates and will together agree to repay $4,240,000 in behavioral health funding alleged to have been improperly billed to the Medicaid system.  

Presbyterian Medical Services (PMS) and Youth Development, Inc. (YDI) received the lift on their pay-holds after agreeing to pay back overpayment amounts found by a recent audit of behavioral health companies in New Mexico.  PMS will repay $4,000,000 and YDI will repay $240,000.  PMS and YDI will also be subject to intensive new training and oversight of its management until billing and management systems are fully operational and determined to be sound.  

Each of the companies will continue to provide behavioral health services to their clients, though Valle del Sol will provide temporary oversight of YDI and La Frontera will provide temporary oversight of PMS.  Among other tasks, Valle del Sol and La Frontera will train and provide technical assistance to staff members at each company, ensure program compliance with state and federal laws and rules, require accurate and timely billing (including pre-submission review of claims), and assist in developing new performance measures.    

“We have a responsibility to protect taxpayer dollars and to ensure that consumers are receiving continued access to care. This is a positive outcome that allows us to recoup a significant portion of the Medicaid funding that has been identified as overpayments,” said HSD Secretary Sidonie Squier. “PMS and YDI should be commended for working with the State from the get-go to improve service delivery, acknowledge the need to repay overpayments assigned to their work, and sever ties with other troubled entities.” 

PMS and YDI are not among the behavioral health companies with the most serious or numerous whistleblower complaints against them, which include allegations that, in other companies, employees were told to intentionally up-code services as a means of siphoning extra money out of the Medicaid system, told to bill for services never provided, or told to obstruct the reporting of critical incidents to proper authorities and regulators. 

Additionally, neither PMS nor YDI are as deeply engrained in the complex financial relationships and potential conflicts of interest that exist around the entities that comprise the seven Rio Grande behavioral health care companies and the numerous not-for profit and for-profit companies that are closely related to TeamBuilders.  

Today’s announcement is separate and distinct from, and has no bearing on, the continuing criminal investigation being conducted by state and federal authorities into the conduct of all 15 companies audited this year.

UPDATE 3:35 p.m. Some new information since I first posted this.

Human Services spokesman Matt Kennicott said that there are no other settlement negotiations with any of the other providers under investigation.

Unlike other providers under investigation, both PMS, which operates statewide, and YDI, which has facilities in Albuquerque and in Valencia County, have remained open seeing their clients for the past several months. Kennicott said they have been using their cash reserves to stay afloat.

PMS serves 3,400 behavioral health clients on Medicaid, while YDI serves about 260.

Sen. Bill O'Neill, D-Albquerque, who has been one of the leading critics of the administration over the mental-health shakeup, had the following statement about today's developments:

"To me, this is just more of the same attempt at positive spin by the Martinez Administration. Whatever the ultimate resolution of this (Human Services Department) induced audit crisis is, there was absolutely no reason to destroy our existing state's mental health system in the process. The 15 non profit behavioral health providers were not given the chance to review the findings and respond accordingly. They were denied due process. We still do not know what the actual allegations are -- none of us do. I have also noticed that (Human Services) is very fond of the word `siphon.' Well, how about the word, `hijacked'? Or `hostile takeover', by out-of-state, Arizona companies?"

Youth Development Inc. just sent this news release:

After four months of working with the Human Services Department on the behavioral health audit conducted by PCG, YDI and the Department have reached a settlement.    However, YDI did not fully agree with the processes employed by the State and PCG.  Seeking resolution, YDI fully cooperated with HSD in this matter and continued to provide services while payments to it were suspended. 

In the interest of resolving all differences between YDI and HSD amicably, and in order to avoid the time, trouble, expense, delay and uncertainty of the time litigating this matter we believed this was the most prudent path for YDI to take. 

The amount settled for is about 8 percent of the amount billed over the last 3 years.  According to the GAO, the National average claim failure rate is between 3 percent  and 9 percent .  We are working diligently with the State and Valle del Sol to improve to our behavioral health systems in order to reduce that rate to zero.   

We look forward to continue to serve the many people who are our consumers and who have put their faith and confidence in the critical services YDI has provided for over 42 years.
UPDATE: 5:15 pm  PMS just issued a statement quoting CEO Steve Hansen saying, "While we have never agreed with the State’s contentions, allegations, or actions, PMS’s primary motivation in settling was to preserve its critical safety net behavioral health services and over 200 New Mexico behavioral health jobs.”

The statement also said, "This settlement resolves all potential civil and administrative disputes with the State. PMS was unwilling to sacrifice services to so many New Mexico communities, choosing resolution instead of a long legal battle."

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.

Susana Martinez: Jersey Girl

So where in the world is New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez today?

New Jersey, of course. After her recent swing through the South, Martinez is in Jersey campaigning for Gov. Chris Christie, who is up for re-election tomorrow. Republican Christie is expected to win big and start immediately campaigning for president.

Martinez will join him at campaign stops in Nutley, Hillside, Freehold, South Plainfield, Morris Plains, and Union City, according to

In 2010, Christie campaigned for Martinez here in New Mexico.

The report from says Martinez's appearances is Christie's
... latest attempt to reach out to the Hispanic community, a constituency he has courted often throughout his campaign and one Christie will need should he jump into the 2016 presidential election.

"As we enter the final days of the campaign having her on the trail is going to help us tell our story and bolster our vision for the next four years," said Christie campaign spokesman Kevin Roberts. It also makes another statement about what we are doing and the non-traditional support we are getting."

New Jersey Democrats aren't happy about this. In a news release the state party wrote, "... Christie and Martinez have a lot in common. Both governors are former prosecutors with records of abusing their official powers to reward their political allies and tank their state economies."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: More Fun With Common Cause's Lobbyist Report

What industry had the most lobbyists working the New Mexico state Legislature this year? Was it the oil and gas industry, which is responsible for a huge portion of state revenues? Was it the big pharmaceutical companies? The liquor industry? Ranchers? Chile farmers?

None of the above, actually. According to the study released last week by Common Cause New Mexico, the special interest that hired the largest number of lobbyists was government, including local and tribal governments as well as public educational agencies.

The study found (based on information from the Secretary of State’s website and the Institute of Money in State Government) that there were 250 lobbyists hired by government agencies working the Roundhouse halls during the last session, which ended in March.

Look at it this way: There are 112 legislators, so there were more than two government lobbyists for every lawmaker.

For more check out today's New Mexican.

For my story on the lobbyist report last week CLICK HERE

For the Common Cause report itself CLICK HERE

Friday, November 1, 2013

Governor Chooses Vickie Perea for Easley's Seat

If you predicted that Gov. Susana Martinez would chose a fellow Republican to replace the late Stephen Easley in the state House of Representatives, you were right.

Martinez went with Vickie Perea, a former Albuquerque city councilor. This means the political composition of the House will be 37 Democrats and 33 Republicans in next year's session. Perea will have to run for election to the seat next year if she wants to stay.

Here's the governor's statement:

Today, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Republican Vickie Perea to the State House of Representatives District 50 seat. Perea will fill the vacancy created by the passing of State Representative Stephen Easley. She will assume the term that ends December 31, 2014. 

Perea, a former Democrat, is a  native New Mexican, wife, mother, and grandmother with a varied, life-long history of public service. As an employee and administrator at the City of Albuquerque, she served for twenty-five years. After her retirement from the City, Perea served for four years as a City Councilor, which included service as Council President. In addition to her tenure as an elected official, Perea has devoted much of her time to service in other capacities, including past work as a Regent for Trinity International University, as a member of the Board of Directors and Chairperson of New Mexico First, and as Vice-Chairperson of the Unification Charter Commission for the City of Albuquerque/Bernalillo County.  She has previously also been involved with the New Mexico Municipal League and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce. Perea attended the University of New Mexico and completed the program for executives in state and local government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and holds an Honorary LLD, Doctor of Laws from Cohen University and Theological Seminary.  

“I had an opportunity to speak with all three nominees for this position and appreciate their willingness to serve,” Governor Martinez said. “In Vickie, the citizens of House District 50 have a passionate public servant who will bring a fresh voice to the Legislature.  She is capable of working across party lines and is well-qualified to help craft public policy that will benefit New Mexico’s economy, schools, and families.” 

More in tomorrow's New Mexican