Santa Fe feels the Bern

Early Friday morning, Lucas Jimenez sat on a concrete slab outside Santa Fe Community College, waiting to rally behind his presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, the senator who has ridden a populist wave railing against big banks and the “corrupt” campaign finance system, and picking up 40 percent of Democratic delegates in the process (so far). Jiminez wore a gray t-shirt emblazoned with the now-famous image of Sanders as a young civil rights activist in 1963, getting dragged away by Chicago police. It’s not unusual for Jimenez, 24, to be on campus at 8 am. He studies here full-time, working towards an associate’s degree in welding. Jimenez says his t-shirt symbolizes Sanders’ authenticity—“That he isn’t just talk.

Police shooting reviews dominate Santa Fe DA’s race

Jennifer Padgett

Santa Fe has become the latest American city where prosecutors’ handling of police shooting cases will at least in part define the battle in a district attorney’s race. As officer shootings have come under increasing scrutiny around New Mexico and across the nation, so, too has the role of prosecutors in determining whether police acted lawfully. This story was reported jointly by New Mexico In Depth and the Santa Fe Reporter. It is reprinted with permission. Last month, Chicago’s top prosecutor was ousted by her primary opponent amid public outcry that she had moved too slowly to prosecute an officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man named Laquan McDonald.

Former Senator pleads not guilty to corruption charges

Phil Griego made his first appearance in court on Monday after being charged with ten crimes related to alleged corruption. Griego pleaded not guilty to the charges connected to the same scandal that resulted in his resignation from the state Senate last year. Griego he violated the state constitution and Senate rules because of a land swap involving a building in Santa Fe when he announced his resignation. In all, the Democrat from San Juan faces ten charges, including felonies.

The state asked for $25,000 bond, but the judge ruled there would be no bond because she didn’t think Griego is a public threat. He was instead released on his own recognizance.

Former Senator charged with felonies, defends self in interview

A former state senator who resigned last year after admitting to violating the state constitution now faces criminal penalties because of a real estate deal after the Attorney General’s office filed charges Monday in district court. Phil Griego faces charges of fraud, violating ethical principles of public service, bribery and solicitation, tampering with public records and violating the state Financial Disclosure Act. In all, the Democrat from San Jose faces nine charges, including multiple felonies

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information comes in. The investigation from the office of Attorney General Hector Balderas began a month after Griego resigned. Griego admitted at the time that he violated the New Mexico Constitution, a Senate Rule and the Senate Oath of Ethical Conduct.

Senators: We didn’t kill ethics commission

A handful of state senators explained to reporters this year’s death of a bill creating an independent ethics commission, contending it was more than their committee simply killing the measure. Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said “a lot has been made about the actions of the [Senate] Rules Committee” suggesting actions that “the Rules committee has not taken.”

Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, carried a bill that would have allowed general election voters to amend the state constitution to create an independent ethics commission to investigate corruption complaints against public officials. After passing the House, Dines withdrew his bill after disagreements with the Senate Rules Committee over changes made in a committee substitute that was never moved. Related Story: A brief history of the Legislature rejecting ethics commissions. Ivey-Soto contended that Senate proposals that would require people making complaints against public officials to be held under penalty of perjury for filing frivolous complaints were suggestions, not requirements.

Emails won’t be shielded, but defendants must disclose info in leaked email lawsuit

A federal magistrate judge Monday rejected a motion to protect hundreds of leaked emails from top staffers in the governor’s office from a high profile case among other measures. Plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit involving leaked emails from the 2010 campaign account of Gov. Susana Martinez will now also be able to conduct discovery on the defendants. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephan Vidmar limited the discovery to just a handful of issues: what emails were intercepted, who intercepted the emails, who publicly disclosed the intercepted emails and why they publicly disclosed them. The judge made rulings against motions by both sides. The developments mark the latest fallout in one of the longest ongoing scandals in Martinez’s governorship.

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.

Copper Rule opponents file brief with state Supreme Court

An environmental law firm is opposition to the rule regulating the groundwater at copper mines to the state Supreme Court. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center announced Monday afternoon that they filed a brief with the New Mexico Supreme Court calling on the court to set aside the controversial rule. The NMELC filed the brief on behalf of Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Amigos Bravos and Turner Ranch Properties, L.P. The brief says that the Copper Rule adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission is in violation of state law, something the New Mexico Environment Department has denied. “The Rule violates the Water Quality Act because it imposes no limit on the magnitude, extent, or duration of the pollution discharged by copper mines,” says, NMELC Executive Director and lead attorney on the case. “The Act mandates that New Mexico’s ground water be protected.

Report: PED licensed superintendent based on forged credentials

A Las Vegas Optic investigation into whether a Mora superintendent forged his state educator administration credentials is prompting at least two outside investigations into the matter. Over the weekend, the newspaper ran a story it had been working on for five months concluding that Mora Independent Schools District Superintendent Charles E. Trujillo, in the story’s own words, “faked his credentials in order to qualify for the administrative license he received.” The discrepancies include Trujillo faking a Highlands University transcript to show that he had a Master’s Degree, lying that he was employed as an education administrator for seven years instead of two and a half years and exaggerating that he worked as an adjunct instructor at Luna Community College for six years instead of three years. The state Public Education Department (PED), according to the Optic story, gave Trujillo an administrative license based on his Master’s Degree, for having more than six years experience as an education administrator and more than six years experience as an instructor. All ended up being not true, according to the Optic.

12 more medical marijuana providers approved, no names released

The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Monday that they were offering licenses to 12 more non-profits to grow medical marijuana. New Mexico now has 35 licensed medical marijuana providers, though the process is not complete for the approved non-profits. If you want to know who these non-profits are, you will have to keep waiting, because the department kept the veil of secrecy that surrounds the program up. Open government advocates and journalists have sought more information on the applicants and past approved non-profits to little effect. DOH did release some information about the non-profits, including which counties the non-profits will operate in.