Emails show prosecutors misled public about plea deal with former Martinez cabinet secretary

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Boone wanted to reassure his boss. A political blogger was raising questions in early February about why the DA’s office had agreed to plead Ryan Flynn’s aggravated DWI charge, leveled after a May 20, 2017 traffic stop, down to careless driving. Flynn, one of the state’s most influential powerbrokers, was Gov. Susana Martinez’ former Environment Department secretary, and now heads up the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. This story originally appeared in the Santa Fe Reporter and New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. In a Feb.

How one influential NM powerbroker might have escaped a drunken driving charge

Just after midnight on May 20, Albuquerque Police Officer Joshua Montaño saw a luxury sedan veer into a turn bay blocked off by bright orange traffic barrels before it pulled back over a solid divider line onto an Interstate 25 frontage road. Montaño flipped on his emergency police lights and the 2004 Infiniti stopped in the parking lot of the Marriott Pyramid, a high-end hotel in Northeast Albuquerque. A veteran DWI cop who has conducted hundreds of drunken driving investigations, Montaño approached the vehicle on foot. He was armed with a slew of additional information gleaned from a police service aide and a concerned citizen: The Infiniti’s driver had swerved numerous times traveling northbound from downtown Albuquerque, he’d delayed proceeding through a green light by 10 seconds, he’d driven 10 mph under the posted speed limit, and he’d done it all with his headlights turned off. In the driver’s seat of the car was Ryan Flynn, 39, Gov. Susana Martinez’ former cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, who left that job in 2016 to become executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

Woman fights ABQ after city takes her car based on son’s arrest

In April, the city of Albuquerque seized Arlene Harjo’s car after police charged her son for driving under the influence of alcohol. Harjo said she lent the car to her son after he asked to use it to go to the gym. Instead, he went to visit his girlfriend in Texas and was pulled over and arrested by police on his way back. To get her car back, the city told Harjo she had to pay $4,000. Plus, city law enforcement would keep a boot on her car for a year and half before she could drive it again.

Eight bills Gov. Martinez vetoed

The State Legislature passed 101 bills this year and sent them to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. Out of those, Martinez vetoed eight with veto messages. Martinez had to decide by Wednesday at noon whether or not to sign or veto legislation. Related Story: Ten biggest vetoed capital outlay projects

Along with the eight vetoed bills, Martinez provided veto messages. We included the intention of the bill and portions of the governor’s message on vetoing the legislation for each of these below.

Increased DWI penalties bill heads to Gov

A Senate bill that would increase DWI penalties passed its last stop early Wednesday morning before heading to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk for a signature. The almost hour long debate on the House floor consisted of one Democrat arguing against increased penalties that are inconsistent with other statutes. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said the bill was aimed at punishment when it should be aimed at preventative measures. “We can’t just throw numbers out there and try to out do each other and think we’re going to change anything,” Maestas said. A common theme this legislative session is cracking down on crime through increased penalties.

DWI bills advance from Senate committee

A Senate committee passed two bills that would increase DWI penalties on Wednesday evening. One bill is sponsored by both Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, and Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes, R-Albuquerque. The other is sponsored by Maestas Barnes and Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington. Maestas Barnes and Munoz presented both of their bills to the Senate Judiciary Committee together. Both bills passed on bipartisan votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

House passes bills for stricter DWI laws

The House passed three bills on Thursday night that would increase penalties on crimes related to DWI. One would create a felony for those caught with a DWI while driving on a revoked license, another would add the fourth DWI penalty—which is the first DWI that qualifies as a felony—to the habitual offender statute and the third would increase penalties for the fourth through seventh DWI by a year and increases someone’s eighth DWI from a third degree felony to a second degree felony. The most-discussed bill involved creating a felony for a DWI while on a revoked license, though it was another smaller provision that was most controversial. Instead, it was the section that said anyone who knowingly permits someone on a revoked license will receive a felony that had many raising hypotheticals including those of a husband and wife who co-own a car. Rep. Paul Pacheco, R-Albuquerque, said that the concerns were overblown.

Harsher DWI penalties pass House committee

Dueling philosophies between lawmakers on how to solve that state’s problem with drunk driving peppered debate in a House committee Thursday afternoon. Lawmakers in the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee heard three bills to add penalties to DWIs, all of which passed on mostly partisan grounds. Two of the bills, in fact, were called “Increase Certain DWI Penalties.”

One makes driving a car with a revoked driver’s license a fourth degree felony while punishing those who knowingly allow people with revoked licenses drive their cars. Another increases penalties for the fourth DWI by a year and ups someone’s eighth DWI from a third degree felony to a second degree felony. The third bill seeks to add DWI sentences to state habitual offender laws.

A look at crime bills coming this year

Next week marks the beginning of this year’s legislative session. This is a short session which means the main focus will be on budgetary issues—along with what Gov. Susana Martinez deems important enough to be discussed. If the legislation that has been prefiled is any indication, this session will also see a number of crime bills, both in reform and increased penalty efforts. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, told NM Political Report that lawmakers need to to take a look at laws that can put an end to repeat offenders. “What concerns me are those individuals who show a propensity to violence again and again,” Gentry said.

A second look at what’s been filed so far

New Mexico’s Legislative session starts in about four days and state lawmakers are still busy prefiling legislation. New Mexico Political Report previously looked at early bills regarding driver’s licenses, minimum wage and right to work legislation. Since then, duplicate bills were filed regarding some of those issues. Here’s a look at what has been filed in January so far.  Schools
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos, filed a joint resolution this month that aims to limit class sizes by the 2022-2023 school year.