Pelosi announces House will move forward with articles of impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the U.S. House of Representatives would start drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump over his withholding of foreign aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigating the son of a political rival. The announcement came after an investigation by the House, which began in late September. At the end of October, all three of New Mexico’s members of the House, all Democrats, voted to support the impeachment inquiry. The investigations included closed door meetings by House committees and more recently public hearings of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. Ben Ray Luján, the Assistant Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives, supported the announcement.

State settles with five more behavioral health providers over 2013 funding freeze

The state settled with five more behavioral health providers who had sued after the state froze their access to Medicaid funding in 2013. At the time, the state said it had found credible allegations of fraud by the providers. The new settlements totaled $10 million and are the last of the ten lawsuits filed by providers over the funding freeze. These latest settlements were paid to Santa Maria El Mirador, the provider formerly known as Easter Seals El Mirador; Border Area Mental Health Services; Southwest Counseling Center, Inc.; Southern New Mexico Human Development, Inc.; and Families and Youth, Inc.

The state’s Attorney General cleared all providers that the Susana Martinez administration accused of fraud. The suspension caused a behavioral health crisis in New Mexico.

This Giving Tuesday, support local, non-profit journalism

I helped start NM Political Report five years ago. My first day was December 1, 2014. 

We knew that New Mexico needed an outlet to cover hugely important stories that just weren’t being covered by newspapers or TV stations around the state. In the years since we began, we’ve grown and become an important part of the state’s news landscape and we’re still covering stories no one else will. Five years ago, we decided that we would be a non-profit and not chase ad revenue or fill your browser with pop-ups. In that time, we’ve never placed an ad on our site.

Warren taps Haaland, two other congresswomen as campaign co-chairs

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, an increasingly important campaign surrogate for Elizabeth Warren, is now one of Warren’s campaign co-chairs. 

Warren made the announcement on Friday, announcing that Haaland and fellow Democrats Katie Porter of California and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts would hold the positions. Haaland endorsed Warren this summer. “It’s an incredible honor to have these three persistent women on our team,” Warren said in a statement. While Warren has seen her polling numbers drop in recent weeks, she is still among the top tier of candidates for the Democratic nomination along with former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in national polls, while South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg polls high in Iowa and New Hampshire, though trails in South Carolina and Nevada. 

The Iowa Caucus, the first contest in the Democratic nomination, will take place on Feb. 3.

Members of Congress pressure White House to fire Stephen Miller

Two of New Mexico’s U.S. Representatives signed onto a letter calling on President Donald Trump to remove White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller from the administration in light of emails revealed by the Southern Policy Law Center in recent weeks. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland signed the letter along with over 100 other members of Congress, all Democrats. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Virginia, took the lead on writing the letter. The emails, provided to the SPLC by Katie McHugh, a former Breitbart reporter who has since renounced her far-right political views, show Miller shared links from far-right, white nationalist websites, suggested Breitbart aggregate a story from the fringe website American Renaissance and expressed anger at removal of the Confederate flag after a shooting by a white supremacist.

Elisa Martinez jumps into Senate race

A prominent anti-abortion activist filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate on Wednesday. Elisa Martinez, who founded the New Mexico Alliance for Life and is the group’s executive director, is the third Republican to run for the open U.S. Senate seat after filing her statement of candidacy with the FEC. Only one Democrat is currently running for the position. She announced her candidacy in Albuquerque shortly after. If elected, the member of the Navajo Nation would be the first Native American woman U.S. Senator nationwide and the first Latina U.S. Senator from New Mexico.

NM United tells legislators about need for their own stadium

New Mexico’s professional soccer team received a warm reception from the Legislature Thursday as the team told legislators about the need for their own stadium. The discussion was light on specifics, since it is so early in the process, but signs pointed toward a publicly-owned facility managed by New Mexico United, a similar arrangement in place between the city of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Isotopes. New Mexico United President and CEO Pete Trevisani was joined by McCullers Sports Group LLC president Mark McCullers and City of Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael to speak to the Economic and Rural Development Committee about the potential for a stadium. Rael was involved in the move to build Isotopes Park after the Albuquerque Dukes, the minor league baseball team that played in Albuquerque for decades, left the city. They cautioned that this was in the very early stages and said they didn’t have any specifics to study, but told legislators about the potential impact that a stadium would have on Albuquerque.

Welcome to our reproductive justice reporter, Susan Dunlap

We are happy to announce that we expanded our reporting team with a reproductive justice reporter: Susan Dunlap. Dunlap will lead our coverage of reproductive justice, a very important but undercovered story in New Mexico, which has been described in recent years as a central area in the debate over abortion rights and access. She will also write a twice-a-month newsletter on reproductive justice issues. Dunlap comes to NM Political Report from Montana, where she previously covered the environment at The Montana Standard. Prior to that, she worked at The Silver City Sun-News as a news reporter and now she’s returning to New Mexico.

‘Democracy Dollars’ voted down, but other public financing improvements, bonds pass

A high-profile ballot question in Albuquerque endorsed by three Democratic presidential candidates failed on Tuesday in a high-turnout election. With all precincts reporting, the unofficial results showed “No” winning with 51.25 percent of the vote in unofficial results. 

The Democracy Dollars ballot initiative would have shored up the city’s public financing program and allowed city residents to direct vouchers of $25 for qualified candidates. 

Related: Two ABQ council races likely headed for a runoff election

Democratic presidential candidates Julian Castro, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren each lent their support to the proposal, with the latter two doing so on Election Day. And Castro endorsed it on Oct. 29, as early voting was about to end. By Election Day, nearly 44,000 voters had cast ballots on the question, either through early or absentee voting—more than cast ballots on Election Day.

State cancels grazing lease from company owned by Epstein

A company previously owned by the now-deceased and disgraced former financier Jeffrey Epstein will relinquish its grazing leases around its New Mexico ranch. The State Land Office announced in September it would cancel the leases. On Friday the office announced a settlement with the company, Cypress Inc.

“I am pleased that the State Land Office is no longer in business with Cypress Inc., and especially proud that we were able to save State resources by resolving this matter outside of the courtroom,” State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard said in a statement. “My decision to cancel these leases stands, and my staff and I will move forward with our discussions for future uses of the 1,200 acres of state trust land located near the Zorro Ranch.”

The cancellation of the lease is effective as of October 4 of this year. Epstein died of an apparent suicide, though some say it was a homicide, while in jail awaiting charges of sex trafficking.