Black community leaders and citizens want to know who invited out-of-town federal agents and informants into Albuquerque and how the decision was made to focus an undercover sting operation on an impoverished, largely minority section of the city, netting a highly disproportionate number of black defendants. They plan to put those and other questions into a letter to the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “We want to know exactly what happened and why,” said Patrick Barrett, a member of the two organizations drafting the letter — the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Sankofa Men’s Leadership Exchange, a grassroots organization of black men. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. Barrett and others interviewed for this story were reacting to a NMID investigation of the sting published last month.
U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts led 11 senators in calling for an investigation into Attorney General Jeff Sessions and whether his role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey violated his recusal from any investigation into Russian ties with those close to President Donald Trump. The letter, which was also signed by New Mexico U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, was sent to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday. In the letter, the senators said Session’s “recusal language itself could not be clearer.”
They also seek answers to three questions: to what extent Sessions was required to recuse himself from the investigation, the scope of his recusal and the timeline of his involvement in Comey’s firing. The letter notes that Sessions met with Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss the removal of Comey on May 8.
Hours after Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was reprimanded for challenging the integrity of a fellow Senator by reading a letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., New Mexico U.S. Sen. Tom Udall read the letter on the Senate floor without question. Later on Wednesday, new Mexico’s other U.S. Senator read part of the Coretta Scott King letter and criticized the Senate for their actions on Warren. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i715XvBCkio&feature=youtu.be
Tuesday night, Warren tried to read the letter before her senate colleagues. King’s letter criticized Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions when he unsuccessfully sought a judgeship in the 1980s. In the letter, Coretta Scott King said she opposed his confirmation to a federal judgeship.
The head of troubled for-profit college watchdog, Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, has stepped down, the agency said Monday in a statement. The resignation of Albert Gray, who served as ACICS’ president and chief executive officer for the past seven years, comes at a precarious time for the accreditor. Last week, a dozen state attorneys general called on the Department of Education to revoke the accreditor’s recognition. Without recognition, the hundreds of mostly for-profit colleges that the accreditor oversees could lose access to the federal student aid that makes up the majority of their revenue. Citing ProPublica’s reporting, the state attorneys general said that the actions of the agency had “ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable students whom it was charged to protect.”
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich signed onto a letter to the Secretary of Defense asking for the Pentagon to institute specific anti-discrimination policies applying to gay, lesbian and bisexual service members. “Doing away with the discriminatory military policy of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ brought us closer to achieving full equality for all Americans,” Heinrich told New Mexico Political Report in a statement. “However, current policies have not been updated to protect thousands of our heroic gay and lesbian service members who still face discrimination in the workplace. That’s unacceptable and it must change.” Buzzfeed News was the first to report the letter. The letter calls on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to expand upon the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich announced Friday that he opposes a fast track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, the latest in a line of controversial trade agreements. Heinrich, a Democrat, is going against President Barack Obama in opposing the quick approval of the treaty. The TPP is a rare occasion where Republicans and Obama are on the same page and the deal is expected to get a Senate vote. “They call that Trade Promotion Authority or TPA, but it’s really just re-branded ‘Fast Track’ legislation designed to allow trade deals to be pushed through Congress with little or no debate,” Heinrich wrote on Facebook late last week. Heinrich outlined some of his concerns with possibilities of what could be in the treaty including, saying that changes could not be made if the quick approval makes it through Congress.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]RICK LASS is a graduate of St. John’s College and a veteran of New Mexico politics. A former Green Party candidate for the PRC, Lass is heavily involved in good government and voting rights issues and runs the blog www.votingmatters.net[/box]
Happily, someone in the main stream is talking about the possibilities of a multiparty system. Blogger Philip Bump has a brief piece in the Washington Post imagining our Congress divided into four parties, based on how current members voted on the recent budget bill. From the article: If we assign members of Congress to political parties based on the spending votes, we end up with four parties.