Albuquerque-based CSI Aviation Inc., owned by Allen Weh, a former GOP candidate for New Mexico governor and U.S. Senate, has won multiple contracts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for transportation and relocation services that occurred in 2017 and 2018, a review of federal government databases shows.In a June 23 news release HHS said when families are apprehended at the border they’re processed first by the U.S. Border Patrol, which then separates the children, placing them in the custody of the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The parents are sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for processing. There were 2,053 “separated minors” in HHS facilities on June 20, which is 17 percent of minors under the care of HHS, the agency said. The remaining 83 percent are minors who arrived to the U.S. on their own, without a parent or guardian. It’s unclear whether HHS contracted CSI to fly immigrant children to and from the federal agency’s facilities.
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.
A U.S. Senate panel’s confirmation hearing for former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson stuck mostly to the nuts and bolts of what her duties as the next secretary of the Air Force may entail. But her previous scandals related to her post-Congress business connections came up more than once during the three hour meeting before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday morning. The panel did not vote on Wilson’s nomination to the post. The committee’s ranking member Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, posed questions to Wilson about her controversies working as a private contractor for national laboratories and her lobbying for weapons contractor Lockheed Martin. In quizzing Wilson about her private defense contracting work, Reed brought up the conclusions of a federal investigation that found that Sandia National Laboratories wrongly paid Wilson for services that federal law bars compensation for.
More than a year before announcing his candidacy in a high-profile race for a state senate seat, Diego Espinoza filed a defamation lawsuit against a 2014 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. The lawsuit alleged that Espinoza experienced “public and personal humiliation,” among other damages, after candidate David Clements accused him of hacking his campaign email account. Now, nine months after a judge dismissed the case with prejudice, Clements can still publicly make the allegation against Espinoza. “If there’s any benefit or silver lining to deal with Espinoza’s frivolous lawsuit, it’s that to the day I die I can tell anyone who asks me, ‘Yeah, he hacked me,’” Clements, who ran for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014 on a libertarian-minded platform, said. Espinoza was campaign manager for Clements’ Republican primary opponent Allen Weh.
Only five New Mexicans gave a total of $32,000 to the joint fundraising committee that held a $10,000-per-person event in Albuquerque in late May. It’s unlikely the Trump Victory joint fundraising committee raised the $230,000 some might have expected for the May 24 event attended by 23 people who had paid to be there. A spokesman for the New Mexico GOP gave NMID that attendance number last month. Three New Mexicans donated $10,000 each while two others gave $1,000 each to the Trump Victory committee, according to a report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission listing donations through June 30. Another joint fundraising committee for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump netted $13,450 from New Mexicans during the same period, records show.
A politically connected Republican announced on Wednesday that he will be challenging a state senator in a key swing district next year. Diego Espinoza announced that he will seek the District 9 seat currently held by Democrat John Sapien. Espinoza, a program director for CSI Aviation, has experience in running campaigns, if not his own. Espinoza was the campaign manager for Allen Weh’s unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Senate in 2014 and governor in 2010. Weh owns CSI Aviation and Weh is the father of current Republican Party of New Mexico chairwoman Debbie Maestas.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]ALLEN WEH was the 2014 Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Mr. Weh is currently the CEO of CSI Aviation Inc. [/box]
To the surprise of virtually no one, the minimum wage is now being debated in the current state legislative session. A Democratic legislative initiative to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.50 was recently tabled in a House Committee on a 4-3 vote, and opponents and proponents were vocal on their respective merits of the issue. Of note, an Albuquerque Journal article on Feb. 3 cited a “recent Journal poll found that 68 percent of New Mexico voters supported an increase in the minimum wage (but didn’t specify how much) while 27 percent opposed any increase.”
A few months ago in the Senate race, I sought to advance a creative idea that would raise the minimum wage for some, while creating incentives for small businesses and opportunities for our youngest workers.