The New York Times reported a former state representative in New Mexico told a female lobbyist he would vote for a bill a client supported if she had sex with him, then kissed her. That was part of a story the newspaper wrote about lobbyists facing sexual harassment in state capitals around the nation. The allegation brought up by Vanessa Alarid, still a prominent lobbyist, accused former State Rep. Thomas A. Garcia of making the proposition and the unwanted kiss. Garcia was a member of the Legislature for three terms, from 2006 to 2012. The Democrat denied the allegation.
Two campaign ethics bills moved forward from a Senate panel on Monday as the end of the legislative session neared. The Senate Rules Committee passed both bills, but they received very different receptions. Sen. Lee Cotter, R-Las Cruces, had a bill that would give the Secretary of State’s office access to campaign banking records to better accomplish audits. “It allows the Secretary of State to go into my account, your accounts, and check what the checks were written for and how the deposits were without getting a court order,” Cotter said. The proposal passed with no recommendation after Senators expressed concerns that it would provide access to campaign banking records by political appointees in the Secretary of State’s office.
The big spending by a political action committee in the recent Las Cruces elections is receiving national attention. USA Today cited the spending by GOAL WestPAC in trying to defeat incumbent mayor Ken Miyagishima as one way that money is increasingly flooding into local elections. In New Mexico, the focus of the Goal WestPAC is “the economic and business climate” in the state, said Mark Murphy, the PAC’s chairman and president of Strata Production, an oil-and-gas exploration company in Roswell, N.M., about 180 miles northeast of Las Cruces. Murphy and his company also have donated $35,000 to the super PAC, records show. PAC officials decided to target Miyagishima and city politicians over what Murphy called a “history of overregulation and taxation,” including support for a 2013 gross receipts tax.
Comments made about rape during a committee hearing last week are now drawing demands for an apology from a Republican lawmaker. The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote a story about Rep. Kelly Fajardo, R-Albuquerque, demanding an apology from Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, over what he said in the House Judiciary Committee on legislation to take parental rights away from rapists. “Rape is defined in many ways, and some of it is just drunken college sex,” Martinez said according to the New Mexican. From the New Mexican: “It is simply inexcusable that Rep. Kenny Martinez dismissed a serious crime as nothing more than a night of ‘drunken college sex,’ “Fajardo said in a news release. “His comments are belittling to anyone who has ever been a victim and survivor of sexual abuse, and I hope that he will apologize.”
More changes are afoot at the Secretary of State’s office. After four years, Bureau of Elections Director Bobbi Shearer will leave her position. Shearer will stay with the office on a short term basis to work on “legislative initiations and other election related issues” according to an email from Secretary of State Dianna Duran. Chief of Staff Ken Ortiz confirmed to New Mexico Political Report that Rod Adair, most recently a spokesman for the Secretary of State, is also no longer at the office. Duran made the announcement about Shearer, obtained by New Mexico Political Report, in an email to county clerks throughout the state.