4-19-17

Politicians turn out for anti-abortion press conference, fundraising

Anti-abortion advocates from across the country held a press conference in Albuquerque Wednesday morning denouncing New Mexico’s flagship university for its fetal tissue donation practices. Among those who spoke at the event were Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican and Washington D.C. attorney Catherine Glenn Foster. Blackburn, who chaired the controversial congressional Select Panel on Infant Rights, said she came to “join my colleague in the House [of Representatives] and those in New Mexico that have worked on the issue of life.”

The Select Panel released a report in January faulting the University of New Mexico for lacking protocols to “ensure the survival of infants who show signs of life following extraction from the uterus.” It also scrutinized UNM’s relationship with Southwest Women’s Options, an abortion provider that has donated fetal tissue to the university for scientific research. Supporters of abortion rights, as well as minority Democrats in the Select Panel, have dismissed the report and the panel’s investigation for using “McCarthy-era tactics” to conduct “an end-to-end attack on fetal tissue donation and women’s health care.”

Pearce contended that “the laws are clear” and that “we’re simply stating, ‘Do not violate the law.’”

The Select Panel made 15 criminal referrals for its research of abortion providers and educational institutions across the country, including to New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. To date, Balderas has not acted on the referral to his office.

Where mayoral candidates got campaign cash and how they spent it

Candidates for the Albuquerque mayoral election filed their campaign finance reports over the weekend. The financial reports shed some light on which privately-financed candidates have raised the most money and from whom they’re getting their contributions. Right now, 16 official candidates are running for the city’s top office, but only four have raised significantly large amounts of money. Brian Colón
Former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman and one-time candidate for lieutenant governor Brian Colón leads the pack in fundraising. Most of his $350,000 haul came in large donations from business owners and executives.

APS faces public records suit from mother of student

More than a year after Albuquerque Public Schools denied her public records requests related to an incident involving her autistic son, Laura Gutierrez is taking the state’s biggest public school district to court. Her lawsuit, filed last month in Albuquerque’s state district court, alleges APS wrongly withheld public records responsive to requests she made in late 2015. She is asking for the school district to release the records and pay damages for violating the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). Under IPRA, public agencies can be fined up to $100 per day in damages for not fulfilling public records requests if the person who brings the suit can prove damages. “I have decisions I need to make as a parent, and without these records I can’t move forward,” Gutierrez said in an interview.

Ex-business owners say ABQ minimum wage ordinance is invalid

The ex-owners of an Albuquerque restaurant and bar want a state district court judge to throw out a wage theft lawsuit against them and argue the ordinance that raised the city’s minimum wage is invalid. If a judge were to rule the ordinance was not validly enacted, it would lower the minimum wage to the state’s rate of $7.50 per hour. Currently, the Albuquerque minimum wage is $8.80 per hour. The current owners are not part of the lawsuit. “Santa Fe Dining purchased Kelly’s in August of 2016 and since that time all Kelly employees are paid by the rate required by law, including the Albuquerque ordinance at issue in the lawsuit between the former owner of Kelly’s and some of its employees,” Jim Hargrove, president of Santa Fe Dining, wrote in an email to NM Political Report Tuesday.

Supporters rally for LGBTQ-friendly club

One week after a Nob Hill nightclub was subjected to homophobic attacks, a group of supporters rallied Sunday morning to support Albuquerque Social Club. Anthony Montaño, who manages the LGBTQ-friendly club, told NM Political Report the harassment began Saturday, April 1, when the club received four threatening phone calls. The next day, Montaño said the harassment continued and the club’s door staffer “felt threatened enough to call the police.”

That evening, two club staffers saw two cars pull up into the parking lot as they were leaving from work. Each car brandished guns, Montaño said, and fired a total of three shots into the air. The staffers ran inside and called the police.

Scam costs city of Albuquerque $400,000

The City of Albuquerque was hit with a scam, costing the city at least $400,000. That’s according to the State Auditor, who reported the state’s largest city was the second state entity to be hit with the same fraud scheme this week. Earlier this week, the State Auditor reported the scheme resulted in a loss of $200,000 for a construction project at the San Antonio Elementary School in Socorro. Both the Socorro Consolidated School District and the City of Albuquerque contacted the State Auditor’s Office after they learned of the scam. The scheme involves a request by scammers to request to change vendor payment information.

Two big-name Dems say no to public financing in ABQ mayoral race

Albuquerque mayoral candidates have about a week to file their next campaign finance reports. For most, it will be their first reports filed this election. While many of the candidates speak highly of public financing, only one has qualified for it. New Mexico Democrats, for example, have pushed for more publicly financed races and campaigns since at least 2008, when the party added language to their state platform that says“all political campaigns should be publicly financed.”

The Albuquerque mayoral race is nonpartisan, so none of the candidates will be identified with any specific political party on the ballot. Related: Privately-funded ABQ mayoral candidates ready for first reporting deadline

Mayoral candidates Deanna Archuleta and Brian Colón are both prominent Democrats running for mayor who both opted to use private funds for their campaigns.

Police investigating slur written on gay-friendly club

Graffiti of a slur against the LGBT community on a private gay-friendly club in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill prompted police response and outrage from advocates. The graffiti, which said “F— You Fa–,” was scrawled on the walls of the Albuquerque Social Club Monday. Police were called to look into the incident. Albuquerque Police Department officer Fred Duran told NM Political Report the incident sparked additional officer patrols in the area Monday night. He added that police have not found the culprit who wrote the graffiti, which has since been washed off.

Privately-funded ABQ mayoral candidates ready for first reporting deadline

As the Albuquerque mayoral race rolls on, more than half of the 14 candidates currently in the race have decided to raise their own money instead of using public campaign funding

Most of the nine privately-funded candidates won’t say  how much money they’ve collected with the first filing deadline a little more than a week away. In addition to raising money to operate, campaigns must collect the signatures of 3,000 registered Albuquerque voters before the end of April to qualify for the ballot. Because he is already an Albuquerque City Councilor, Dan Lewis was the first privately-financed candidate to fully report his campaign finances. Lewis’ campaign finance report filed in January shows he raised more than $108,000 in monetary and in-kind contributions from business owners, state lawmakers and other individuals. Some of the businesses include insurance and real estate agents, construction companies, a local ambulance company and a private motor vehicle registration company.

Citing trouble collecting money, some mayoral candidates abandon public financing

Albuquerque mayoral candidates seeking public campaign money have less than a week left to qualify. While the filing deadline may lead to a reduced list of candidates, it’s likely candidates who fail to qualify for public financing will stay in the race and instead fund their campaigns through private donations. The Albuquerque city clerk’s website listed seven candidates as seeking public financing as of Monday night, but two candidates on that list told NM Political Report they will forgo public money and fund their campaigns from regular donations. Those who are still trying to qualify for public money will need to submit almost 4,000 contributions of $5 each by Saturday to qualify. The collected contributions will be deposited into a city account and then divided amongst the qualified candidates.