April 1, 2016

Odds and Ends: Luján slams Trump; behavioral health provider leaves

Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump at CPAC 2011. Flickr /cc

—How Ben Ray Luján feels about Trump

We have a feeling that Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, will not be entertaining the idea of voting for Trump this November.

From CNN:

“Donald Trump has been saying some of the most inflammatory, hateful, discriminatory, racist, filled-with-misogyny comments we’ve ever heard — not just from a candidate for office, but especially a candidate seeking the nomination for president of the United States,” House Democratic campaign chairman Ben Ray Lujan, the first Hispanic to hold the job, told CNN.

A former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman noted that Republicans were likely to keep the House thanks to districts being drawn in a friendly way for Republicans in many states.

—Our stories

Before we get to the rest on a busy Friday, here’s our stories from today:

Back to the run down…

—Another behavioral health provider leaves.

The behavioral health shakeups continue to reverberate, years later.

A third behavioral health provider from Arizona left the state  the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Friday.

Agave Health, Inc. was one of three firms brought in to fill the gap created when the state Human Services Department cut off Medicaid funding to 15 providers citing “credible allegations of fraud.” The company is now leaving, meaning that three of the five providers brought in from Arizona are now gone.

The company services the Santa Fe area and will remain for another 90 days.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Hector Balderas cleared ten of the providers from allegations of fraud. This brings the total to 13.

Democrats in the congressional delegation filed legislation to stop future such shakeups from health providers.

—MALDEF wants TRD to give immigrants their tax returns

A Latino rights group wants the state district court to stop holding tax returns from immigrants who use Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs).

MALDEF requested an injunction in state district court asking for the money to be released; the organization filed a suit over a year ago seeking the release of the money that is withheld from immigrants who file taxes using ITINs.

MALDEF says in those suits that TRD is violating federal law by withholding the tax returns and requesting additional information because the tax returns are filed using ITINs instead of Social Security numbers.

Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a prominent immigrant rights group in the state, also joined in the request.

“Withholding monies owed to hardworking immigrants is the act of rogues and swindlers, not of legitimate government,” Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel, said in a statement. “These monies should be circulating in the New Mexico economy, not held by a government agency acting outside its authority, while the court decides the issues in these important cases.”

We reached out to the Public Information Officer for TRD for a response, but did not receive one by press time.

—Fight over jobs at job fair

The Republican Party of New Mexico has made no secret of its hope to oust Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez from his spot in the state Senate. A recent attack shows they’re not letting up in an election year.

The party claimed in a press release this week that at a recent job fair put on by Sanchez, there was only one private business hiring.

“A job fair with no jobs is really a perfect metaphor for the Democrats economic policies,” Republican Party of New Mexico Spokesman Tucker Keene said. “Perhaps if Michael Sanchez and the Senate Democrats hadn’t repeatedly stood in the way of pro-job legislation there would have been more private-sector businesses to attend a job fair and hire qualified workers.”

The Democratic Party of New Mexico fired back on Friday and said there were “more than 30 employers and 70 job seekers.”

“When you have no record to run on, I guess all you can do is attack the other guy, and that is what New Mexico Republicans are doing today. Governor Susana Martinez and her puppet Republican majority in the House of Representatives have given New Mexico the highest unemployment and the worst economic performance in the country,” Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Deb Haaland said. “Their policy of putting corporations first, and families and students last, has been a disaster for our state – that’s why job fairs like Senator Sanchez’ are so necessary and important. Republicans will have to answer for their record when voters go to the polls in November.”

—Toulouse Oliver gets national endorsement

New Mexico Secretary of State candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver received an official endorsement on Friday from Democracy for America, a progressive political group.

It’s no surprise that Toulouse received a nod from the group, as she is the only Democratic candidate running for the spot.

In a statement, DFA’s Chairman Jim Dean said Toulouse is the best candidate to push for more progressive ideals.

“If we’re going to tackle income inequality, beat back money’s outsized role in politics, and confront structural racism in our country, we need Secretaries of State like Maggie Toulouse Oliver who deeply believe that everyone’s voice should be heard in our elections and are looking for ways to make it easier, not harder, for citizens to vote,” Dean said.

Toulouse Oliver said she is honored to get the endorsement and that her race is “more than a campaign.”

“We need to ensure accountability, transparency and public trust in the office,” Toulouse Oliver said in a statement.

Toulouse Oliver is running against Republican Nora Espinoza, who is finishing out her last term in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The two are running in the rare presidential-year statewide race because Dianna Duran resigned shortly before pleading guilty to multiple campaign finance crimes.