Feds tight-lipped on weeding out corrupt border agents

In a video message intended for the tens of thousands of men and women working to keep drugs and people from illegally entering the United States, then-Deputy Border Patrol Chief Ron Colburn wanted to leave little doubt about the consequences for those who betrayed their mission. “The light of justice will ultimately drive you from the shadows,” Colburn said in the 2009 message, one of many produced by the agency to combat corruption in its ranks. “You will find no safe haven among fellow criminals. You will be identified. You will be arrested.

Heinrich blocks intelligence authorization bill over privacy concerns

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich put a hold on an intelligence bill over what his office calls a “massive expansion of government surveillance.”

Heinrich’s office announced the hold on the Intelligence Authorization Act, which essentially blocks the legislation, on Tuesday morning. Heinrich said that he is doing so because of concerns over the constitutionality of the expanded authorization for domestic surveillance. At issue are National Security Letters, which the federal government can use to get information without approval from a judge. The Electronic Privacy Information Center says the letters give “the FBI the power to compel the disclosure of customer records held by banks, telephone companies, Internet Service Providers, and others.”

The proposal would expand the list of information the FBI could get using these letters. “This represents a massive expansion of government surveillance and gives the FBI access to law-abiding Americans’ email and browser histories without judicial approval or independent oversight,” Heinrich said in a statement.

Officials: ‘Islamic refugee’ report in NM by conservative site false

It didn’t take long for a local TV station to shoot down a report by a conservative website that authorities arrested an “Islamic refugee” in New Mexico after actually calling the law enforcement allegedly involved. Judicial Watch reported the arrest on Wednesday and cited law enforcement sources. The report said the Luna County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and the FBI were involved in the arrest. The website claimed the woman was arrested by a Luna County sheriff’s deputy with gas pipeline plans. But when KRQE-TV actually called the named local and federal law enforcement, all said the report was not true.

FBI spy planes flew over Albuquerque

A Buzzfeed investigation found that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security flew spy planes over cities throughout the country—including Albuquerque. The investigation found that the planes were equipped with high-resolution cameras and occasionally devices that could track cell phones below. The FBI preferred small aircraft, mostly Cessnas. Many were ”fitted with exhaust mufflers to reduce engine noise,” according to Buzzfeed. The data on the flights themselves came from Flightradar24, a flight-tracking website.

Ex-Martinez campaign aides want answers on dropped FBI probe

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.

Gov’s top political adviser will not face charges

The smoke surrounding an FBI investigation into a top political adviser did not result in any fire. That’s what an attorney for Jay McCleskey said on Friday, saying that the grand jury investigation into McCleskey is over and that McCleskey will not be facing any charges. The Albuquerque Journal first reported the news. “We have been informed that the investigation has been terminated and no charges will be forthcoming,” Kennedy told the newspaper. NM Political Report confirmed with Kennedy over the phone that the investigation is over.

Report: NM fourth-most dangerous state in the U.S.

New Mexico is once again the fourth-most dangerous state in the country, at least according to the latest yearly survey of violent crime by 24/7 Wall Street. The annual survey from the financial news website is based mainly from violent crime rates from the FBI 2014 Uniform Crime Report, which is the most comprehensive look at crime in the nation. It will be sure to fuel the effort from New Mexico Republican legislative leadership and Gov. Susana Martinez to pass “tough on crime” bills this upcoming legislative session. Republicans this session are supporting a tougher state “three strikes” law against violent repeat offenders, adding law enforcement officers as a protected class in the state’s Human Rights Act and increasing their pay. “The data clearly shows that violent crime in New Mexico is too high, and we need to do something about it,” State Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, said in a prepared statement from House Republicans.

Number two story of 2015: FBI investigation

The end of 2015 brought explosive news that the FBI were conducting investigations on New Mexico state government and Gov. Susana Martinez’ top political operative, Jay McCleskey. The first report, by the Santa Fe New Mexican, mentioned that federal authorities were looking into campaign spending by Martinez during her first gubernatorial campaign in 2010 and also spending from her first inaugural committee in 2011. We are counting down the top ten stories through the end of the year with expanded recaps or personal recollections from the three members of the team. Tune in each morning to see what the next story is. Previous: Stories 10-6.

Feds subpoenaed info from Gov’s time as DA

A federal grand jury wanted information related to potential wrongdoing in the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s office when current governor Susana Martinez was DA, according to a report by The Santa Fe New Mexican this weekend. The news is the latest in a series of revelations about federal investigators looking into the Martinez administration and campaign side. Martinez’s office has repeatedly said there is no wrongdoing. A spokesman for the governor told The New Mexican that the governor is not being investigated. The latest, in part, follows headlines in 2014 when the Santa Fe Reporter wrote about allegations that the Martinez used the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database for opposition research during her 2010 campaign for governor.

Here’s why NM is ranked as the worst-run state in the U.S.

If you’ve been reading 24/7 Wall St. recently, you’ll note that it doesn’t have much good to say about New Mexico. The New York financial news website is getting a lot of local attention for ranking New Mexico at the bottom of its annual Best and Worst Run States in America survey. But just how did the news organization come to its conclusions? Four researchers spent roughly four months gathering data to make the list, according to 24/7 Wall St.