Thursday News Roundup: NM Incumbents Hold Campaign Cash Edge

Jul 17, 2014

New Mexico Incumbents Hold Campaign Cash EdgeThe Associated Press

New campaign finance reports show that Democratic challenger Roxanne "Rocky" Lara has raised more money in the past three months than Republican incumbent Steve Pearce in New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District race.

However, Pearce still maintains an overall campaign cash advantage.

Pearce reported cash-on-hand of nearly $1.5 million at the end of last month and Lara had almost $712,000.

According to Federal Election Commission reports, Lara raised $375,000 from April through June. Pearce had receipts of $289,000.

In the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District, Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham reported a cash balance of about $923,000 and Republican Michael Frese had $12,000.

In the 3rd District of northern New Mexico, Democratic incumbent Ben Ray Lujan had cash-on-hand of nearly $582,000 and Republican Jefferson Byrd had $9,100.

Companies Settle Allegations Of Lacking Licenses - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Arizona and Minnesota companies that worked on a railroad construction project in New Mexico will pay fines totaling $150,000 to settle allegations that didn't have necessary state licenses when they bid on the work.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the settlement accepted Wednesday by the state Construction Industries Commission resulted from closed-door talks between state officials and representatives of Tempe, Arizona-based Sundt Construction and Burnside, Minnesota-based Ames Construction.

The companies helped build Union Pacific's new rail hub in southern New Mexico. The facility at Santa Teresa opened in April.

Sundt General Counsel Randy Nye says the company is pleased to have the matter behind it and says there was no deliberate intent to avoid obtaining the proper licenses in New Mexico.

The companies previously denied any wrongdoing.

Albuquerque Officer In Beating Video Loses License - The Associated Press

The state law enforcement certificate has been revoked for an Albuquerque police officer fired after a video showed him kicking a suspected car thief.

The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board voted Wednesday to rescind the license for John Doyle.

Former Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz fired Doyle and officer Robert Woolever for excessive force in connection with the February 2011 arrest of Nicholas Blume. A surveillance video of the arrest shows one officer on top of Blume while another kicks him repeatedly.

This week the officers filed a federal lawsuit against the Albuquerque Police Officers' Association, alleging breach of contract and civil conspiracy.

Thomas Grover, the officers' lawyer, says the men were made scapegoats to try and prevent a U.S. Justice Department investigation into Albuquerque police.

Veterans Affairs Secretary To Visit New Mexico - The Associated Press

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Sloan Gibson is scheduled to visit the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albuquerque as New Mexico's system works to whittle down its patient waiting list.

Gibson is expected Thursday to meet with hospital staff and officials to discuss ways the hospital can improve care amid a national outcry over treatment delays and patient deaths.

Last week, the New Mexico's congressional delegation sent Gibson a letter expressing concern over the handling of a veteran's death in the hospital's cafeteria.

Dispatch tapes revealed 71-year-old Jim Napoleon Garcia was on the floor as an ambulance was called to take him to an emergency room 500 yards away.

The latest audit shows there were 482 veterans on the state's electronic waiting list, down from more than 1,040 a month ago.

NM Forest Closes Area To Protect Endangered Mouse - The Associated Press

The Lincoln National Forest has decided to close the Mauldin Spring area near Cloudcroft in an effort to protect an endangered mouse.

Forest officials announced the closure order yesterday, saying it has a responsibility to prevent any damage to the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse's habitat under the Endangered Species Act. The closure will be in effect until Nov. 30.

The order means people and livestock must stay out of the Mauldin Springs riparian area along Wills Canyon. Officials say the public can use existing trails outside of the closed area.

Ranchers, elected officials and others in New Mexico have been critical of the U.S. Forest Service following disputes on the Lincoln and Santa Fe forests over access to public land and water rights.

Critics are questioning whether the latest decision violates federal law.

NM Congressman Discusses Trip To Central AmericaThe Associated Press

U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce says more than 200 Central American immigrants being held at a federal detention facility in southern New Mexico have been processed by immigration officials and are awaiting approval from their home countries to be returned.

The New Mexico Republican says that approval has yet to come despite assurances by Guatemalan officials.

Pearce and members of a working group established by House Speaker John Boehner traveled to Guatemala and Honduras over the weekend to talk with both countries about the immigration crisis that has engulfed the U.S. border.

Pearce told reporters yesterday that both countries said they wanted their children returned.

And while no one in either country downplayed the violence there, he said residents the delegation spoke with were more concerned about their economic situations.

Law Enforcement Academy Votes For Training Changes - The Associated Press

The board for the state's main law enforcement academy has decided to undo training changes that lowered firearms scores and equalized physical tests among male and female cadets.

The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy board voted unanimously to reverse the changes adopted last year by director Jack Jones following complaints by police chiefs and sheriffs that the academy wasn't properly preparing cadets.

Officials had said the changes could reduce police shootings, although some critics argued otherwise.

The board voted to adopt a new curriculum, but the handful of protesters gathered outside continued with their criticism.

Board members asked Jones for copies of the old curriculum so they could compare it to the latest changes and determine at their next meeting whether any more alterations need to be made.

Former NM Gov. Anaya Settles SEC Fraud Charges - The Associated Press

Former New Mexico Gov. Toney Anaya has reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in a fraud case involving an investment company that was focused on recovering and selling water from aquifers in New Mexico and elsewhere.

Anaya was one of four charged with concealing from investors that two lawbreakers ran the company, Natural Blue Resources Inc.

The SEC says Anaya, a former chief executive with the company, agreed to a cease-and-desist order without admitting or denying the charges. He's now barred from participating in any offering of a penny stock for at least five years.

The SEC says investors didn't know Natural Blue was secretly controlled by two men who had prior brushes with the law. James Cohen was previously incarcerated for financial fraud and Joseph Corazzi was charged with violating federal securities law.