SFR Muckraker's Guide

Democrats criticize Wilson’s appearance with Rove

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U.S. Senate candidate Heather Wilson appeared alongside former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove at an event in Colorado this week, prompting Democrats to criticize Wilson once again for her role in the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

“Heather Wilson’s decision to campaign with Karl Rove shows that nothing has changed since she was named one of Congress’ most corrupt members by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in 2007,” Shripal Shah of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told the Huffington Post.

Wilson and Rove were both involved in the allegations of politically motivated firings of Iglesias. Critics of the firings allege that Iglesias was canned because he didn’t go after alleged voter fraud that would have helped Wilson in her 2006 campaign against Patricia Madrid. Wilson won in a very close race.

There were no criminal charges filed in any of the firings of U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration.

Iglesias and Rove have sparred over his firing in recent years, with reporter David Weigel calling the “score-settling” by Rove against Iglesias “some of the least-convincing.”

Wilson is the early frontrunner for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat. She previously ran for Senate in 2008 when Sen. Pete Domenici opted not to run because of health issues. Wilson lost in the Republican primary to Steve Pearce narrowly.


Balderas criticizes Wilson, Sanchez on Medicare

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Senate candidate Hector Balderas went on the offensive Friday — but in an email against the two top-tier Republican candidates, not his main opponent, fellow Democrat Martin Heinrich. Balderas said that he would vote against the Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., budget. But with the two Republicans, he said, “We just don’t know.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, said that …”Paul Ryan’s [plan] is a very good start.” Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, when asked about the plan, said, “… I give him a lot of credit for trying to have a serious debate about saving Medicare.”

But despite their praise, when pressed on how they would vote, they both refused to answer.

Interestingly enough, Balderas did not mention Heinrich directly or even indirectly in the email. The closest that he’s come to mentioning Heinrich so far is to say that he is not a Washington insider.

“In this campaign, I won’t have the most connections in Washington. I won’t be the candidate of the lobbyists or the insiders,” he said in his announcement video. “But I’m not running to be their senator, I’m running to be yours.”

So far the Democratic primary has been clean while the two top Republican candidates have been attacking each other since Sanchez entered the race.

Balderas also received some national attention in the form of a Washington Post profile this week.

“The big question for Balderas is whether he can raise enough money to compete with Heinrich,” the profile said of the Wagon Mound resident.

The profile was part of The Fix series The Rising, which “spotlight[s] lesser-known politicians who have ‘star’ written all over them.”

Sanchez was previously profiled in the series.


Bill Richardson listed as bribery trial witness

Photo: World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, Flickr

Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is on the witness list in the trial of a Las Cruces judge accused of bribery, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Richardson is joined on the witness list by more than a dozen judges.

District Judge Michael Murphy is on trial for allegedly paying for his judgeship.

Murphy was indicted May 13 on charges of bribery, criminal solicitation and intimidation of a witness for allegedly telling a prospective judge in 2007 that she needed to make payments to a local Democratic activist and friend of Richardson to ensure an appointment.

Richardson did not respond to the paper except through spokesman Gilbert Gallegos to say, “Governor Richardson doesn’t comment on political witchhunts.”

Richardson has insisted that Murphy did not pay for his judgeship and Democrats have said that the trial is politically motivated. The special prosecutor in the case is Republican Matt Chandler, who lost his bid to become Attorney General to Gary King in 2010.


Johnson not invited to CNN GOP debate

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson was not invited to the first New Hampshire debate of the Republican primary on June 13. The debate, sponsored by CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader, does however include Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has not yet announced her candidacy for president.

Johnson did not meet the criteria for participating in the debate. The criteria were based on opinion polling done both nationally and in New Hampshire. The candidates could either reach 2 percent in national polls conducted in April or May or at least two percent in New Hampshire polls conducted in May.

“I respect the right of CNN and the other sponsors of the June 13 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary debate to apply their own criteria and invite who they choose,” Johnson said in a statement Friday. “It is, however, unfortunate that a significant segment of the Republican Party, and more importantly, millions of independent voters who might be Republican voters, will not have a voice on the stage in Manchester.”

In addition to Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will participate in the debate.

Other candidates and potential candidates were invited but declined to attend. These include Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and businessman Donald Trump. All have said in recent weeks that they will not seek the presidency in 2012.

Also invited, but declining to attend, are former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Many believed that Johnson’s presidential chances — already slim — took a large hit when Paul entered the race. Both hold similar libertarian positions but Paul already has national infrastructure in place from previous presidential runs.

Johnson participated in a May 5 debate in South Carolina.


Republicans attack Luján over debt limit vote

Congressman Ben Ray Luján will face attacks from the National Republican Campaign Committee over his vote to raise the debt limit. Luján was one of 97 Democrats voting to raise the debt limit $2 trillion to avoid a default on the debt the United States government owes.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Luján will face robo-calls from the NRCC on the vote. Luján doesn’t have an announced Republican opponent yet and is considered in a safe Democratic seat.

“The American economy is still in trouble,” the recording says. “We are drowning in government debt, owed to countries like China. The national debt is now $14 trillion, and Congressman Ben Ray Luján just voted for $2 trillion more debt, without any budget cuts.” 

Luján spokesman Andrew Stoddard fired some political ammunition of his own, saying in Luján’s defense that “Republicans had no problem borrowing money to give bigger tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.

No Republicans voted for the legislation.

In addition to Luján, Congressman Martin Heinrich also voted to raise the debt limit. Heinrich is a candidate for U.S. Senate.

David Catanese of Politico noted that the vote was a Catch-22 for Democrats. The NRCC attacked Democrats on both sides of the vote.

If you’re used to the political games in Washington, this isn’t anything that turns heads. Damned if ya do, damned if ya don’t. 

But if you’re a logical person, you might ask: So what did the NRCC really want Democrats to do?

Perhaps they could chalk it up as a victory that so many Democrats crossed the aisle, changed their mind and joined the Republican mantra about the need for spending cuts.

Democrats warn that defaulting on the national debt could hurt the world economy in an already tough time. Republicans say that the high amount of debt shows that governmental spending needs to be drastically cut.


State starts process to roll back green building codes

The state is holding hearings today on green building codes that Susana Martinez’s administration has put in the crosshairs. The hearings are the start of a process to roll back the regulations that were passed under the Bill Richardson administration.

Martinez’s administration announced its intention to roll back the codes last month after a recommendation by her Small Business Friendly Task Force. Critics have said the small business task force is stacked with lobbyists for large corporations instead of small business owners.

The provisions will go into effect by July 1. The hearings were held Thursday in Farmington, Las Cruces, Roswell and Albuquerque from 9:00 am to noon.

Martinez says that the codes are too expensive for builders and wants the codes to go back to federal standards. Supporters of the codes say the codes will be paid for by using less energy. The Richardson administration touted the codes as the most energy efficient in the nation, the AP reports.

Martinez previously attempted to roll back the codes by executive order but was rebuffed by the State Supreme Court after a lawsuit by The Sierra Club. Martinez had used an executive order to halt the publication of all pending regulations for 90 days but the state Supreme Court ruled that this overextended the governor’s authority and ordered her to publish the regulations.


Four Albuquerque city council candidates qualify for public financing

Four candidates for city council in Albuquerque qualified for public financing, according to the city’s website. The deadline for qualifying for public financing was May 31.

Incumbent city councilor Debbie O’Malley qualified in District 2, Bill Tallman and city councilor Brad Winter qualified in District 4, and Rey Garduno qualified in District 6.

Nicholas Niforos didn’t qualify for the financing in District 6, and Greg Payne withdrew from public financing in District 8. Both will still remain declared candidates but will not receive any public funds in Albuquerque.

In addition to this, Hank Cadena in District 2 and Trudy Jones in District 8 have obtained petitions from the Office of the City Clerk to appear on the Oct. 4 city election. The candidates must receive signatures from 500 registered voters in their districts by June 28 to appear on the ballot.

The candidates who received public financing will receive $1 per registered voter in their district. Garduno will receive a little less than $30,000, while Tallman and Winter will each get more than $35,000.

This is the third election where public financing will be used in Albuquerque municipal elections.

Earlier this year a report by the Center for Governmental Studies lauded Albuquerque’s publicly financed elections. The Independent attributed the public financing to the victory of Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry, who defeated incumbent mayor Martin Chavez and candidate Richard Romero. All three mayoral candidates took advantage of public financing.

Meanwhile, opting out of public financing hurt Michael Cadigan, the District 5 City Councilor who lost his election bid in 2009.

To receive the public financing the candidates must collect donations of $5 from 1 percent of registered voters in the district in which they’re running. Candidates are allowed to spend “seed money” during the time before public financing funds are distributed. The candidates can collect $100 from individual candidates and $500 of self-funding up to 10 percent of the campaign spending limit.

The seed money is subtracted from the financing distributed to the candidate.


Santa Fe’s Leroy Petry to receive Medal of Honor

A man who graduated high school in Santa Fe before enlisting in the Army will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama. Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry will be the second living active-duty service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Petry lost his right hand while throwing a live grenade away from his fellow soldiers during a raid in Afghanistan’s Paktia province.

The Army News Service described his actions in more detail. A grenade landed about ten yards from soldiers, injuring them. Then another grenade landed just feet from the soldiers again.

Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry — despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety — consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and throw it away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.

As Petry released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and amputated his right hand.

Petry assessed his wound and placed a tourniquet on his right arm. He then reported that he was still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again.

Petry is currently assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment and attached to the Special Operations Command. According to the White House, Petry has served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq totaling 28 months of deployment.

The White House announced the decision on Tuesday, and Petry will receive the award on July 12.

The Santa Fe New Mexican outlined his Santa Fe connections:

Petry was interviewed by The New Mexican in 1998 when he was an 18-year-old graduating senior at St. Catherine Indian School — the institution’s final graduating class.

Petry told a reporter he was failing all of his classes at Santa Fe High School and almost flunked out before his parents transferred him to St. Catherine. “It helps because you have a lot of support,” he said. “I could have graduated last summer, but I came back this year because I like this school.”

Also that year, he was given The Bootstrap/SER Award honoring area high school seniors who have committed to improving themselves and the community.

This is not the first honor that Petry has received. The White House said in a release that Petry’s military decorations include:

[T]wo Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, National Defense Service Medal, three Army Good Conduct Medals, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, to name a few.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to member of the United States Armed Forces who “distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidty above and beyond the call of duty” while during active combat.


New Mexico to end food stamp supplement

New Mexico will end a food stamp supplement for elderly and disabled residents, according to the Associated Press. The cuts come just as Congress is considering cuts to the food stamp program even as a record-high amount of people are receiving the benefits.

The AP reports that the Human Services Department will stop the supplement on July 1 because there is no money in the state budget for the program. The program cost half a million dollars last fiscal year.

Federal law requires that those who receive food stamps receive at least $16 a month. New Mexico currently provides at least $25 a month for those who qualify for food stamps.

On a federal level, ABC News reported that Congress is considering spending $2 billion less on food stamps than President Barack Obama says in his version of the budget.

A record number of Americans — about 14 percent — now rely on the federal government’s food stamps program and its rapid expansion in recent years has become a politically explosive topic.More than 44.5 million Americans received SNAP benefits in March, an 11 percent increase from one year ago and nearly 61 percent higher than the same time four years ago.


Kokesh arrested in D.C. after dancing at Jefferson Memorial

Former congressional candidate and Iraq war veteran Adam Kokesh was arrested this weekend after dancing at Jefferson Memorial. Video of the arrest has over half a million views on YouTube, and Kokesh is planning to dance at the memorial again.

Kokesh, a libertarian Republican, ran for Congress in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District in 2010. He lost in the Republican primary but has since begun hosting a radio show.

Kokesh is planning another dance at Jefferson Memorial this Saturday. Nearly 2,000 people have said they will attend the “dance party” on Facebook. The Facebook page says that this is not a protest.

The Facebook event says, “You don’t have to risk arrest, you can dance on the steps outside in support or join us in civil disobedience in the memorial!”