A bill to conceal the names of victims of certain violent crimes from public-records disclosure is headed to the New Mexico House of Representatives for consideration. Senate Bill 118 would create an exception regarding law enforcement records before charges are filed against any suspect. It would redact the names of victims and non-law enforcement witnesses from public records of crimes involving assault, stalking, rape and criminal sexual contact. The House Judiciary Committee voted 14-0 to support the bill, discussing it only briefly. The Senate approved the bill 41-0 last week.
Leonard Waites was surprised. The executive director of the state Martin Luther King Jr. Commission had just learned from a reporter that Mayor Tim Keller had hired former U.S. Attorney and defeated congressional candidate Damon Martinez as a senior policy adviser for the Albuquerque Police Department. Waites, who is black and also serves as chairman of the Albuquerque Police Oversight Board, was outraged last year by the results of a large-scale federal law enforcement operation. Overseen by Martinez, agents had arrested a grossly disproportionate number of black people for relatively minor crimes in 2016. “I have very, very serious concerns about this,” Waites said Monday of Martinez’s hire, adding that he had heard nothing about it from the Keller administration.
Women dominated contested congressional races in the Democratic and Republican primaries on Tuesday. Former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Deb Haaland won the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary election late Tuesday night. Haaland picked up more than 40 percent of the votes in race with five other names on the ballot. About three hours after the polls closed, Haaland addressed her supporters packed into a small business space in Albuquerque Nob Hill, which also serves as her campaign office. “I am honored by all of your presence here,” Haaland told the crowd.
President Donald Trump nominated a Santa Fe attorney to be the next U.S. Attorney for New Mexico. Trump announced Wednesday morning that John C. Anderson is his choice for the position, which has been vacant for nearl yeight months. U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, both Democrats, and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, suggested Anderson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Federici as candidates for the position, which has been empty since March 10 when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked Damon Martinez and more than 40 other U.S. Attorneys to resign. “The New Mexico delegation worked closely together to identify and recommend qualified New Mexicans for federal law enforcement appointments,” a letter from the three members of the delegation said. “We appreciate that the White House acted on our recommendations for U.S. attorney, and we offer our sincere congratulations to John Anderson.”
The U.S. Senate will need to confirm his appointment.
The “groundbreaking research” Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry commissioned on crime — the city’s No. 1 issue — may sit on a shelf unused when his successor takes office Dec. 1. Why? The two candidates headed for a mayoral runoff election next month, two-term Republican city councilor Dan Lewis and Democratic state Auditor Tim Keller, said the information about crime concentration likely won’t guide their crime-fighting plans if elected.
Damon Martinez says he would take “seriously” allegations of racial profiling and other questionable tactics alleged about a four-month federal drug and gun sting operation last year if he were still U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. But he won’t say how he viewed his responsibilities for the operation while in the job, which he held until March of this year. He won’t even say whether his former job would have included oversight of the increasingly controversial sting operation despite U.S. Department of Justice manuals describing some of those responsibilities. This story originally appeared at New Mexico In Depth and is reprinted with permission. “I can’t discuss the facts concerning this case,” Martinez said of the 2016 operation, conducted largely by the federal bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
New Mexico’s U.S. senators and lone Republican member of the congressional delegation submitted names for New Mexico’s next U.S. Marshal and U.S. Attorney. U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce sent the letters to President Trump and copies to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The positions are subject to Senate approval. The U.S. Attorney position has been vacant for two months since the resignation of Damon Martinez. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked for the resignation of all U.S. Attorneys at that time, a standard practice at the start of a new presidential administration.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked the remaining U.S. Attorneys appointed by Barack Obama to resign on Friday. Damon Martinez, the U.S. Attorney from New Mexico, resigned Friday, according to a statement from his office. First Assistant U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney is the Acting U.S. Attorney until a new U.S. Attorney is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. A U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman announced in a statement Friday afternoon “many” of the Obama-nominated U.S. Attorneys had already left their positions. “The Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition,” Sarah Isgur Flores said.
Top city officials said that the Department of Justice told them that APD could not look at other departments for model policies to reform the troubled department. The only problem with that serious allegation? It’s not true, at least not according to the U.S. Attorney. The Albuquerque Journal reported that U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez wrote in a letter to Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry and City Council President Dan Lewis that he was “perplexed” at the allegations, made by both APD’s Assistant Chief and the Albuquerque City Attorney. In fact, Martinez said he has encouraged city leadership and police to look at other departments over how they implemented reforms.
APD has to make reforms after a damning DOJ report that found a history and pattern of unconstitutional policing, which included fatal shootings by officers and other usages of excessive force.
Two former fundraisers for Gov. Susana Martinez are demanding answers on why the federal Department of Justice dropped an investigation into Martinez’s top political operative. Earlier this month, both Andrea Goff and Cecilia Martinez wrote letters to U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez detailing their cooperation with the FBI investigation into Jay McCleskey and the retaliation they said they experienced as a result.
New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan first reported on and published the letters earlier today. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed receipt of the letters but would not comment further on them, citing a policy that the office doesn’t comment on investigations. When asked if that policy includes closed investigations, the spokeswoman said, “correct.”
NM Political Report also sent voicemails and emails to McCleskey and a spokesman for Gov. Martinez. We’ll update this post if we receive a response.