Federal candidates raise big money ahead of next year’s elections

Some federal candidates continued to raise large amounts of money in the latest campaign finance reports. The campaign finance reports due on Tuesday included money raised and spent between July 1 and September 30. Democratic Senate candidate Ben Ray Luján raised the most money in the quarter, bringing in over $1 million. The U.S. Representative seeking to replace Tom Udall, who preceded him as as the representative for the 3rd Congressional District, has over $1.6 million cash-on-hand. Luján’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, raised $205,000 and finished with $85,000 cash-on-hand.

Torres Small backs impeachment inquiry

After becoming one of the final Democratic holdouts, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small now supports the ongoing impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump happening in the House, citing Trump’s efforts to block the investigation. However, she said she still has “not reached judgment on the president’s actions, nor on the appropriate response.”

The first-term congresswoman announced the news in an opinion piece in the Las Cruces Sun News on Thursday. Previously, Torres Small had held the middle ground, saying she supported an investigation into the allegations against Trump related to Ukraine, but not calling it a formal impeachment inquiry. However, the Trump administration’s actions changed that. “Earlier this week, the president and his administration made it clear to New Mexicans that they are not committed to finding the truth,” Torres Small wrote.

AG warns against vaping, using e-cigarettes

New Mexico’s Attorney General issued a warning to residents about the health risks of e-cigarettes and vaping. The announcement came after the federal Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration each announced investigations into the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes. 

“I am warning all New Mexicans of the health and safety risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes of any kind,” said Attorney General Balderas. “My office will hold any bad actor civilly and criminally accountable that risks the lives of New Mexican children by falsely marketing these devices as safe.”

The New Mexico Department of Health said it had identified 14 vaping-related injury cases, each requiring hospitalization; 10 patients said they had vaped products with THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, while one said they had only used nicotine, which a department spokesman said is similar to national numbers. Earlier this year, reports of mysterious illnesses and deaths linked to vaping prompted investigations and media coverage of the problem. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that there are a reported 805 lung injury cases in 46 states, including New Mexico, and one U.S. territory, along with 12 confirmed deaths in ten states.

Heinrich: ‘Trump is running our government like a criminal enterprise’

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich slammed President Donald Trump after the release of a rough transcript of the president’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

“This transcript is hard evidence that President Trump is running our government like a criminal enterprise,” Heinrich said. “He has enlisted both his personal attorney and the U.S. Attorney General to coordinate with a foreign government to interfere in our election.”

The phone call took place in July and is part of a whistleblower complaint filed with the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Federal law requires that such complaints be transmitted to the House and Senate Intelligence committees. The complaint will be sent to Congress Wednesday afternoon, according to U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California; Heinrich sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential frontrunner.

House to begin impeachment inquiry

“Today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon in an historic announcement. Shortly after Pelosi announced that she directed six committees to investigate Trump under the auspices of an impeachment inquiry, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, a first-term Democrat representing the most conservative district in the state, released a statement that did not mention impeachment, and instead focused on access to a whistleblower complaint over actions Trump took regarding aid to Ukraine and allegedly pressuring the country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. “Congress has a legal right to see the full details of any whistleblower complaint, especially those that involve our nation’s security,” Torres Small said. “The President must release the full complaint and allow any testimony by the whistleblower, or any other administration officials, to occur free of White House interference. Through the coming weeks and months, I will act to support and defend our Constitution by insisting on a transparent process that fully informs the American people and restores trust and faith in our system.

Judge: State still can’t deny medical cannabis cards to out-of-state residents

A judge reaffirmed his ruling that out-of-state residents are eligible for medical cannabis cards on Monday. State District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid again ordered the state Department of Health to provide medical cannabis cards to those non-New Mexico residents who qualify for the state’s program. The state had previously provided cards to three non-residents. But it had not given cards to other non-residents not part of the initial court filing. Monday, the judge also ordered DOH to begin giving cards to other non-residents who qualify for the program.

Climate rally in ABQ includes calls for action

Thousands of students walked out of school and adults left work across New Mexico as part of massive international climate protests. In Albuquerque a large crowd took part in large a rally downtown  on Friday with hundreds, likely over 1,000, people. The rally included local artists, politicians and students speaking about the impact of climate change and the need to immediately address it. Most of the speakers were local youth. Alyssa Ruiz, the founder of the Sandia High School Climate Club, spoke to the crowd and called on zero emissions by 2050.

Trump administration transfers land to Army to build border wall

The Trump administration announced Thursday it transferred  560 acres of land administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior to the U.S. Army to pave the way for the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico—including some land in New Mexico. The land in New Mexico includes a 170 acre parcel that includes parts of Luna and Hidalgo counties for “replacement of existing vehicle barrier with pedestrian barrier.” An additional 43 acres in Hidalgo County is slated for “construction of new primary and secondary pedestrian barriers.”

The announcement by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said the transfer would allow the construction of about 70 miles of border barriers. 

The move comes after the Trump administration diverted $3.6 billion in funding for military projects to fund the controversial border wall. “Absent this action, national security and natural resource values will be lost,” Bernhardt said. “The impacts of this crisis are vast and must be aggressively addressed with extraordinary measures.”

Of the $3.6 billion in diverted military funds, $125 million comes from projects slated for New Mexico, at Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range. Thursday’s move drew immediate condemnation from members of New Mexico’s federal delegation.

State Sen. Carlos Cisneros dies

Long-time State Sen. Carlos Cisneros passed away on Tuesday. He was 71. The Senate Democratic caucus said the cause of death was a heart attack. State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, announced the news on Twitter Tuesday. “Very sad to report that my colleague, Senator Carlos Cisneros, passed away earlier today,” Padilla wrote.

As Trump speaks, Democrats rally miles away

While the city of Rio Rancho prepared for President Donald Trump’s appearance in Rio Rancho, Democrats held a unity rally in Old Town Albuquerque at Tiguex Park. Hundreds of supporters listened to Democratic elected officials and others slam Trump and his agenda. They also rejected the idea that Trump could win New mexico and be the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since George W. Bush in 2004. Related: Trump rallies in Rio Rancho, vows to flip NM in 2020

Supporters held signs calling for Trump to be impeached, calling for action on gun violence and to protect abortion access. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller kicked off the event.