Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Anti-Susana Ad Emerges

A political committee that has been harshly critical of Gov. Susana Martinez released a hard-hitting 30-second ad denouncing the governor as being two-faced.

Called  '¡Qué Vergüenza!,' ("how embarassing") the spot refers to the controversial recordings of Martinez and her staff released recently by Mother Jones. It;s the work of the Better New Mexico PAC, which is associated with ProgressNow New Mexico.

Here's the script:

We all want to be proud of our leaders, but Susana Martinez is not the leader we thought she was. Turns out, she's just another politician.
Behind closed doors, Susana Martinez played along when her staff laughed and shamed Spanish speaking families, like mine.
Caught on tape, she refuses to apologize. Que Verguenza!
Susana Martinez is not right for New Mexico. She's not right for me, she's not right for you.

Martinez's campaign spokesman told my colleague Milan Simonich, “This is a false ad run by an extreme, dark-money group that has a history of peddling fictional and misleading attacks against Gov. Martinez.”

Here's the ad:

Rael Becomes 1st Dem Governor Candidate to Run TV ad

Lawrence Rael is the first of the five gubernatorial candidates to go on television with a campaign ad.

It's a positive ad full of optimism. Lots of images of children can be found here, as well as footage of a rancher, a teacher, a lumberjack, some medical professionals and a guy making espresso.

And though it's called "Contrast," and says Rael sees the state "in a very different light," it doesn't actually contrast Rael's view with that of Gov. Susana Martinez or any of his Democratic primary opponents.

Lawrence Rael sees New Mexico in a very different light. He sees a New Mexico that can thrive.
Where we lift up our children with an education that nurtures and inspires their full potential. A state with no shortage of good jobs and opportunities.
A place that grows local business and welcomes others. Where poverty is transformed into prosperity and the life we all deserve.
Lawrence Rael sees a very different New Mexico.
And as governor, you can trust Lawrence to get us there.

Another Democrat, Alan Webber told me this morning that he'll have a TV ad on the air in the very near future.

Discouraging Words for NM Dems from Democratic Governors Association

Democratic Governors Association Chairman Peter Shumlin, whose day job is governor of Vermont, said what some national pundits have been saying for a long time: He doesn't expect Democrats to win gubernatorial races in New Mexico (or Nevada. And he's not real hopeful about Texas).

Real Clear Politics quoted Shumlin saying yesterday “I wish that we could spend money for Democrats in all 50 states. My job is not to promote governors’ races in states where we can’t win.”

Sam Bregman, chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party told KRQE “I’m a little disappointed. I’m not surprised. ... I gather they’re basing that decision on polls that are old and showing Gov. [Susana] Martinez at high poll ratings. But I think now and certainly once we get a nominee that they may be reconsidering that decision.”

There's no way Shumlin's statement will make it easier on the five Democratic gubernatorial candidates to attract national money for their campaigns.

In 2010, the DGA contributed more than $300,000 directly to the unsuccessful campaign of Democrat Diane Denish. Plus, the association spent more than  $770,000 on "media buys" (television time for campaign ads) for Denish in 2010.

UPDATE 12:45 pm The earlier version of this post didn't include the part about the DGA spending money for media buys on behalf of Denish.

Friday, April 25, 2014

GOP Lawmaker Talks Up ALEC

Rep. Herrell
I hadn't even thought of the American Legislative Exchange lately, but I just got this news release from the state Republican Party that has Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo talking about her trip next week to an ALEC meeting in Kansas City.

ALEC hasn't been in the news much since the 2012 shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. That state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" gun law was based on model legislation from ALEC. In recent months, several corporations have left the group.

Earlier in 2012, there was a confrontation between ALEC and Occupy Santa Fe, which crashed a legislative dinner for ALEC at the Eldorado. One legislator's girlfriend was injured, but didn't press charges. The only people convicted were two hotel employees accused of roughing up a photographer . The two pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery charges in Municipal Court.

The organization includes state lawmakers from all over the country. Not only does it have corporate sponsors -- which is the case for many national organizations -- corporations also are members. Their representatives help legislators craft model legislation.

Anyway, here's what Rep. Herrell had to say today about ALEC.

Next week, I will be traveling to Kansas City for the American Legislative Exchange Council spring meeting. As a volunteer leader of the organization in New Mexico, I am glad to attend these meetings and support state-based, free market initiatives. You will no doubt hear claims of undue influence by those who disagree with ALEC ideas and would rather attempt to discredit the organization than debate its proposals.

What is often and conveniently omitted from the anti-ALEC narrative is that member legislators believe in and support limited government, free market and federalism priorities, and we were elected by citizens who share the same views. As a legislator, I stand for my constituents’ interests and the interests of all New Mexicans first, and to make the best decision that is most consistent with the desires of my community, I need to be well informed.

Seeking information does not mean I agree with or act upon everything I hear.  Sometimes, standing up for New Mexicans involves discussing policy with other legislators from New Hampshire or New York or learning about what regulations might stifle free enterprise and innovation. These discussions and education are desperately needed in New Mexico.

Nearly half of all land in New Mexico and more than a third of our state budget comes from the federal government. But, as population growth slows, baby boomers age and the national debt increases, New Mexico needs to find new approaches to attracting businesses, creating opportunity and funding our state programs. As the federal money-well dries up, New Mexico continues to increase its dependence on a well that gives no water. Between 2001 and 2012, our state budget coming from the federal government increased from 28 percent to 37 percent. This is a serious problem—one that needs to be solved now.

So why should New Mexico legislators share with and learn from other state legislators about economic policy? Without smart and innovative policy, excessive federal spending will curtail competitiveness and stagnate growth in New Mexico. We are too dependent on the federal government and need innovative, free-market solutions to balance our budget and put New Mexico on a path to a sustainable future.

For proof that state-based solutions work, look no further than our neighbor, Texas.

The Lone Star state doesn’t collect a personal income tax and its hands-off approach allows businesses to thrive. The results have been impressive. Over the last decade, Texas’ job growth topped 12.5 percent – well above the national average – and more than a million more Americans moved to Texas than moved out.

Private sector enterprises are flocking to Texas, with tech firms leading the charge. In 2012, Apple alone created 3,600 new jobs across Texas. The Lone Star state is now home to the second-largest and fastest-growing technology sector in the country.

Meanwhile, economic growth in states that impose high-taxes and burdensome regulations has slowed to a crawl. In California, where the top individual income tax is a nation-high 13.3 percent, tax policy hasn’t solved the state’s economic woes. While Texas was creating jobs at a double-digit rate, California’s employment grew by only 0.4 percent.

Learning from the successes and failures of others helps me work with the New Mexico Legislature to create a bright future for all New Mexicans. A more informed legislator makes more informed decisions, and it is in this spirit that I am honored to serve New Mexico and glad to seek opinions and innovative solutions from all viewpoints.

Rael First to Blast Gardner for Credit Card Story

Keith Gardner
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael won the rapid-response prize for his reaction to the story about Gov. Susana Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner using a government credit card for personal purchases.

In a news release from his campaign, Rael said:

“The use of state resources by Keith Gardner for personal expenses is not a trivial matter. That the governor’s Chief of Staff either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that he can’t use public resources for private expenses is beyond comprehension. The governor’s top staff member shouldn’t get a pass when a subordinate would be subject to disciplinary measures, if not outright dismissal.

“The excuses provided by Gov. Martinez’s administration don’t match with the law. Keith Gardner’s actions should be fully investigated by the state auditor. Gov. Martinez promised ethical government but can’t even discipline her chief of ctaff on such an obvious misuse of taxpayer funds.”

Thom Cole of The Albuquerque Journal got the scoop, identifying more than $4,500 in personal purchases on Gardner's state card.

As Jerome Block, Jr. might say, that's a lot of chimichungas!  (Cheap shot: Unlike Block, Gardner reimbursed the state for his personal charges long before being forced to.)

Among the items purchased and later reimbursed: a necktie at a Williamsburg, Va., hotel, heartburn medication and iPhone accessories from Walmart, car fresheners from Best Buy, a copy of the magazine Popular Science from an airport gift shop, a coin display case from Michaels and a Southwest Airlines fee for Gardner’s wife.

Car fresheners from Best Buy?

Gardner told Cole his use of the government credit card didn't comply with state policy and was “poor practice and sloppy.” But the said the reimbursements were evidence he wasn't trying to rip off the taxpayers.

He got to keep the card and has faced no discipline for the matter. However, future charges on Garder's now have to be approved in advance.

Rael probably won't be the last  to comment on Gardner's credit card charges. He also was the first Dem candidate to blast Martinez over the behind-the-scenes recordings revealed in that Mother Jones story last week.

Meanwhile, here's a little flashback from Repo Man:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gloves are Off in the NM Gov's Race

McCleskey, Kennicott, Gardner
from the Webber email
I think the campaign for governor officially turned nasty Wednesday when Democrat Alan Webber's campaign released an email fundraising letter calling Gov. Susana Martinez's advisors a "fraternity of misogynistic thugs," bringing up old criminal cases involving Martinez's top political consultant Jay McCleskey from the 1990s.

The email, signed by Webber's campaign Neri Holguin, also took aim at Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner and Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott.

"Let me repeat: this is her inner circle—the people she chooses to surround herself with each and every day, who guide her policy and her communications. And of course, her political spin," Holguin wrote. "She and her band of criminals must be stopped."

Meanwhile, the Martinez campaign called the email "unhinged" and said Webber is "an unapologetic extremist who is better-suited to run a hate-filled blog than serve as the state’s chief executive.”

UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.: Here's the story in The New Mexican.

The Mark Rudd Endorsement

I suspect that the Alan Webber/Mark Rudd flap will be a one-day story. (HERE is my contribution.)

But in case anyone was wondering what sparked the whole kerfuffle, it was a letter that Rudd sent to friends a couple of weeks ago. I quoted from it in today's story.

The entire text is below:

Rudd then and now
(from )
Dear Friends:  Yesterday Marla held a meet-and-greet at our house for Alan Webber for the Democratic nomination for Governor.  I limited my role in the event to cooking and listening since I'd been skeptical of Alan's chances (as a newcomer and "demographically challenged" outsider) and been looking at the other more conventional politico candidates, Howie Morales in particular because a few good friends have endorsed him.  However, in his talk at our house Alan said something that clicked with me:  that he'd run against not just Susana Martinez, but against the Koch Brothers behind her.  In his own words, he'd "nationalize the race," make it a test-case for stopping the Kochs.  He could raise money, he asserted, from out of state to wage the fight.  

That alone would have been enough, because at last a NM Democrat will be making the difference between himself and Susana crystal clear.  But a further thought popped into my head:  Alan can win the Demo nomination by nationalizing the primary, too.  Since it's a five-person race, it will take only about 35,000 votes to win in June.  (Turnout is abysmal in party primaries, alas: 35,000 in a state of 2 million).  There have got to be 35,000 progressives in New Mexico who already know who the Koch Brothers are and don't like them or their minions, like our governor.  The problem is to motivate these few people to actually vote in the primary.  

Alan Webber is a strange duck for me to be supporting:  for 10 years he edited the Harvard Business Review (!!!??), then, based in Portland, he founded an innovative entrepreneur's magazine, Fast Company, which he sold for a gazillion dollars: he and his wife, Frances, moved to Santa Fe 11 years ago.  Along with this shady part of his past--which may actually be quite useful to defining a new path to economic development for the state--Alan seems to be a compassionate and open and respectful person who genuinely wants to listen and learn from the people of New Mexico, then figure out how to help.  Yesterday he talked, among other issues, of ending child hunger in the state, reforming education by eliminating high stakes testing, using his knowledge of business to create jobs in renewable energy development and 21st century tourism (something about apps), preserving the cultural heritage and the environment of the state.  He's outstanding on his understanding of the dangers to the environment, including global warming.  Oh, yes, he's not afraid to say he's for regulating and taxing the sale of marijuana, based on studying Colorado's experiment.  

One of the first things that impressed me about Alan is that he knew precisely whom to hire to run his campaign-- the absolute very best young people from within the state, starting with Neri Holguin as campaign manager, Leanne Leith (formerly of CVNM) as political director, and Ariel Bickel as field director.  He's also engaged the services of a national voter identification consultant, Hallie Montoya Tansey, who is from Albuquerque.  This is no small matter.  I can't tell you the number of otherwise decent candidates I've seen who have hired clueless out-of-state bozos to manage them, with terrible results.  You may want to check out Alan's social media presence, which his young and smart staff has created.'s the pitch:  please don't sit this one out.  This is our only chance to get rid of our disastrous Tea Party governor who guts human services, allows the destruction of our environment, blames the poor, incarcerates as many people as possible.  A good Koch Bros. ideological conservative, Susana Martinez doesn't believe in such a thing as the common good.  Alan is rational:  he knows that we're all in this together.

Help elect a pro-jobs, pro-environment progressive Democrat as Governor.  Check out Alan Webber's website at  Make sure you're a registered Democrat, for God's sake, so you can help where it counts, which isJune 3, only seven weeks away.  Tell all your friends:  by voting for Alan Webber for the Demo nomination for Governor, we can kick the Koch Bros. out of Santa Fe!

It's only going to take 35,000 people to win in June.  This counts.  Please get mobilized.


June 3.  35,000.  Koch no mas.

Martinez's Latest Ad Features Dem Mayors

In her latest TV commercial, Gov. Susana Martinez takes a page from the old Pete Domenici playbook and has a couple of Democratic mayors speaking out for her.

No, Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales isn't one of them.

There's Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz who says, "It's very reassuring that we have a governor who cares for all the people of New Mexico," and former Taos Mayor Darren Cordova, who says, "She's one of us, especially in time of need."

It doesn't take a political genius to figure out that this is a direct appeal to Hispanic voters, especially those in Northern New Mexico. Martinez didn't win a majority of northern Hispanics in 2010, but she won a big enough share to help put her over the top in a state where Democrats have a big edge in voter registration.

Also notable is the difference in tone between Martinez's TV ads (so far) and what she's saying in fund-raising appeals and even in statements to the media. Her TV spots are all positive and, in the case of this one, bipartisanship. (Her first ad was a soft biographical spot). Neither one even mentioned any of the five Dems running against her.

But away from the television ads, Team Susana hasn't shied away from talk about "union thugs" and describing opponents in terms like "far left fringe candidate" etc.

I guess she's talking to two difference audiences. With the TV ads she's trying to persuade casual viewers, mainly Democrats and independents to come over. People who are reading newspaper stories -- or blog posts -- about politics at this point tend to be those who are deeper into the nitty gritty of politics and aren't put off by tough talk. (And those who are likely to make campaign donations, especially at this point, tend to be partisans who appreciate the red meat.)

While Democrats Alan Webber and Lawrence Rael have run radio ads, none of the Dems have advertised on television yet. One frustrated Democrat I was talking to yesterday said she'd give money to the first of the five to go on TV.

(And, full disclosure: By mid October I will not even turn on my TV set because I'll be so sick of all the campaign ads.)

Here's Martinez's ad:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rael Has New Radio Ad

Lawrence Rael
Lawrence Rael became the second Democratic candidate for governor to hit the radio airwaves.

Unlike his primary rival Alan Webber, Rael's ad doesn't directly attack -- in fact doesn't even mention--  the Republican incumbent, Susana Martinez. It just talks about the bad economy in the state and says Rael will make it better.

Here's the script:

Announcer: In the last year alone, New Mexico lost over

Rael: We need good jobs that don’t force our young people to have to choose between staying in New Mexico and their future.

 Announcer: Lawrence Rael has spent 35-years creating jobs and growing our state’s economy.  
Rael:  When we invest in ourselves, we determine our own future. As governor I will lead efforts to diversify our economy, train tomorrow’s workforce today, and make New Mexico a state we are proud to call home.

Announcer: Lawrence Rael.  Democrat for Governor.  Paid for by Rael for New Mexico.  

It's almost certain Republicans will question the line about Rael spending 35 years "creating jobs and growing our state's economy." Rael has spent virtually all of his career in government.

The 3,700 lost jobs figure comes from recent Workforce Solutions reports.

Rael campaign spokesman Kyle Armstrong said the spot will run on radio stations all over the state beginning today or tomorrow. There is a Spanish version as well as the one in English.

Listen to the ad below.


ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Involuntary Transparency

‘‘Gov. Susana Martinez has ushered in a whole new level of openness, and this administration is the most transparent in New Mexico history.”

That’s the basic mantra of the governor’s spokesmen whenever a reporter asks to comment about situations in which one might think the administration isn’t being very open — such as when some news organization is suing Martinez for withholding public records or when the governor’s lawyers argue that a court enforcing public records laws would be unconstitutional.

But last week I decided that indeed, this administration is the most transparent in New Mexico history — though not in the way Martinez and company intended that statement to read. Thanks to a series of leaks going back a couple of years, New Mexicans have been able to see and hear way more behind-the-scenes glimpses than the administration ever intended.

For the rest of this column see The New Mexican's site: 

Also, you should read Rob Nikolewski's column for a different aspect on the same subject HERE

Friday, April 18, 2014

Webber Becomes 1st Dem to Use Mother Jones Recordings in Ad

Alan Webber
Democrat Alan Webber became the first candidate for governor to use one of the recordings of Republican Susana Martinez released in that Mother Jones article this week.

The recording used in the 60-second radio spot is the one in which Martinez was talking about teachers not working during the summer months. (All the audio released with the article reportedly come from private conversations taped during debate prep in the fall of 2010.)

This is contrasted to a portion of an interview by New Mexico Watchdog with Martinez in 2013.

Here's the script of the ad:

Announcer: Here’s what Governor Martinez says on the campaign trail.
Martinez: “I am so pro-teacher it’s not even funny.” 
Announcer: But in newly released audio recordings…a different story.
Martinez: “During the campaign we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education…They already don't work, you know, two and a half months out of the year, three months out of the year.” 
Announcer: In public, Susana Martinez pays our teachers lip service. But when she thinks no one’s listening…she slams them.
That’s what’s not even funny.
And neither is her plan for New Mexico…
Tax breaks for big, out-of-state corporations.
While middle class families fall further behind.
Alan Webber has a different approach.
End tax breaks for out-of-state corporations
Raise the minimum wage…to lift everyone’s pay.
Invest in early childhood education.
And support our teachers.
…not insult them. 
It’s time we respect New Mexicans. Vote June 3 for Alan Webber for Governor. 
Paid for and authorized by Alan Webber for New Mexico, Maria J. Franco, Treasurer—and saying what every New Mexico Democrat believes.

A couple of things to note: Although Martinez and her advisors in 2010 apparently were talking about the possibility of having to cut teacher salaries in that upcoming legislative session, no such salary cuts ever came to be. In the most recent legislative session, Martinez proposed raises for beginning teachers and later signed a budget that included teacher raises.

As for the tax breaks for corporations, that was part of a major tax bill in 2013 that was pushed for and voted for by many Democrats in the Legislature.

Listen to the ad below:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lawrence Rael and the Sex Offender Contributor

Yesterday in the heat of the reaction to the Mother Jones article on Gov. Susana Martinez, two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Paul Pacheco and Monica Youngblood, both from Albuquerque, issued an indignant press release.

"How could Mother Jones be so concerned about Martinez cussing when the Democrats are so much worse?" was the gist of their message. As an example, the legislators said, Lawrence Rael accepted a campaign contribution from a sex offender. Not only a sex offender, but a "pro-sex offender activist."

The contribution in question was $25 -- no, I'm not forgetting any zeroes -- from someone in Albuquerque named Larry Neely.

There is a New Mexico resident named Larry Neely who is part of the group Reform Sex Offender Laws Inc. and he is quoted in the  New York Times story that is linked to in the press release from Pacheco and Youngblood.

 However, there are several people named Larry Neely listed in Albuquerque, so I can't say for certain the guy who gave the $25 to Rael is the same one. (I also checked the state sex offender registration but couldn't find a Larry, Lawrence or Laurence Neely.)

But whether or not the contributor is the same Larry Neely, a spokesman for the Rael campaign said Rael would be donating the $25 to the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program, which helps crime victims.

The campaign received money from more than 500 donors during the last reporting period Kyle Armstrong said. "Lawrence would not knowingly take money from a convicted sex offender," he said. (Shockingly, the campaign does not perform criminal background checks on contributors.)

Heads up Maggie Oliver and Conservation Voters New Mexico Action Fund: The same contributor gave you $10 and $25 respectively.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carmen Lujan Reacts to "Retard" Comment

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

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

Mrs. Lujan wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE 5:22 pm Matt Kennicott issued a statement.

In this private conversation four years ago, I was repeating a direct quote of what someone else had said and I apologize if that offended or hurt anyone. I was relaying this to someone in private and obviously would not have used this language otherwise, as I knew full-well that the governor's sister is developmentally-disabled.

Mother Jones Scorches Gov. Susana

From the Mother Jones article

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

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

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

Clips from the recordings are embedded in the article.

Among the controversial moments on those recordings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the rest of the letter, Martinez said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE 6:24 pm The original version of this mistakenly said last year's Jay McCleskey profile was in The National Review. Actually it was National Journal. It's been corrected in the text. (Thanks, reader Chuck.)

Here's the audio:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Duran's Report Fixed

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Campaign Finance Day!

UPDATED 3:15 pm

See updates below main post

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: 3:15 p.m

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Will Scott Chandler be Howie Morales’ Bill Ayers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Don't Vote For Me

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

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

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

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

But no.

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

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

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

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

Oh my.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

First Susana Ad of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcer: She’s our  governor. Susana Martinez.

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Massey's Eulogy For Max Coll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He lived as he rowed.

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

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

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

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

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


Rand Stands with Martinez

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

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

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

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

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

Martinez Skewers Dem Opponents in Email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Curses! Pinged Again!

“Steve pinged me on this again and says he needs an answer for a Sunday column he’s writing.
“How do we want to respond? Another ‘don’t have responsive documents’ response?”

This was the only response I got last week from Gov. Susana Martinez's office to questions I'd asked about a public records request they had earlier denied.

To get the whole story, see my Sunday column on The New Mexican's site.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The NM House Battleground Districts

Nice to see bipartisan agreement. In today's New Mexican. I wrote about the 10 House races that probably will determine who controls the state House of Representatives next year.

Coming up with the list was easy because both Rep. Nate Gentry, the House Republican Whip who spearheaded recruitment for GOP House candidates and his Democratic counterpart, House Dem Whip Antonio "Moe" Maestas, gave me the exact same districts where they will try to clobber each other in November.

Two of the 10 districts include parts of Santa Fe County.

They are the multi-county District 50, currently represented by Republican Vickie Perea of Belen, challenged by Democrat political newcomer Matthew McQueen of Galisteo and the Los Alamos dominate District 43, where freshman Democrat Stephanie Garcia Richards will face the winner of the GOP primary, either Geoff Rodgers or Vincent Chiravalle.

As for the other eight battleground districts:

The seats the GOP will try to pick up
• District 15 in Albuquerque, where freshman incumbent Rep. Emily Kane will face Republican Sarah Maestas Barnes.
• District 24 in Albuquerque, where another freshman, Rep. Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson, will face former Republican Rep. Conrad James.
• District 36 in Doña Ana County, where incumbent Rep. Phillip Archuleta faces former Rep. Andy Nuñez, running this time as a Republican.
• District 53 in Doña Ana County, which currently is represented by Rep. Nate Cote, who isn’t seeking re-election. Republican Ricky Little, a former legislator is running against Democrat Mariaelena Johnson.

The seats Dems hope to win from Republicans:
• District 37 in Las Cruces, where incumbent Rep. Terry McMillan once again faces Democrat Joanne Ferrary.
• District 4 in San Juan County, where GOP Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, will face the winner of the Democratic primary, Sarah White or Harrison Todacheene.
• District 7 in Valencia County,  where freshman Rep. Kelly Fajardo will face the winner of the Democratic primary contest between Teresa Smith de Cherif and former Rep. Andrew Barreras.
• District 23 in Albuquerque, where Rep. Paul Pacheco will face Democrat Catherine Begaye.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NM Delegation Reacts to McCutcheon Decision

Both U.S. senators from New Mexico as well as U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-Santa Fe have sent out statements deploring the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission.

The ruling struck down the aggregate limits for political contributors to candidates for federal office and political party committees donating to candidates for Congress or president. Prior to the ruling someone could only contribute up to $123,000 total during an election cycle.

It should be noted that the decision did not do away with the limits for contributions to individual candidates. And, it does not apply to state elections, although Viki Harrison with New Mexico Common Cause said in a statement, “This decision lays out a welcome mat for corruption here in New Mexico and across the country.”

In general, Democrats and groups that keep tabs on money in politics have denounced the decision while Republicans have applauded it. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement that the decision is "an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse."

Here's what New Mexico Democratic representatives said:

Sen. Tom Udall
“Americans already believe the election system has been fundamentally corrupted by big money from corporate special interests. And today, the Court has confirmed their fears in its seriously misguided decision, which makes it legal for a few wealthy individuals to flood campaigns with cash, drowning out the voices of regular voters.

“The Court’s ruling returns the campaign finance system to Watergate-era rules – the same rules that fostered corruption, outraged voters and prompted campaign finance regulations in the first place. There has to be accountability. Campaigns should be about the best ideas, not the biggest checkbooks. It's time to put elections back in the hands of American voters, and not with a tiny number of extremely wealthy people and special interests.

“McCutcheon should be the breaking point that forces Washington to permanently reform the campaign finance system. And today, I am again calling on the Senate to support my constitutional amendment, which would enable Congress to pass campaign finance reform legislation that withstands constitutional challenges and ensures all voters continue to have a voice in our democracy.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich

"This deeply flawed Supreme Court decision continues down a path that equates money with speech and corporations with people.

"Make no mistake; decisions like this one and Citizens United erode the integrity of our political process and the public's faith in our leaders to do what's right for the American people.

"I will continue to fight to reform our campaign finance laws and to amend the Constitution to make clear that Congress can set sensible limits on campaign contributions."

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

“Once again the Supreme Court has struck a blow to our efforts to get money out of politics, and reinforces the importance of passing comprehensive reform that limits the ability of individuals, special interest groups, and corporations to spend endless amounts of money in an effort to unduly influence elections.

“Combined with the decision in Citizens United to allow unlimited spending by special interest groups and corporations, today’s ruling by the Supreme Court only serves to increase the opportunities for the richest in our country to have an outsized impact while drowning out the voices of the rest of the American people.

“I have cosponsored the DISCLOSE Act, legislation which increases transparency so that corporations and interest groups cannot hide their donors, a Constitutional amendment to overturn the decision in Citizens United, and legislation to provide public financing of Congressional elections.  I will continue my efforts to restore accountability and transparency while removing the flood of money in the electoral process.”