State Ethics Commission Proposes New Disclosure Act; Rogues Gallery Of Corrupt New Mexico Lawmakers

On January 18, the 2022 New Mexico legislature will convene for its 30 day legislative sessions known as the “short session.” The 30 day sessions are dedicated to budget legislation and the agenda is set by the “Governor’s Call”, meaning the Governor dictates was legislation can be considered.

The State Ethics Commission is a 7 member, independent, bipartisan group created in 2019 by the New Mexico State legislature. It became fully operational on January 4, 2020. Under the law creating the Ethics Commission, it issues a report each year recommending amendments to New Mexico’s ethics laws. The Ethics Commission is asking the 2022 legislature for an expansion of its powers, enactment of a legislature Disclosure Act and for additional funding.

NEW DISCLOSURE ACT REQUIREMENTS OF LEGISLATORS

In its 2021 annual report released in December, the State Ethics Commission, called the state’s existing disclosure law for income received by public officials “vague and undemanding.” As it stands now, state lawmakers face broad requirements for disclosing income sources over $5,000. Many draw income from a law firm, farming and ranching, or similarly general categories. The commission now wants to repeal the old law and replace it with the commission’s proposed Disclosure Act.

Specifically, the Ethics Commission is asking for changes to state law that would require New Mexico’s citizen legislators to release more information about their sources of personal income and business relationships. It is also asking for increased transparency requirements for lobbyists. The Ethics Commission wants disclosure of what bills lobbyist are working on and if they are advocating for or against the legislation.

Under the requested changes, any lawmaker to whom it would apply, would have to disclose before voting if any family member lobbied on any bill. Currently, a number of legislators are married to lobbyists thus creating appearance problem to what extent they are influencing any pending vote.

The new Disclosure Act proposed outlines in great detail requirements for the disclosure of personal assets, personal debts, sources of family income over $600, including any spousal and dependent children. The new act would also require disclosure of real property or land holding ownership and values.

The new disclosure requirements will cover membership in corporations and nonprofit groups, gifts of $50 or more from lobbyists and work done by the official or their spouse involving public agencies. Elected state officials, heads of state agencies, candidates and others would have to file annual disclosure statements.

NEW DISCLOSURE ACT REQUIREMENTS OF LOBBYISTS

The new Disclosure Act requirements are designed to shed light on potential conflicts of interest given the fact lobbyists play a crucial role in shaping legislation.

A report by New Mexico Ethics Watch released in 2020 found that 34 former legislators who either retired or who were defeated worked as lobbyists and that another six lobbyists were spouses or relatives of legislators.

Under the new law, lobbyists would have to file 2 separate reports during legislative sessions outlining what bills they are working on, their position on the bills and specific provisions they supported or opposed within the legislation.

The Ethics Commission is proposing a two-year ban on ex-legislators and other state officials from becoming paid lobbyists after they leave public service. “Revolving door” bans have failed to get legislative approval for many years.

STRONG SUPPORT EXPRESSED

Ethics commission spokesman Sonny Haquani said the agency worked with the offices of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and State Auditor, on the proposed Disclosure Act and had this to say:

“[The new disclosure act] … would enable the public to identify conflicts of interest and deter violations of the public trust.”

Heather Ferguson, the executive director of the nonpartisan Common Cause New Mexico, says her organization strongly supports the new law, especially with the gifts to legislator provisions in the new act. Ferguson noted lawmakers are barred from accepting gifts exceeding $250 in value from donors, but the rules are sometimes skirted by deliberately undervaluing some gifts. Ferguson put it this way:

“Over the years, several ethics violation cases have tarnished New Mexico’s reputation and most of them could have been prevented with heightened disclosure laws. … The $250 gift threshold has been flouted openly over the years, especially with the gift passes given to legislators for activities such as multi-area skiing or golf courses throughout the state that are reported to value at just under… the individual threshold. … These questionably valued gifts raise the public’s concerns every year. A lower threshold with increased penalties will help to curb this activity.”

Secretary of State Maggie Talouse Oliver, Attorney General Hector Balderas and State Auditor Brian Colon have all announced support of the new Disclosure Act.

OTHER EXPANDED POWERS

The Ethics Commission is asking the New Mexico legislature to expand the commissions jurisdiction to include the parts of the state Constitution that prohibits profiting from public office and that bans legislators from having an interest in contracts authorized by legislation passed during their term in office. Specifically, the expanded jurisdiction would give the commission authority in 3 major areas over constitutional provisions prohibiting:

1. Increased compensation for public officials during their term of office.

2. Legislators having an interest in any state or city contract that was authorized by law during their term or for one year afterward.

3. State officials who already draw a salary from drawing outside fees or otherwise profiting for their service in public office.

BUDGET INCREASE SOUGHT

During last year’s 2021 legislative session, the Ethics Commission’s budget was cut by 5%. The legislature also expanded the agency’s duties by directing it to handle enforcement related to notaries public. The commission is seeking an increase of 40% over what it received for the 2021 approved budget. The agency is asking for a $1.28 million budget that would begin on July 1, 2022. The budget increase would be dedicated to increasing the commission staff from 5 to 9 employees. The additional funding will be used to hire an attorney, paralegal and database administrator and to restore a “special projects coordinator” whose funding was part of this year’s 5% budget cut.

Links to quoted source material are here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2458308/ethics-agency-calls-for-firmer-disclosure-laws-ex-act-would-require-2.html

https://www.abqjournal.com/2434601/nm-ethics-agency-seeks-expanded-staff-jurisdiction.html

https://pinonpost.com/ethics-commission-asks-for-more-staff-expanded-jurisdiction-to-curb-legislator-corruption/

NEFARIOUS HISTORY OF CORRUPT NEW MEXICO LEGISLATORS

New Mexico has had more than its fair share of public corruption scandals over the years involving State Legislators. The rogue’s gallery of unethical conduct, fraud, theft and abuse of power and influence by New Mexico legislators includes both State Representatives and State Senators. Following are the most notable:

SENATOR ANTHONY LUCERO

Anthony Lucero was an Albuquerque area state senator. In 1974, Lucero, D-Albuquerque, was convicted by a Santa Fe County jury of taking bribes to help people obtain contractor licenses from the state Construction Industries Division.

SENATOR EDDIE BARBOA

Eddie Barboa was an Albuquerque area state senator. In 1975, Barboa, D-Albuquerque, was charged in federal court with possession of heroin with intent to distribute it. The government said that Barboa tried to set up a large sale of heroin with a man he thought was a New York underworld figure, but who was actually an undercover agent. Barboa said that he was trying to stop drug traffic in Albuquerque’s South Valley when he met the agent. But in two trials, Barboa got hung juries. After the second trial, federal prosecutors decided not to retry Barboa.

REPRESENTATIVE RON OLGUIN

Ron Olguin was an Albuquerque area State Representative. In 1992, Olguin was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he was convicted in state District Court of soliciting a $15,000 bribe in exchange for obtaining $100,000 from the Legislature for an Albuquerque crime counseling program. Refusing to resign, he faced censure by the State House of Representatives.

SENATOR MANNY ARAGON

State Senator Manny Aragon was president pro temp of the New Mexico Senate and for decades was considered one of the most powerful and influential state senators in the state history. Aragon pleaded guilty in federal court in 2008 to three felony counts of conspiracy and mail fraud and was sentenced to five and half years. All counts were related to a scheme to defraud the state of nearly $4.4 million in the construction of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Courthouse in Albuquerque. The crimes took place while Aragon was serving as state Senate president pro-tem. In addition to his prison sentence, Aragon was fined $750,000, most of which he’d already forfeited to the government before he was sentenced, and ordered to pay at least $649,000 in restitution. He was released from federal prison in 2013.

SENATOR PHIL GRIEGO

Phil A. Griego was a New Mexico State from 1996 to 2015. The 69 year old was accused of using his elected position and acumen as a real estate broker to guide the sale of a state-owned building in downtown Santa Fe through various approvals without properly disclosing his financial interest. Griego maintained he did nothing wrong in earning a $50,000 commission from buyers of the property. He resigned from the Legislature in 2015. He was convicted of fraud, bribery and felony ethical violations stemming from allegations that he used his position for personal gain has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Griego was sentenced to a 12-year-prison sentence, but all was waived except 18 months, and he was ordered to pay $47,225 in fines and was sentenced to serve five years of supervised probation upon his release from prison.

https://abc7amarillo.com/news/local/former-new-mexico-sen-phil-griego-sentenced-to-18-months-in-prison

REPRESENTATIVE SHERYL WILLIAMS STAPLETON

On September 21, 2021, former state Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton was indicted on 28 criminal charges including racketeering, money laundering and fraud charges in connection with what prosecutors have called an elaborate scheme to financially gain from a deal she helped broker with a Washington, D.C.-based company through her position as the head of the Career and Technical Education department at Albuquerque Public Schools, her employer. According to an affidavit filed in the case, the money amounted embezzled is $954,386.04. The Former House Majority Leader could face 79 years in prison if convicted on all 28 criminal counts. She was fired from the school district. All but two of the charges are felonies, and four charges carry a sentence of nine years of imprisonment and fines up to $10,000. Many of the others carry a basic sentence of 18 months and fines not to exceed $5,000.

Links to quoted source material is here:

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/former-state-lawmaker-williams-stapleton-indicted-on-28-counts/article_ffba17c4-1a2f-11ec-8c45-d3b644960660.html

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/former-nm-rep-sheryl-williams-stapleton-indicted-on-criminal-charges-/6243614/

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/officials-behaving-badly-a-look-back-at-the-misdeeds-of-new-mexico-public-officials/article_5236e7bf-293f-51dd-8f93-f7e739511697.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

New Mexico has had more than its fair share of public corruption scandals over the years. A rogue’s gallery of unethical conduct, fraud, theft and abuse of power and influence in New Mexico politics includes more than just state lawmakers. It includes two former Democrat State Treasurers, Michael Montoya and Robert Vigil, former Republican Secretary of State Dianna Duran, former Republican New Mexico Taxation, and Revenue Secretary Demesia Padilla.

Unproven allegations of “pay to play” plagued the 8-year tenure of Democrat Governor Bill Richardson with a federal grand jury investigation resulting in no indictments and no finding of “pay to play”. Former Republican United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico Gregg Forate, with an obvious strong Republican partisan bias, released a scathing letter of condemnation that accused the Richardson administration of “corrupting” the government contract award process.

During the 8-year tenure of former Republican Governor Susana Martinez, allegations of unethical conduct and undue influence with the award of the billion-dollar, 20-year Downs Race Track Lease, dubbed the “Dirty Downs Deal”, occurred. What also occurred was a federal grand jury investigation of the Republican Governor’s number one political consultant and campaign manager relating to misuse of her inauguration funding.

The fact that the 2022 New Mexico Legislative session is a 30 short session dictates that the New Mexico legislature may not have the stomach to consider the proposed changes. The short session makes it difficult to believe that the legislature will make enactment of the proposed Disclosure Act a priority.

Notwithstanding, the proposed new act is long overdue and needed. The Governor should place it on her call list and the Legislature should make it a top priority. If it fails to make it through, he 2022 session, it should be introduced in the 2023 session to be enacted and signed into law.

The link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2021/11/05/nm-ethics-commission-seeks-expanded-authority-and-funding-slow-start-on-cases-create-agency-formula-funding-source-to-insure-independence-from-legislature/
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POSTSCRIPT

ETHICS COMMISSION EXPLAINED

The New Mexico Ethics Commission is empowered to oversee state public officials, including state lawmakers, state employees and constitutionally elected officials, including the governor. The seven-member commission is empowered to fine public officials if they are found by the commission to have violated civil provisions of state laws. There is no authority to suspend or remove from office elected officials.

POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION

Under the New Mexico Ethics Commission Act, the commission:

“may initiate, receive, investigate and adjudicate complaints alleging violations of, and issue advisory opinions concerning, standards of ethical conduct and other standards of conduct and reporting requirements, as may be provided by law, for state officers and employees of the executive and legislative branches of government, candidates or other participants in elections, lobbyists or government contractors or seekers of government contracts and have such other jurisdiction as provided by law.”

Additionally, the Ethics Commission:

“may require the attendance of witnesses or the production of records and other evidence relevant to an investigation by subpoena as provided by law and shall have such other powers and duties and administer or enforce such other acts as further provided by law.”

Powers and duties of the commission also include the power to develop, adopt and promulgate the rules necessary to implement and administer the provisions of the State Ethics Commission Act.

Absent from the enabling legislation creating the ethics commission is any authority to suspend or remove elected or appointed officials for nefarious or unethical conduct.

https://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/50-state-chart-state-ethics-commissions-powers-a.aspx

COMPLAINT PROCESS

An Ethics Case before the Commission can begin in one of three ways:

1. A complainant may file a complaint with the Commission.
2. Another agency may refer a complaint filed originally with that agency to the Commission.
3. The Commission may initiate a complaint with the approval of at least five Commissioners.

Anyone who files a complaint must secure a notary public and attest to the truth of the allegations in the complaint under penalty of perjury. Although the Ethics Commission accepts only signed complaints, it can also initiate its own complaints with approval from 5 of the 7 commissioners. It can also accept referrals from other agencies.

The attorney appointed as “general counsel” by the seven-member commission serves as an investigator and prosecutor. The commission’s general counsel determines whether a complaint warrants investigation and if so, the general counsel will investigate the allegations made.

The Ethics Commission “hearing officers” are appointed to adjudicate the cases where evidence suggests there is an ethical violation. The hearing officers are required to use the legal standard of “preponderance of evidence” to make the determination if there was an ethical violation and must make specific findings.

The legal term “preponderance of the evidence” means the greater weight of the evidence required for the trier of fact, the hearing officer, to decide in favor of one side or the other. “Preponderance of the evidence” is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence.

The Ethics Commission through its general counsel is empowered to petition a state judge to issue subpoenas for documents and other materials as part of its work and with a judge designated to issue and grant the subpoenas on behalf of the commission itself. A public official who disputes a hearing judge’s finding are given the right to appeal the ruling to the seven-member ethics commission.

Ethics complaints are be made public 30 days after probable cause is found to proceed with an investigation. The ethics commission is prohibited from revealing ethics complaints that have been deemed frivolous or unsubstantiated, but the accuser or accused can publicly disclose the complaints.

The ethics commission is not empowered to investigate violations of legislative policies by legislators, such as sexual harassment policies, unless the Legislature works out an agreement for the ethics commission to investigate such complaints. Even then, if the ethics commission determines that a legislator has violated legislative policy, the ethics commission is required to turn over its findings to the Legislature, which would then in turn determine the legislator’s punishment.

A very significant provision included in the commission powers is authority over include statewide public officials such as the governor, the lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, public land commissioner and state auditor, or candidates for those offices, to those prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions from January 1 through the end of each year’s legislative session. However, the ethics commission has no authority over school board members and local officials such elected Mayors or City Councilors.

The enforcement of the state’s Open Meetings Act and Inspection of Public Records Act is left to the New Mexico Attorney General, and such enforcement is not made part of the duties of the Ethics Commission. State legislators are already prohibited from soliciting campaign contributions from January 1 through the end of each year’s legislative session.

JURISDICTION OF COMMISSION

According to its website, the Commission has “jurisdiction to enforce the civil compliance provisions of eight statutes and one constitutional provision for public officials, public employees, candidates, persons subject to the Campaign Reporting Act, government contractors, lobbyists and lobbyists’ employers”.

Allegations of criminal conduct are referred to law enforcement agencies. The 8 statutes the Ethics Commission is authorized to enforce are strictly civil in nature and provides for civil penalties and fines. The one power or penalty the Ethics Commission is not granted is the power to suspend or remove an elected or public official.

OFFICIALS NOT SUBJECT TO THE COMMISSION’S JURISDICTION

According to its website, the Ethics Commission has limited jurisdiction and only over certain individuals. The Commission’s jurisdiction is limited. It cannot hear complaints alleging violations by local elected officials or local public employees such as county commissioners or municipal employees.

NO JURISDICTION OVER CRIMINAL CONDUCT

The Commission does not hear complaints alleging violations of state or federal criminal laws. The Commission will refer any complaint alleging criminal conduct to the Attorney General, the appropriate District Attorney, or the federal prosecutors. Such a referral does not prevent the Commission from pursuing civil enforcement, either through an administrative hearing or a civil action in state court.

LAWS OUTSIDE THE COMMISSION’S JURISDICTION

The Commission lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate complaints alleging violations of any law that is not expressly provided for in the State Ethics Commission Act including … the Human Rights Act, the Open Meetings Act, the Inspection of Public Records Act, the Extra Compensation Clause of Article IV, Section 27, or the Emoluments Clause of Article XX, Section 9.

LIMITATIONS BASED ON TIME

Three time-based constraints limit the Commission’s jurisdiction:

First, the Commission cannot adjudicate a complaint alleging conduct that occurred more than two years in the past or more than two years after the alleged conduct could reasonably have been discovered.

Second, the Commission lacks jurisdiction over a complaint that is filed against a candidate 60 days before a primary or general election for the pre-election period, unless the complaint alleges a violation of the Campaign Reporting Act or the Voter Action Act.

Third, the Commission lacks jurisdiction over conduct occurring on or before July 1, 2019.”

https://www.sec.state.nm.us/faqs/#Section02

WEBSITE LINK WITH INSTRUCTIONS

The link to the website can be found here:

https://www.sec.state.nm.us/

The website contains a section where the public can sign up for updates from the commission including pending cases and advisory opinions. The website also gives a detail explanation on how a complaint can be filed, gives instructions on how to file an ethics complaint, provides forms and outlines what the complaint needs to allege, including laws believed to have been violated, witnesses and evidence relied upon. The website also provides a guide to respondents and what they must do to respond.

Republican Schill Dan Lewis Loses Council Presidency Despite Vote Of DINO Louis Sanchez; Conservative 3 Stooges Lewis, Grout and Sanchez Begin Their Obstructionist Agenda; Keller Should Respond With Veto Message

After the December 7 City Council runoff election, the city council was split 5 Democrats to 4 Republicans as follows:

District 1 Conservative Democrat Louis Sanchez
District 2 Progressive Democrat Isaac Benton
District 3 Moderate Democrat Klarissa Peña
District 6 Progressive Democrat Pat Davis
District 7 Progressive Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn

District 5 Conservative Republican Dan Lewis
District 4 Moderate Republican Brook Bassan
District 8 Conservative Republican Trudy Jones
District 9 Conservative Republican Renee Grout

Four years ago, and after serving two terms on the city council, Republican District 5 City Councilor Dan Lewis left the city council to run for Mayor. Lewis ran unsuccessfully for Mayor against Tim Keller in 2017. Keller won the 2017 runoff by a decisive landslide by securing 60,219 votes or 62.20% against Dan Lewis who secured 36,594 or 37.8% of the vote. Four years ago, Lewis was replaced by Democrat Cynthia Borrego who Lewis defeated on November 2, 2021 to return to the city council for a third term.

MAJOR TEST FOR DEMOCRAT MAJORITY

The election for a new Albuquerque City Council President and Vice President occurred on Monday, January 10. It was the very first meeting of the new year for the new City Council. The council president appoints all committee chairs. When the votes were taken, and to the surprise of many, progressive Democrat City Councilor Isaac Benton emerged as the new City Council President. Conservative Republican Dan Lewis, nemesis to Mayor Tim Keller, was elected Vice President. It was also announced that moderate conservative Republican Brook Bassan was appointed Chair of the “Committee of the Whole” which is considered the most powerful city council committee in that it presides over the city’s budget process.

The final vote to elect Isaac Benton as the new city council President was 6 to 3 with Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Klarissa Pena, Tammy Fiebelkorn and Republicans Brook Bassan and Trudy Jones voting for Benson. Those voting for Dan Lewis for city council President were Republicans Dan Lewis, Renee Grout and Conservative Democrat Louis Sanchez.

The votes for City Council President and Vice President were considered by many city hall observers as the first major test of whether or not the Progressive Democrats could hold onto a governing majority on a city council that has increasingly become more and more partisan and is now far more conservative after the November 2 elections. After his win on November 2, Republican Dan Lewis made it known that he intended to be the next City Council President. Lewis also made it known he intended to aggressively question Democrat Tim Keller’s department directors, including APD management and Mayor Keller’s representatives in person to hold them “accountable”. Lewis has already made it known to his supporters he intends to run for Mayor again in 2025 and use his city council seat as a springboard to the Mayor’s Office like he tried to do 4 years ago.

Confidential sources have confirmed that Lewis repeatedly talked with Isaac Benton to cut a deal where Lewis would be elected city council president and that Lewis would then appoint Benton Chairman of the Committee of the Whole and Finance Chairman. Lewis needed Benton’s vote in that he has a less than friendly relationship with his fellow Republican Brook Basaan.

LEWIS BEGINS HIS 4 YEAR OBSTRUCTIONIST AGENDA

After losing the vote to become City Council President, Dan Lew introduced 4 separate resolutions outlining what he intends to pursue in the coming few months. Those resolutions are:

1. Repeal the 3/8 of 1% gross receipts tax enacted 4 years ago. The city council enacted a 3/8 of 1% gross receipts tax four years ago on an 8-1 bipartisan city council vote. Lewis is proclaiming it’s a financial crutch the city does not need and reversal would put money “back into the pockets of hard-working Albuquerque citizens.” The enacted 2021 – 2022 city budget projects that the tax will generate $53.6 million this fiscal year. When originally enacted, the city was facing a $40 million dollar deficit and large cuts in essential services. Keller signed the tax increase despite his promise not to raise taxes without a public vote, even for public safety. The legislation initially required 60% of the proceeds to fund public safety and that requirement expired two years ago. Keller’s office, however, said money still goes to those efforts.

2. Bar the city from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for the municipal government workforce. Lewis says the bill answers concerns he has heard from police officers and firefighters about a potential vaccine requirement. Lewis claims he has been vaccinated himself but said he has a “big issue” with mandating them for city workers. According to Lewis “Many of them I know said they would quit[with mandated vaccines].” Lewis did not disclose if the oil distribution company he works for mandates vaccinations, if he threatened to quite if forced to get vaccinated or if he decided to get vaccinated to avoid termination.

It is well settled law that employers can mandate vaccinations as a condition of employment. The city is no different and could order all city hall employees to get vaccinated as a condition of continued employment. The city is preparing for a January 21, 2022 deadline that will mandate all city employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly testing for the virus under federal OSHA requirements. The city has over 6,000 employees that would be affected by the federal mandate. The OSHA mandate is being challenge in the United States Supreme Court with arguments heard by the US Supreme Court. Preliminary news reports are saying the conservative Supreme Court majority will strike the mandate down. As the US Supreme Court has yet to decide on an outcome, the city is continuing to move forward with the vaccination or testing mandates.

https://www.krqe.com/health/coronavirus-new-mexico/albuquerque-mayor-to-provide-update-on-citys-response-to-covid-19/

3. Repeal or limit mayoral authority during a public health emergency. The resolution would revoke most of the mayoral public health emergency authority the City Council added at the onset of the pandemic. In March 2020, the city council created a new “public health” category in the emergency powers ordinance, allowing the mayor to take actions like closing places of mass assembly and ordering retailers to limit the sale of certain items on a per-person-per-day basis. Under Lewis’ rewrite, the mayor can still proclaim a public health emergency but is limited to issuing public health “advisories or recommendations” thereby essentially gutting the Mayor’s authority during a health crises such and the pandemic.

4. Direct the city administration to consider and “to the extent advisable,” push to renegotiate the terms of the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA). The settlement mandates 271 reforms of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). The settlement was entered into on November 14, 2014 after a Department of Justice investigation found that APD engaged in a pattern of excessive use of force and deadly force and had a “culture of aggression.”

The Lewis DOJ city council resolution cites U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s 2021 guidelines for federal court appointed monitors that local and state governments pay to oversee federally-mandated police reforms. Garland recommends that agreements limit monitor fees and that a termination process occur after 5 years. While new rules do not apply to existing agreements like Albuquerque’s, the Lewis resolution directs the city to review the new guidelines anyway. Ostensibly, Lewis does not know that the City and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have already announced they were reviewing the guidelines. The Lewis resolution also calls for petitioning to reopen the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) to address Garland’s recommendations “regarding capping independent monitor fees and assessing termination of monitors after no more than five years.” Federal Court Appointed Monitor James Ginger has overseen the Albuquerque Police Department since 2015. APD continues to struggle with implementing the reforms.

According to Lewis, the 4 bills address important community concerns and he had this to say:

“I want them to go through the process. … I fully expect the councilors and the administration to take a good, hard look at these bills to understand them and to consider the outcomes and certainly to listen to the public.”

The link to news source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2460283/lewis-proposing-tax-repeal-limiting-mayors-powers.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

Like it or not, the tone of the new city council is more conservative with DINO City Councilor Louis Sanchez and conservative Republicans Dan Lewis and Rene Grout showing their willingness to take on and get in the face of Mayor Tim Keller to obstruct where they can under the guise of holding him accountable as Dan Lewis begins a 4 year quest to become mayor.

DISTRICT 1 “DINO” LOUIS SANCHEZ

Newly elected Democrat City Councilor Louis Sanchez became a “Democrat In Name Only” when he cast his vote Dan Lewis for city council president. The one vote for city council president clearly revealed exactly what kind of a Democrat Louis Sanchez really is, including thinking he is the swing vote on the city council. Least anyone forget Councilor Louis Sanchez made a big stink that he should not have to wait until January 1, 2021 to join the city council. He went so far as to threaten to file a civil lawsuit, did news interviews and was interviewed on the Bob Clark morning radio program. Clark is decisively right wing Republican. Sanchez was no doubt emboldened when the Albuquerque Journal editorialized that he should file a lawsuit and get a definitive court ruling on the issue.

The link to the editorial is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2452128/take-council-seat-to-court.html

Louis Sanchez was not satisfied with just winning his election over Lan Sena. What Louis Sanchez wanted to do is humiliate Lan Sean and force her off the council over his imaginary right of entitlement that he should be sworn into office before his term begins. Confidential City Hall sources confirmed that City Councilor elect Louis Sanchez met with Mayor Tim Keller in the Mayor’s Office and a verbal confrontation occurred wherein Sanchez demanded that City Attorney Esteban Aguilar and City Clerk Ethan Watson both be fired over their refusal to swear him in as the new City Council for District 1. According to confidential sources, Keller declined to terminate them. Sanchez told Mayor Keller that he intended not to vote to confirm either of them if they were not fired.

DINO Sanchez appears to have had a rude awakening finding out the Republican Brook Bassan is emerging as the swing vote. She has shown herself more than capable of working with the Keller Administration, as was the case when she agreed with Keller on the passage of a gross receipts tax bond that failed to secure the required 6 votes. Should Sanchez decide to throw his support to Republican causes, and should he have higher ambitions, including running for Mayor or County Commission, he might as well change his party affiliation to Republican now and not pretend he is a Democrat. Sheriff Manny Gonzales landslide loss to Mayor Tim Keller is proof that pretending to be a Democrat in a Democrat City gets you no where fast.

DISTRICT 9 REPUBLICAN RENEE GROUT

District 9 Conservative Republican City Council Renee Grout, who replaced Conservative Republican Don Harris, had this to say about the new city council before she was sworn in:

“There’s going to be more checks and balances [with the new council members. Mayor Keller’s] unchecked power is going to be different.”

Grout said she would use her early days in office to research, ask questions and listen. This coming from a liar and the lies she told her constituents along with a promise made to get elected.

On December 1, Republican Renee Grout mailed out a false “hit piece” campaign mailer against her opponent Democrat Rob Grilley. The political hit piece proclaimed:

“Grilley supports Sanctuary City that protects violent criminals . … Rob Grilley supports Sanctuary City policy that forces police to hide illegal immigrants from federal authorities, even if they commit crimes like rape or murder! In bold, bright red letters appear the words: “Protecting Violent Criminals.”

Below these words appears the following text:

Jaqueline Vigil, a mother of two New Mexico Police Officers, was murdered by Luis Talamantes-Romero, an illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal history. Vigil’s killer should have been deported before, but the city’s sanctuary city policy forced police to hide him from immigration officials.

The political hit piece attacking Democrat Rob Grilley was simply a pack of lies told by Republican Renee Grout who resorted to fear tactics and misinformation to distract voters. Simply put, Albuquerque has never been a “sanctuary city” and it’s not likely it is ever going to be one. The truth is that in 2001, the Albuquerque City Council enacted a resolution that declared Albuquerque an “immigrant-friendly” city. The resolution was sponsored by then-Republican City Councilor Hess Yntema, whose wife is a naturalized United States citizen from Columbia.

An “immigrant-friendly” city implements “welcoming city” policies and does not provide for city enforcement of federal immigration laws, and addresses only city services, including licensing and housing. The focus is to create inclusive, immigrant-friendly, and welcoming policies. Albuquerque’s “immigrant-friendly” designation welcomes immigrants to the city and is mainly symbolic.

The accusation in the flyer “Vigil’s killer should have been deported before, but the city’s sanctuary city policy forced police to hide him from immigration officials” is the most glaring lie. When the murder occurred, it was first believed to have been a retaliation killing against Vigils’ two state police officer sons. APD did NOT “hide her killer from immigration officials” because APD had no idea who her killer was, and a search had begun while APD was investigating the murder.

What the investigation found is that the killer was “casing” homes at 5:30 am in the area, he came upon Jaqueline Vigil pulling out of her driveway to go to the gym and he shot her. The truth is Jaqueline Vigil’s killer had already been deported by the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) a few months before the killing.

The reason why the political hit piece is so important now that Renee Grout has been sworn in as the new District 9 City Councilor is the political promise to her supporters she made at events. Grout promised that she would introduce a resolution calling for the repeal of the “sanctuary city”. Demands are already being made by her constituents to see the legislation she intends to introduce but she has yet to produce even a rough draft of the legislation. Renee Grout is keeping her constituents waiting while she proclaims there will be more “checks and balances” on Mayor Keller. Then there is the matter of Renee Grout faced with the very embarrassing fact that she wants to repeal a nonexistent “sanctuary city” resolution.

OBSTRUCTIONIST AGENDA WAS PREDICTED

On December 31,2021, the blog article entitled “Red Flags” Of Confrontation Emerge Against Mayor Tim Keller With 4 New Council Members To Be Sworn In On Jan. 1st; Election Of Democrat Or Republican City Council President, Vice President Will Set Tone Of Cooperation Or Confrontation”. The article predicted major issues that Dan Lewis and Renee Grout are no doubt champing at the bit to oppose Mayor Keller in an attempt to be disruptive. All 4 of the new Lewis resolutions were predicted by the blog article. Those issues listed in the blog article, with the issues rearranged by the editor for this article, are as follows:

1. Oppose any and all increases in the gross receipts taxes or property taxes to fund city essential services even when deficits occur. One Lewis Resolution introduced calls for the repeal the 3/8 of 1% gross receipts tax the city council implemented four years ago on an 8-1 bipartisan city council vote.

2. Oppose enforcement by Mayor Keller of emergency health care orders for the Corona Virus Pandemic, including opposing any and all-mask mandates and opposing mandatory covid vaccinations of city employees. One Lewis Resolutions introduced calls for the repeal or limit mayoral authority during a public health emergency. A second Lewis resolution introduced bars the city from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for the municipal government workforce.

3. Opposition to the Department of Justice mandated police reforms. One Lewis Resolution introduced directs the city administration to consider and “to the extent advisable” push to renegotiate the terms of the federal Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).

4. Opposition to any mandatory sick leave ordinances for the private sector.

5. Repeal of the city’s immigration friendly policy that Lewis and Grout falsely label as sanctuary city.

6. Advocacy of late term abortion prohibitions as was placed on the 2013 municipal ballot and which failed. Should Roe v. Wade in fact be overturned by the United States Supreme Court, which is expected in June, it is more likely than not right wing Republicans Dan Lewis and Renee Grout will seek to have abortions outlawed within the city by declaring no licenses to do business within the city shall be issued to any health care provider corporation such as Planned Parenthood that offers late term abortions. Without a license to do business, the city planning department could order the closure of the business.

7. Opposition to or perhaps repeal of the city’s minimum wage ordinance.

8. Reduction in social service programs to help the homeless and the poor, including a scaling back of the Gateway Homeless shelter operations.

9. Advocate the reduction in the size of city government and eliminate new departments and programs created by Mayor Keller by denying funding for such Departments as the “Office of Equity and Inclusion” that deals with immigrant relations.

10. Advocacy of increased criminal penalties as part of the city’s legislative package and bail bond reform measures.

FINAL COMMENTARY

With the introduction of his fist 4 resolutions at the very first meeting of the newly elected city council, Dan Lewis has made it clear he intends to be as disruptive as possible on the city council. Only time will tell if the city council conservative 3 stooges of Lewis, Grout and Sanchez will call for the other predicted obstructionist’s resolutions. Dan Lewis is nothing more than a pathetic Republican Party political schill and operative with an axe to grins in an election year hell bent on being divisive on the city council as possible so he can run for Mayor again in 4 years.

Lewis with his words and conduct make it very clear he has no desire to work with Tim Keller, so why should Keller even bother to try. Keller should make it known that he will veto the four resolutions introduced to send a clear and unambiguous message to Lewis.

Governor And Legislative Finance Committee Release Competing Budgets For 2022 Legislative Session; Both Budgets Place Emphasis On Public Education, Teacher Pay, State Workers Pay, Public Safety, Cannabis Industry, Film Industry; Cutting Gross Receipts By 0.25% Election Ploy

On January 18, the 2022 New Mexico legislature convenes for its 30 day legislative sessions known as the “short session.” Thirty-day sessions are dedicated to enactment of the annual budget and financial issues with the fiscal yeas beginning on July 1 and ending June 30. The agenda is set by the Governor, it is referred to as the “Governor’s Call”, meaning the Governor dictates was legislation can be considered other than fiscal matters.

PROJECTED WINDFALL

Prior to the beginning of any legislative session, the Governor prepares and releases a proposed budget for the new fiscal year. The New Mexico “Legislative Finance Committee” (LFC) has its own staff and economists, conducts hearing during the year and also prepares a proposed budget before any session begins. Taken together, the Governor’s Budget and the LFC budget provide a road map for compromise and consensus during the legislative’s sessions.

On Friday, August 28, during a Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) meeting it was revealed that the State is experiencing an all-time high windfall of more than nearly $1 billion higher than what was projected in February of 2021. The August estimates released to the legislative committee by executive and legislative economists projected that New Mexico would have nearly $1.4 billion in additional money in the coming year. The $1.4 Billion is the difference between expected revenue and the state’s current $7.4 billion budget. The cause of the windfall is surging oil and natural gas production and a rise in consumer spending.

The new state government income forecast has been revised upward by more than $200 million since August. On December 6, 2021, New Mexico government economists projected a new surge in state income predicting a $1.6 billion surplus in state general fund income in excess of current spending obligations for the fiscal year starting on July 1, 2022.

State Secretary of Taxation and Revenue Clarke said economist have reported New Mexico’s economy has recovered about two-thirds of the jobs that were lost at the outset of the pandemic in 2020 but cautioned:

“We still have a big percentage of our population that is in a difficult financial situation. … We see the stock market doing so well. … I just want us not to forget that there is a whole sector of the economy that has not experienced those gains.”

COMPETTING BUDGETS RELEASED

On Thursday, January 6, 2022, Governor Michell Lujan Grisham and the Legislative Finance Committee released their separate competing state budgets for the 2022-2223 fiscal year. With the projected $1.6 Billion projected windfall, both of the proposed budgets increase total budgetary spending to $8.4 billion and provides 7% salary increases for teachers and state employees. In the Governor’s proposed budget of $8.4 billion, education accounts for more than half of it at $4.8 billion.

In addition to funding the states essential services, both the Governor’s and the LFC proposed budgets call for upwards of $2.6 billion, which is 30% of state spending, to remain in cash reserves in case projected revenue levels don’t materialize. The reason for setting aside so much in cash reserves is due to a 2017 law that has bolstered New Mexico’s “rainy day” fund by taking a certain percentage of oil and gas tax revenue in cash-flush years and setting it aside for future use, which has now paid off significantly.

Both budget proposals call for significant overall spending hikes. The governor’s proposed budget increase spending levels by $998 million or by 13.4% over current spending. The Legislative Finance Committee’s plan increases spending by more than $1 billion, or by 14%.

The $8.5 Billion budget is the largest budget ever proposed in state history. Both budgets increase government spending levels by upwards of $1 billion over the fiscal year that ends June 30. Both plans represent nearly a 50% state spending growth over the last 10 years.

Both budget plans provide more money to hire additional law enforcement officers, reduce a waiting list for a state program for individuals with developmental disabilities and expand early literacy initiatives. Other increases in funding will target replacing one-time funding for Medicaid spending that will expire in April 1, 2022.

COMPARING THE BUDGETS

Budget plans by the Legislative Finance Committee and the Governor’s Office are similar in many ways but do contain some major differences. Those similarities and differences are as follows:

HIGHER PAY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

Under Governor MLG’s proposed budget, upwards of $277 million will go toward raising starting teacher pay in New Mexico to $50,000 annually. Education personnel would see a 7% increase in salaries. The minimum pay levels for more experienced educators would be raised and the Governor’s budget also provides salary increases for teachers and school administrators Teachers in the three-tier system would see a 20% bump, earning $50,000, $60,000, and $70,000 in base salaries

The LFC proposed budget sets starting teacher pay at $1,000 more at $51,000 per year but the $1,000 in additional teacher pay would be for a longer school year.
The Governor’s spokesperson Nora Meyers Sackett said the new salaried will be the highest teacher salaries of any neighboring states and said:

“… [I’ts] really important to both focus on attracting new excited New Mexico students to the profession, attracting teachers to New Mexico and retaining the wonderful hardworking qualified teachers we have in our schools right now.”

Meyers Sackett said teachers have told the Lujan Grisham Administration the new funding will help teachers make new decisions in their life and she said:

“… they love teaching! They want to do it! They love the impact they make but they just want to be able to get by a little better.”

Ellen Bernstein, Albuquerque Teachers’ Federation president, had this to say about the efforts to keep more teachers by increasing pay:

“I think it’s a great start and I think we need to pay attention to that because we have massive shortages … We are down over 1,000 teachers statewide and it’s getting worse every day. … We need to have respect and respect is shown in many ways and a decent salary is one. … We need to recruit people into the profession which means it needs to be a respected profession and we need to retain the people we have.”

Bernstein also said she would like to see a higher raise for school staff, like bus drivers, counselors, and cafeteria workers.

In addition to the $200 million for raises, Governor MLG proposed budget includes $195 million to expand Pre-K capacity, $86 million to make tuition free college available to more New Mexicans, $11 million for early literacy programs for k-12 students, and upwards of $10 million to help teachers pay for college.

TEACHER SHORTAGE CRISIS NOTED

On October 9, 2021, according to a report by New Mexico State University’s Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center, the number of teacher vacancies throughout the state has nearly doubled in the last year. The report found that the number of teacher vacancies rose from 571 in 2020, to 1,048 in 2021. According to data latest year, there was an 84% increase in total teachers needed in 2021. The report also noted that the areas with the highest number of teacher vacancies are special education and elementary education, which were also the top areas in the prior two reports.

https://www.koat.com/article/new-mexico-teacher-vacancies-nearly-double-for-2021-according-to-new-report-by-nmsu/37913953#

It was been reported in September that the Albuquerque Public Schools is having difficulty filling hundreds of jobs. APS has over 300 open positions including:

• 83 elementary school teacher positions
• 48 middle school teacher positions
• 27 high school teacher positions
• 158 special education teacher positions.

In September, 2021, APS reported it had 650 substitute teachers they said they could use another 500 more substitute teachers.

In September it was also reported Rio Rancho Public Schools had less than 100 positions from teachers to educational assistants. They typically have around 300 active substitutes right and in September they reported having 210.

https://www.koat.com/article/budget-newmexico-state-education-spending/38689658
The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/budget-newmexico-state-education-spending/38689658

HIGHER PAY FOR STATE WORKERS

Under the LFC’s proposed budget, state workers would be given a 3% salary increases in April followed by an additional 4% pay raise starting in June. The governor’s budget plan earmarks enough funding to boost state worker pay enough to establish a $15 minimum wage for state employees. On January 6, 2022, Governor MLG’s Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget summary states that $52.4 million was being set aside for the raises.

https://www.governor.state.nm.us/2022/01/06/gov-lujan-grisham-releases-fy23-executive-budget-recommendation/

PUBLIC SCHOOLS PROPOSED BUDGETS

The LFC is proposing a $3.82 billion total budget reflecting a 12% increase.
Governor MLG is proposing a $3.8 billion total budget reflecting an 11.5% increase.

The LFC proposed budget would require all New Mexico schools to provide an additional 10 instructional days during the coming year, though districts would have some flexibility in how to implement the mandate. The governor’s proposed budget provides additional funding for extended learning in an attempt to address academic losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but allows districts to decide whether to seek out the funding and participate.

Under the LFC proposed budget, spending increases in education are targeted at restoring public services impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including training new teachers and trying to keep more educators from leaving amid a recent 40% jump in teacher retirements.

REVISITING LANDMARK EDUCATION CASE YAZZIE V. STATE OF NEW MEXICO AND MARTINEZ

Given the magnitude of the increase public education, a reminder of the reason for it is necessary.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton ruled in the case of Yazzie v. State of New Mexico and Republican Governor Suzanna Martinez that the state of New Mexico was violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education. In a 75-page decision, the court rejected arguments by Governor Susana Martinez’s administration that the education system is improving and for that reason it does not need more funding.

The Court found that the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) did not do the best it could with the funding it has given by the legislature to the education system. The Court ruling centered on the guaranteed right under the New Mexico Constitution to a sufficient education for all children. The lawsuit alleged a severe lack of state funding, resources and services to help students, particularly children from low-income families, students of color, including Native Americans, English-language learners and students with disabilities.

In her blistering written opinion, Judge Singleton wrote:

“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”

According to the judge’s ruling, in New Mexico, at the time, 71.6% of the state’s public school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners. Further, 14.8 percent of students have disabilities, and 10.6 percent are Native American. Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the previous 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, provided the following statement after the court ruling:

“This ruling confirms what parents and educators know—that New Mexico children are deprived of the essential resources, including qualified teachers and support staff, they need. This deprivation is especially severe for those at risk and in need of additional supports—English language learners, Native American students and those in poverty. The ruling also calls out the governor’s obsession with testing over teaching.”

“In New Mexico, it would take $228 million to get public school funding to what it was before the Great Recession, and average teacher pay in the state is nearly 10 percent lower than what it was in 2009. We call on the state to use this ruling as a long-overdue opportunity to overhaul its broken school funding system to ensure all New Mexico children are afforded the public education they deserve and are entitled to. … “

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/judge-rules-lack-of-sufficient-education-for-all-nm-students-violates-constitutional-rights/4997869/?cat=500

The ultimate result of the court ruling is that the State has been ordered to increase funding to public school educations by millions. The Department of Education is till struggling to implement a plan to improve the education system with the case still pending.

https://www.abqjournal.com/1200069/questions-surround-ruling-on-nm-education-funding.html

HIGHER EDUCATION PROPOSED BUDGETS

The LFC is proposing a $935.5 million budget reflecting a 4.6% increase.
Governor MLG is proposing a $1 billion budget reflecting a 13% increase.

The governor’s proposed budget appropriates $85 million for an “opportunity scholarship program” to cover tuition costs for an additional 22,000 New Mexicans attending higher education institutions. Lawmakers have criticized the program because it is not based on financial need. The LFC’s proposed budget provides only half that much money for the scholarship program.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY PROPOSED BUDGETS

The LFC is proposing a $143.7 million budget reflecting a 10.8% increase.

Governor MLG is proposing a $139.8 million budget reflecting a 7.8% increase.

The LFC proposed state funding cuts for the Corrections Department by about $1.6 million as a result of the recent drop in New Mexico’s prison inmate population. The governor proposed spending plan slightly increases funding for the agency.

The Governor’s proposed budget provides funding for the Department of Public Safety to add 100 state police officers to its ranks. According to the Governor’s office, the increase of a little over $10 million would be enough to fill every current officer vacancy. According to the LFC, even without the additional funding, the department is projected to add 57 officers.

According to the LFC, the Department of Public Safety requested an additional $29.4 million beyond last year’s funding,. The department intends much of the funds to go to increasing pay and expanding training. The LFC proposed budget has funding for only a $12.8 million increase, $2 million of which would go to expanded training. The LFC predicts that such funding would allow the department to add 79 officers.

Charles Sallee, the Deputy Director for Budget at the LFC, had this to say:

“Rather than fund positions that are unlikely to be filled because the economy is at near full employment. . . the LFC recommendation prioritizes both across-the-board pay increases, as well as targeted increases for hard-to-staff positions, like state police officers.”

The LFC is recommending adding fewer new staff than the Governor recommends.

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.krqe.com/plus/data-reporting/new-mexico-governor-seeks-13-budget-increase/

Under the Governor’s released Fiscal Year 2023 executive budget recommendations, $100 million was earmarked for a new fund to recruit, hire and retain 100 law enforcement officers and staff around the state and $14.6M to provide raises and longevity pay to New Mexico State Police officers. Further, $18.2 million is earmarked for local fire departments to purchase equipment, boost recruitment and upgrade facilities

https://www.governor.state.nm.us/2022/01/06/gov-lujan-grisham-releases-fy23-executive-budget-recommendation/

FUNDING TO REGULATE NEW CANNABIS INDUSTRY

Legalization of recreational cannabis in the state occurred last year. Both the Governor’s and the LFC’s proposed budgets proposals allocate funding for the newly created Cannabis Control Division (CCD) that will oversee and regulate the state’s recreational and medical cannibus industry. Both budgets aim to provide staffing to the CCD.

The CCD has asked for 69 additional employees. The LFC recommends only funding 19. The governor’s proposal provides funding for 35 new staff within the department.

The staffing increases would double the current number of full-time staff at the CCD. Victor Reyes, the deputy superintendent at the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department, which oversees the CCD, says that additional funding will help the state regulatory department better serve customers and business owners within the cannabis industry. Reyes had this to say:

“Now that we’ve established our rulemaking process and we’ve begun the infrastructure for licensing, we need to have additional staff members to better serve the public [and] make sure that we are making customer service a priority. … “We know that both the executive and the legislative branches of government are committed to the success of this program. That’s why they passed this law. That’s why they gave us that initial support that we needed to be successful.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.krqe.com/plus/data-reporting/new-mexico-governor-seeks-13-budget-increase/

FILM INDUSTRY FUNDING

“With the expansion of Netflix in New Mexico and more than $2 billion spent in the state, New Mexico’s film industry seems to be one that’s continuing to grow. But the COVID-19 pandemic also hit the industry hard.

The governor’s budget proposal aims to create a “Media Academy” that would help local students enter the film industry. The idea is not to make a new school, but to use $50 million in funding to support film-focused higher education in the state. The end goal, according to the budget recommendation, is to enroll 1,000 students each year in film-focused training.

In addition, the governor’s budget recommendation would add over half a million dollars to the New Mexico Film Office’s budget. That organization is in charge of making New Mexico attractive to would-be production companies. The LFC budget recommends not providing additional funding to the film program in the fiscal year 2023.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:

https://www.krqe.com/plus/data-reporting/new-mexico-governor-seeks-13-budget-increase/

REACTION TO RELEASED BUDGETS

Governor MLG had this to say in a statement:

“These are investments that take us beyond the status quo, beyond decades of unnecessary austerity – these are investments that carry our state and its people into a future that lifts up every New Mexican.”

Democratic leadership lawmakers said the spending increase, although high, are still financially prudent. Both the Governor’s and the LFC proposed budgets call for upwards of $2.6 billion, which is 30% of state spending, to remain in cash reserves in case projected revenue levels don’t materialize.

State Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, the LFC’s chairwoman said:

“At this point, we feel it’s just right [to increase spending].

Senate Finance Committee Chairman George Muñoz, D-Gallup stated:

“New Mexico has the opportunity for generational change with the amount of money we have.”

Conservative Republican House Minority Leader James Townsend, R-Artesia, not at all surprisingly rebuked the governor’s proposed budget. In a prepared statement, Townsend said, in part:

“What usually gets lost in the Governor joyously announcing she is handing out cash to anyone and everyone during an election year, is that this money comes from the oil and gas industry that she, her out-of-state donors, and many progressive legislators want to shut down. … I think every one of us should be concerned about the sustainability of these spending levels.”

https://www.krqe.com/plus/data-reporting/new-mexico-governor-seeks-13-budget-increase/

Townsend added that some of the state’s revenue bonanza should be used to lower tax rates on senior citizens and veterans.

The windfall in revenues could allow for a cut in tax rates or rebates for taxpayers, though such proposals would have to be approved in separate bills.

In addition to state funds, lawmakers also have roughly $728 million in federal pandemic relief funds that New Mexico received last year but has not yet allocated.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2459383/governor-key-legislative-panel-roll-out-8-4-billion-spending-plans.html

GOVERNOR’S PLAN TO CUT GROSS RECEIPTS TAXES

On Nov 17, 2021, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she would pursue a statewide cut in gross receipts taxes. It would be the first in decades and was part of her signature legislative agenda items for the upcoming 2022 session. According to the Governor’s office at the time it was announce, it will save New Mexico families and businesses an estimated $145 million annually, or about $1.5 billion over 10 years.

The governor’s initiative will comprise a statewide 0.25% reduction in the gross receipts tax rate, lowering the statewide rate to 4.875% . This would be the first change in the statewide gross receipts tax rate since July of 2010, when the rate increased from 5% to its current 5.125 percent. According to the Taxation and Revenue Department, New Mexico has not decreased its statewide gross receipts tax rate since 1981, making the governor’s proposed cut, when enacted, a first in 40 years.

The tax cut, if successful, would reduce by one-quarter of a percentage point off the statewide rate, or enough to save a family 25 cents on a $100 purchase.

New Mexico’s gross receipts tax is similar to a sales tax but also applied to the sale of services, not just goods. The gross receipts tax has been a focus of debate for decades. The tax is problematic for small businesses, experts say, because they must pay it when hiring outside help for accounting, legal or other services a cost that builds on itself with each transaction, eventually passed on to the consumer.

Republican State Senator William Sharer, R-Farmington and Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, have repeatedly proposed overhauling the gross receipts tax code and reducing the rate. Sharer said the governor’s proposal was too small to make a real difference and said:

“While it may be a step in the right direction … it’s not tax reform. … [It] doesn’t amount to anything but a talking point.”

https://www.governor.state.nm.us/2021/11/17/governor-announces-plan-to-cut-gross-receipts-taxes/

https://www.krqe.com/news/politics-government/gov-lujan-grisham-announces-proposal-to-cut-gross-receipts-taxes/

https://www.abqjournal.com/2446857/lujan-grisham-to-propose-gross-receipts-tax-cut.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

The Governors’ proposal of statewide 0.25% reduction in the gross receipts tax rate appears to be more of an election year ploy to garner favor with the anti-tax crowed. The tax cut if successful, would reduce by one-quarter of a percentage point off the statewide rate, or enough to save a family 25 cents on a $100 purchase. What the state really needs is real tax reform and not a talking point. To that end, the tax cut should be abandoned for the 2022 thirty day session.

The emphasis of increasing funding for education should come as absolutely no supervise to anyone. Both the Governor and the Legislature have no choice because of the landmark case of YAZZIE V. STATE OF NEW MEXICO AND MARTINEZ. The state’s education department is still operating under a district court mandate to increase funding after the ruling from 3 years ago found that the state was failing badly to provide and education to students.

Now that both the governor and the LFC have released their individual proposed budgets before the 2022 session, the hard part begins ironing out the differences. Both Senate and House committees will analyze, discuss, debate and modify the bill before both the House and Senate vote on the adjusted version and enact what is the General Appropriations Act. Once it’s approved by a majority vote, it heads to the governor’s desk for a final signature. However, the Governor still has line-item veto power over the bill.

Notwithstanding the debate and compromising that remains, the 2022 legislative session will be far easier than the past few sessions that required dramatic budget cuts and a special session. With the availability of $1.6 Billion in new revenue, there should be very little problem.

Some critics and political pundits are saying that the budgets do not go far enough to fully utilize the the state’s windfall to make transformative changes and investment. Such arguments reflect a certain level of ignorance of the state budget process. Both of the proposed budgets are the operating budgets for government. The appropriate concentration should should be for now to maintain funding for basic government services. Once the operating budget is resolved, there is ample time to address transformative infrastructure projects and programs. More importantly there will be money to to just that.

Transformative programs and projects should include more funding for mental health care services, drug addiction and intervention programs, and funding for programs to help the homeless including funding to complete Albuquerque’s GATEWAY facility for the homeless. Additional funding and changes in the laws to help local law enforcement deal with the states spiking crime rates could be added. There should be enough also for major infrastructure and capital outlay projects such as funding for a new soccer stadium and building a multi purpose venue to replace the aging Tingly Coliseum.

With $3.7 billion In Federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act Funding, the allocation of $478 million in federal pandemic aid out of $1.1 Billion in pandemic relief and the $1.6 billion of projected windfall from oil an gas revenues, the state’ s decades long financial woes may finally be coming to an end. The next 4 years of government expenditure of billions may prove to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to diversify the state’s economy.

The link to a related blog article is here:

Governor Lujan Grisham Delivers On $478 Million In Pandemic Relief; $3.7 Billion In Federal Infrastructure Investments And State’s $1.6 Billion Surplus Once In A Lifetime Opportunity For Governor Running For Second Term; Concrete Results Versus Republican Smear Tactics

USA Today: Debunking False Narratives About January 6 Capitol Riot; Ample Evidence Fraud Did Not Affect Election Outcome; Republicans Buy The Big Lie

On January 4, 2021, the national news agency USA Today posted a story written by its reporter McKenzie Sadeghi with contributing reporters Camille Caldera, Devon Link, Ella Lee, Daniel Funke, Chelsey Cox, Rick Rouan, Nayeli Lomeli, Madeleine Ngo entitled “Fact check roundup: Debunking false narratives about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot”.

On January 6, USA TODAY published a second article entitled “Fact check: How we know the 2020 election results were legitimate, not ‘rigged’ as Donald Trump claims” written by reporter Daniel Funke.

Both articles are well researched and well written. When read together with minor edits, the articles provide insightful information on the January 6, 2021 capital riot as well as Trumps false claims relating to the November 4, 2020 presidential election.

USA TODAY JANUARY 4, 2021 ARTICLE

EDITOR’S NOTE: The article has been edited for clarification to the extent of bolding titles, adding “USA TODAY RATING” and deleting “Read More” reference links.

“It has been almost one year since a mob supporting now-former President Donald Trump – fueled by baseless voter fraud claims – stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The attack led to deaths, injuries and more than 700 arrests, and it temporarily halted Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. In the following months, a flurry of falsehoods and conspiracy theories about the riot were promoted online, where debunked claims continue to circulate.

With the first anniversary of the Capitol riot approaching, here’s a roundup of USA TODAY’s fact checks relating to the insurrection that touch on election misinformation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s role in the attack, misleading images and videos, claims about politicians, comparisons to past demonstrations and even false claims that reports predicted the attack.

2020 ELECTION MISINFORMATION

Capitol rioters charged in the Jan. 6 attack have cited the baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats. The myth was promoted by Trump, his closest allies and conservative media personalities, all of whom relied on false claims about election technology, vote counting, mail-in ballots and voter turnout.

Biden legally won the presidential race by more than 7 million votes, and his victory was certified by the Electoral College. Hand recounts and independent audits across the country did not change the election’s outcome and failed to turn up any evidence of widespread wrongdoing by poll workers or voters. But that still didn’t stop people from claiming otherwise.

THE CLAIM: JOE BIDEN DID NOT LEGALLY WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
USA TODAY RATING: False

Biden received 81 million votes and Trump received 74 million votes. A candidate must secure 270 electoral votes to be elected, and Biden won 306 votes to Trump’s 232. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Biden’s favor, and courts have dismissed dozens of lawsuits in battleground states challenging the election results.

THE CLAIM: DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS DELETED VOTES FOR TRUMP, SWITCHED VOTES TO BIDEN
USA TODAY RATING: False

There is no evidence Dominion, a private company supplying voting systems in 28 states, deleted or changed votes in the 2020 election, according to a national coalition and election law experts. A few counties experienced minor technology issues on Election Day, but the errors did not affect the vote counts.

THE CLAIM: SEVERAL KEY STATES HAD MORE BALLOTS CAST THAN REGISTERED VOTERS
USA TODAY RATING: False

Data and individual state reporting reviewed by USA TODAY shows no state in the U.S. had more than 100% voter turnout in the 2020 election. Posts claiming differently are using improper data sets or flawed data analysis techniques. Read more

THE CLAIM: NEVADA’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION INCLUDED DUPLICATE VOTING, DEAD VOTERS, FAKE ADDRESSES, NONCITIZENS VOTING AND OUT OF STATE VOTERS
USA TODAY RATING: False

Claims about widespread voter fraud in Nevada’s 2020 election stem from a failed lawsuit, and a district court concluded that no illegal votes were cast and counted. Biden won Nevada’s six electoral votes.

THE CLAIM: AN AUDIT ‘CONCLUSIVELY SHOWS’ VOTER FRAUD AFFECTED ARIZONA’S ELECTION OUTCOME
USA TODAY RATING: False

An audit of Arizona’s 2020 election results conducted by cybersecurity firm Cyber Ninjas did not surface any evidence of widespread voter fraud that changed the election’s outcome. The review, along with other hand recounts, confirmed Biden won Maricopa County.

THE CLAIM: AN INVESTIGATION FOUND MORE ‘ILLEGAL VOTES’ CAST IN WISCONSIN IN 2020 THAN JOE BIDEN’S MARGIN OF VICTORY
USA TODAY RATING: False

A report from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty investigating the integrity of the 2020 election found no evidence of widespread fraud, and the group’s findings were misstated online. A hand recount, audit and lawsuits confirmed Biden’s victory in Wisconsin.

Here are more fact-checks analyzing what’s true and false about the 2020 election and voting by mail.

THE NATURE OF THE RIOT

Just hours after rioters breached the Capitol, misinformation about what happened spread rapidly on social media, and a false narrative blaming anti-fascist activists for inciting the violence made its way to the House floor that same evening. Many such claims circulated throughout 2021.

THE CLAIM: A FACIAL RECOGNITION FIRM CLAIMED ANTIFA INFILTRATED PRO-TRUMP RIOTERS AT THE CAPITOL
USA TODAY RATING: False

Claims that members of Antifa disguised as Trump supporters orchestrated the insurrection are baseless and stem from a rumor that a facial recognition company identified left-wing activists among the rioters. The technology firm mentioned in the claims refuted the story, and there is no evidence Antifa was responsible for the attack.

THE CLAIM: THE SHIRTLESS MAN PICTURED IN THE CAPITOL BREACH IS WITH ANTIFA AND BLACK LIVES MATTER
USA TODAY RATING: False

Jake Angeli, a man who was pictured at the Capitol shirtless wearing a fur hat with horns, is a well-known Trump and QAnon supporter – he is not tied to Black Lives Matter or Antifa. The claim is part of the false larger conspiracy theory that Trump’s supporters were not actually behind the riot.

THE CLAIM: A “KNOWN ANTIFA MEMBER” WAS PAID $70,000 FOR HIS VIDEO OF THE RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: Partly false

News outlets paid Utah activist John Sullivan roughly $90,000 for video footage he captured during the Capitol riot, but he is not linked to any anti-fascist groups and has denied being associated with the movement.

THE CLAIM: FBI OPERATIVES ORGANIZED THE ATTACK ON THE U.S. CAPITOL
USA TODAY RATING: False

There’s no evidence “unindicted co-conspirators” listed in federal charging documents related to the Jan. 6 attack are undercover FBI agents or federal informants. Legal experts say the term can’t be used to describe undercover government operatives. Rioters have been identified by authorities as Trump supporters, conspiracy theorists and members of far-right groups.

THE CLAIM: CNN EMPLOYEES TOOK PART IN THE RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: False

Posts claiming CNN employees were among the Capitol rioters are unfounded. Jade Sacker, mentioned in the claims, is a freelance journalist and has never worked for the cable news outlet. Read more

THE CLAIM: A MAN DIED FROM A HEART ATTACK AFTER ACCIDENTALLY USING A STUN GUN ON HIMSELF AT THE CAPITOL RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: False

Kevin Greeson of Alabama died on the Capitol grounds after a heart attack, and his wife told USA TODAY he had a history of high blood pressure. He did not accidentally stun himself.

THE CLAIM: THE FBI TOLD A SENATE COMMITTEE THAT THE FBI DID NOT RECOVER ANY GUNS AT THE RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, said the FBI did not recover any firearms at the Capitol riot. But she also noted that she cannot speak for other law enforcement agencies. The Department of Justice charged rioters with bringing firearms to the Capitol grounds.

NANCY PELOSI’S ROLE

Social media users have tried to shift blame by spreading false claims about Pelosi in the wake of the Capitol attack.

THE CLAIM: PELOSI REJECTED TRUMP’S REQUEST FOR 10,000 NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS TO BE DEPLOYED BEFORE JAN. 6
USA TODAY RATING: False

Trump’s claim that Pelosi blocked his formal request for 10,000 National Guard troops ahead of the “Stop the Steal” rally is false. The Pentagon said there is no record of the request, and Pelosi’s office said she was not contacted about deploying the National Guard. Testimony and a Department of Defense memo about Jan. 6 also confirms that.

THE CLAIM: NANCY PELOSI WAS IN CHARGE OF CAPITOL POLICE ON JAN. 6
USA TODAY RATING: False

Pelosi was not in charge of the Capitol Police at the time of the riot. The agency is overseen by the Capitol Police Board, which is made up of the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the Capitol architect.

THE CLAIM: NANCY PELOSI REFUSES TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR CAUSING THE INSURRECTION
USA TODAY RATING: False

… Pelosi wasn’t responsible. Capitol Police told USA TODAY that committees from the House and Senate and a Capitol Police Board are responsible for overseeing operations, not Pelosi.

THE CLAIM: PELOSI WON’T LET CAPITOL POLICE TESTIFY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED ON JAN. 6
USA TODAY RATING: False

The claim that Pelosi is blocking testimony is a reversal of what actually happened. Republican lawmakers tried to stop a hearing from taking place, while Democrats pushed for one.

THE CLAIM: SPECIAL FORCES TOOK NANCY PELOSI’S LAPTOP DURING THE RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: False

A laptop belonging to the House speaker’s office was stolen by pro-Trump rioters, not special forces.

MISLEADING IMAGES AND VIDEOS

Photos and videos of the Capitol riot went viral online. But in many cases, the footage was doctored, outdated or unrelated to Jan. 6.

THE CLAIM: POLICE OFFICER IS THE MAN WHO CARRIED A CONFEDERATE FLAG DURING THE CAPITOL RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: False

An image purporting to show a police officer carrying a Confederate flag during the attack is false. The man in the photo was identified by the FBI as Kevin Seefried, who was charged in connection with the riot. He is not a police officer.

THE CLAIM: CAPITOL WORKERS THREW AWAY AN AMERICAN FLAG AS THEY PREPARED FOR THE TRANSITION OF POWER
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

Capitol employees did not throw out an American flag in preparation for Biden’s inauguration. The photo was captured in the aftermath of the riot.

THE CLAIM: VIDEO SHOWS TRUMP FAMILY CELEBRATING THE RIOT FROM A NEARBY TENT
USA TODAY RATING: False

Days after the riot, a video went viral purporting to show the Trump family celebrating amid the attack. But monitors seen in the clip as well as a timeline of the events on Jan. 6 prove the video was captured before Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

THE CLAIM: CHUCK NORRIS WAS AT THE CAPITOL RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: False

Martial artist and actor Chuck Norris did not take part in the riot. His manager told USA TODAY he was on his ranch in Texas on Jan. 6 and confirmed that a photo on social media of a man resembling Norris is not actually him.

THE CLAIM: IMAGES SHOW PRO-TRUMP RALLY IN WASHINGTON, D.C., IN JANUARY
USA TODAY RATING: False

Photos of crowds at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally and 2017 Women’s March were passed off on social media as pro-Trump demonstrations on Jan. 6.

THE CLAIM: IMAGE SHOWS A CARAVAN OF TRUMP SUPPORTERS TRAVELING TO WASHINGTON
USA TODAY RATING: False

A photo purporting to show dozens of vehicles heading to Washington to protest the presidential election results on Jan. 6 was actually taken in San Francisco at a pro-Trump truck rally in October 2020.

THE CLAIM: A VIRAL VIDEO SHOWS A MAN SCREAMING ABOUT BEING PLACED ON THE NO-FLY LIST BECAUSE OF THE RIOT AT THE CAPITOL
USA TODAY RATING: False

A video shows a man being asked to leave an American Airlines flight for a mask violation, not for being placed on the no-fly list because of the Capitol riot.

THE CLAIM: DEMONSTRATORS ERECTED A CROSS IN FRONT OF THE CAPITOL
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

A photo shows pro-Trump demonstrators erected a cross in front of the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, not in Washington.

THE CLAIM: THE INSURRECTION WAS AN EVENT HOSTED BY THE STANFORD FEDERALIST SOCIETY
USA TODAY RATING: Satire

An image of an event flyer claiming the Capitol riot took place during a student-run Stanford Federalist Society meeting with guest speakers Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is fake.

CLAIMS ABOUT POLITICIANS

A number of hoaxes concerning the whereabouts of politicians during the Capitol riot and their responses circulated online after the insurrection.

THE CLAIM: ACTING PARDON ATTORNEY ROSALIND SARGENT-BURNS SAID TRUMP WAS “STRONGLY CONSIDERING” PARDONING CAPITOL RIOTERS
USA TODAY RATING: False

Trump didn’t pardon Capitol rioters during his final days in office. At the time, the Justice Department issued a statement saying it was not involved in efforts to pardon people involved with “the heinous acts” that took place at the Capitol.

THE CLAIM: REP. LAUREN BOEBERT TOOK A PHOTO WITH RIOTERS BEFORE A TOUR OF CAPITOL ON JAN. 5
USA TODAY RATING: False

An image claiming to show Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., with rioters at the Capitol a day before the attack was actually captured in December 2019 at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. She was posing with members of several pro-Trump groups.

THE CLAIM: REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ TWEETED THAT CAPITOL RIOTERS STOLE HER SHOES
USA TODAY RATING: False

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., never said Capitol rioters stole her shoes. The congresswoman’s office told USA TODAY the tweet is fake, and no shoes were taken during the attack.

THE CLAIM: MITCH MCCONNELL SAID TRUMP WAS “PRACTICALLY AND MORALLY RESPONSIBLE” FOR THE CAPITOL RIOT AFTER VOTING TO ACQUIT HIM AFTER TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT
USA TODAY RATING: True

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voted to acquit Trump of inciting the Capitol riot during an impeachment trial but said during a speech on the Senate floor that the former president was “practically and morally responsible.” He said he believed it was unconstitutional to convict Trump during an impeachment proceeding after he had already left office.

THE CLAIM: VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE WAS ARRESTED ON JAN. 6
USA TODAY RATING: False

Then-Vice President Mike Pence was not arrested on Jan. 6. He and other officials were taken to a secure location, and his spokesperson said Pence never left the Capitol during the riot.

THE CLAIM: LAUREN BOEBERT DISCLOSED NANCY PELOSI’S LOCATION DURING INSURRECTION, LED TOUR BEFOREHAND, REFERENCED 1776
USA TODAY RATING: Partly false

During the Capitol riot, Boebert tweeted that Pelosi left the House chamber, but she did not say where Pelosi went. It’s true Boebert was seen giving a tour of the Capitol before the insurrection and compared it to 1776.

THE CLAIM: DEMOCRATIC LEADERS IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE CALLED FOR VIOLENCE DURING BLM PROTESTS
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

Posts accusing several Democratic leaders of hypocrisy for supporting violent Black Lives Matter demonstrations but condemning the Capitol riot are misleading. The quotes included in the meme were taken out of context and made before the summer 2020 protests against racial injustice.

THE CLAIM: THE INSURRECTION ACT HAS BEEN SIGNED AND ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE
USA TODAY RATING: False

Trump did not invoke the Insurrection Act on Jan. 6. The day after the riot, he publicly acknowledged the transition of power to Biden that would happen on Jan. 20.

COMPARISONS TO PREVIOUS DEMONSTRATIONS

Social media posts comparing previous demonstrations in Washington to the Capitol attack are misleading and leave out significant details.

THE CLAIM: IN 2018, LIBERALS AND DEMOCRATS PROTESTING AGAINST BRETT KAVANAUGH STORMED THE CAPITOL AND SUPREME COURT
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

Posts comparing the insurrection and 2018 protests against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court leave out key details. The Capitol was open to the public during the Kavanaugh demonstrations, unlike on Jan. 6, when rioters forced their way in. And protesters did not enter the Supreme Court as was claimed.

THE CLAIM: IMAGES SHOW POLICE PRESENCE DURING BLACK LIVES MATTER DEMONSTRATIONS COMPARED TO CAPITOL RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

Comparisons between law enforcement’s handling of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests and the Jan. 6 riot lack context. An image used in the claim shows National Guard members at the Lincoln Memorial after it was vandalized, not at the Capitol.

THE CLAIM: POLICE HELPED A PRO-TRUMP CAPITOL DEMONSTRATOR AND KICKED A BLM BYSTANDER IN THE HEAD
USA TODAY RATING: Partly false

A police officer was recorded helping a pro-Trump protester down the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 6, but a Black Lives Matter demonstrator did not have “his head kicked in by police.” The man was shoved by officers in New York, who were later charged with assault.

THE CLAIM: JOE BIDEN CONDEMNED VIOLENCE JAN. 6 BUT DIDN’T CONDEMN VIOLENT PROTESTS BY BLM OR ANTIFA IN THE SUMMER OF 2020
USA TODAY RATING: False

Biden repeatedly condemned violence linked to Black Lives Matter gatherings in 2020 and rioters on Jan. 6.

FAKE PREDICTIONS

Like many other major news events, people were quick to falsely claim that news outlets or TV shows predicted the events that took place on Jan. 6, implying the event was staged or planned.
Fact check: COVID-19, election misinformation dominated social media in 2021.

THE CLAIM: AN EPISODE OF “THE SIMPSONS” PREDICTED THE CAPITOL RIOT
USA TODAY RATING: False

A doctored photo showed Groundskeeper Willie, a character from “The Simpsons,” wearing the same outfit as the pro-Trump rioter in a furry horned hat. It was misused online to claim the TV show predicted the Jan. 6 attack.

THE CLAIM: NPR POSTED A STORY ABOUT RIOTERS IN THE U.S. CAPITOL AT 9:33 A.M., HOURS BEFORE THE ATTACK TOOK PLACE
USA TODAY RATING: Missing context

This was a misunderstanding of how breaking news is reported. National Public Radio did not post a story about rioters taking over the Capitol hours before it happened. The story was originally published on the morning of Jan. 6, and it was updated throughout the day with new developments.”

The link to the unedited USA Story with READ MORE links is here:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/01/04/fact-check-roundup-many-false-narratives-jan-6-insurrection/9052900002/

NO EVIDENCE THAT FRAUD AFFECTED ELECTION OUTCOME

On January 6, USA TODAY published an article entitled “Fact check: How we know the 2020 election results were legitimate, not ‘rigged’ as Donald Trump claims” written by reporter Daniel Funke. The article concluded saying that there is ample evidence fraud did not affect the 2020 presidential election outcome. Following are excerpts from the report:

“Based on our research, [USA TODAY] rate[s] FALSE the claim that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged.” Lawsuits, recounts, forensic audits and partisan reviews have all affirmed the election results. Officials from both parties have repeatedly debunked claims of widespread voter fraud. With 306 electoral votes, Biden beat Trump in the election.

In the immediate aftermath of Biden’s win, election officials insisted the results were legitimate.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and its partners said in a November 2020 statement:

The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. … There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”

Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, said in early December 2020 that the Justice Department had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.” Biden won the presidency with 306 electoral votes, which Congress certified in January 2021 after the Capitol riot.

At the time, some Republican lawmakers also pushed back on claims of widespread fraud.

“Nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election – nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican said in his address to the chamber before it was evacuated during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Since then, a mountain of evidence – including lawsuits, recounts, forensic audits and even partisan reviews – has affirmed those results.

Dozens of lawsuits by Trump and his allies aimed at overturning the election, some of which inspired misinformation about results in contested states like Nevada, failed. The Supreme Court refused to take up several cases challenging results in battleground states that played a key role in the outcome of the election.

In those battleground states, numerous audits and recounts have affirmed Biden’s win:

• In Arizona, a six-month audit of election results in Maricopa County, home of Phoenix, confirmed the state’s election results. The audit was conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a firm hired by the Republican-dominated state Senate and whose founder had previously promoted unfounded claims of voter fraud. Multiple hand recounts, as well as a forensic audit of voting machines, have also confirmed Maricopa County’s results.

• In Georgia, three separate audits found no evidence of wrongdoing affecting the state’s election outcome. Georgia’s Republican secretary of state has repeatedly quashed claims of widespread voter fraud.

• In Michigan, an audit of ballots, voting machines and election procedures affirmed Biden’s win. The bipartisan effort was the most comprehensive post-election audit in the state’s history.

• In Pennsylvania, a statewide risk-limiting audit found “strong evidence of the accuracy of the count of votes cast in the November 2020 presidential election. ” The audit examined ballots in 63 out of 67 counties.

• In Wisconsin, a recount in the state’s two largest counties found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. An audit of voting machines by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, commissioned by Republican lawmakers, and an investigation by a conservative law firm also upheld the election results.

Many claims of fraud stemmed from a misunderstanding of how vote counting and reporting processes work in different states.

In Wisconsin, for example, some claimed late-night vote dumps for Biden were proof of fraud. That’s wrong – the state can’t count absentee ballots until Election Day, so tallies for the largest counties can take all day to complete, or even into the night. On election night, that resulted in a late addition of absentee votes, which trended heavily Democratic in 2020.

Similar narratives targeted other contested states.

In Michigan, an election-night typo resulted in the addition of more than 100,000 votes to Biden’s tally. Although the clerical error was quickly corrected, some falsely claimed it was evidence of voter fraud. In Georgia, footage of poll workers placing ballots in their proper storage containers was also misconstrued as evidence of fraud.

Other pervasive election conspiracy theories haven’t panned out, either.

Claims from conservative pundits that voting machines deleted Trump votes and changed them to Biden are false.
Companies like Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic have filed defamation lawsuits against Trump allies and conservative news outlets for promoting baseless claims about their voting technology.

The link to the unedited USA Report is here:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/01/06/fact-check-donald-trump-2020-election-results/9115875002/

REPUBLICANS BELIEVE ELECTION RIGGED

According to a November poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, 68% of Republicans believe the election was “stolen” from Donald Trump. Only 6% of Democrats and 26 percent of independents say the same. Tens of millions of Americans believe Trump’s “big lie” that the election was stolen even though there’s no evidence of significant voter fraud. According to a Washington Post article, the data points to three related explanations:

1. Tribal partisanship
2. A persistent tendency toward conspiratorial thinking among many Americans, and
3. A sustained misinformation campaign by Trump and his allies.

According to the Washington Post article, there’s a simple political pattern in election denial polls. When Republicans win the White House, Democrats are more likely to say the race was rigged. And when Democrats win the White House, Republicans are more likely to cry fraud.
University of Miami political science professor Joseph Uscinski, a who specializes in conspiracy theories, explained the pattern this way:

“Some people don’t like to lose, and they don’t have a good way of coming to grips with it. … You could think of it in politics as in sports: the winning team rarely complains about the umpires and referees. There’s nothing to complain about when you win — you only have something to complain about if you lose.”

When Trump lost, many Republicans followed this pattern: They alleged fraud rather than admitting that Biden won fairly. And strong Republicans, the people with the greatest attachment to the party, were the most likely to believe Trump’s voter fraud claims.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/10/why-do-some-still-deny-bidens-2020-victory-heres-what-data-says/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

What is disgusting and the act of a traitor is that what unfolded on January 6, 2021 was an attack on our country, our very democracy, by a President of the United States who lost his election for a second term and who still refuses to accept his defeat to this day. Der Führer Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes only to win the electoral college vote by the identical number that Biden won over Trump. Instead of giving way and cooperating with a peaceful transition of power, Trump attempted a COUP D’É·TAT of his successor who won not only the electoral college vote but the popular vote by 6 million votes.

It is clear that Trump is the first fascist ever elected President of the United States who put himself above the law, his own country and his own party. Trump has no respect for our constitution nor free elections. His view is that the only votes that count are those that are cast form him, a lesson he probably learned from Vladimir Putin or Kim Jung Un. Trump’s strongest and closest allies and supporters need to come to their senses and the realization that Trump is a traitor to our country, to them, to all of us and to our democracy. Attempting to set aside the vote of the American people was an attempt to undermine our very democracy. It was a coup d’é·tat that failed.

The same goes for the “clown car” full of the Republican House and Senate members who initially sought to seek to set aside the 2020 victory of Joe Biden by voting not to certify the electoral college vote. Their conduct likewise is nothing less than in insurrection or rebellion against the United States and are democratic form of government. They too should be removed expelled by the House and Senate and if not voted out of office by their constituents. What is so damn disgusting is that there are way too many Senate and House Republicans that still defend Trump.

The physical damage is to the United State Capitol is easily repaired. The damage to our democracy by Führer Trump and his coup d’é·tat that failed will take years to recover from, if not at all.

Der Führer Trump’s Failed January 6, 2021 Coup d’é·tat Remembered; President Joe Biden Denounces Trump As Threat To Democracy

On the Morning of January 6, 2021, then President Donald Trump spoke to thousands of his upset and angry supporters in Washington, DC in front of the White House before Congress was scheduled to vote and accept the electoral college vote electing Joe Biden Presiden of the United States. For weeks prior, Trump and his supporters had been proclaiming January 6, 2021, as a day of reckoning, a day to gather in Washington to “Save America” and “Stop the Steal” of the election he had lost to Biden, but which he still maintained that he had won by a landslide.

INFLAMATORY REMARKS INSIGHTING RIOT

Der Führer Trump spoke for over one hour and ginned up his supports. The link to a transcript of the entire speech is here:

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-save-america-rally-transcript-january-6

The most inflammatory remarks and call to his followers to lay siege to the capital are clear and unmistakable and are worth quoting:

“We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four-year period. We’ve set it on a much straighter course.

In every single swing state, local officials, state officials, almost all Democrats made illegal and unconstitutional changes to election procedures without the mandated approvals by the state legislatures, that these changes paved the way for fraud on a scale never seen before. And I think we’d go a long way outside of our country when I say that.

We’re gathered together in the heart of our nation’s Capital for one very, very basic and simple reason, to save our democracy.

For years, Democrats have gotten away with election fraud and weak Republicans, and that’s what they are. There’s so many weak Republicans. … . The weak Republicans, and that’s it. I really believe it. I think I’m going to use the term, the weak Republicans. You got a lot of them, and you got a lot of great ones, but you got a lot of weak ones. They’ve turned a blind eye even as Democrats enacted policies that chipped away our jobs, weakened our military, threw open our borders and put America last. …
..
If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. You primary them. We’re going to let you know who they are. I can already tell you, frankly.

But this year using the pretext of the China virus and the scam of mail-in ballots, Democrats attempted the most brazen and outrageous election theft. There’s never been anything like this. It’s a pure theft in American history, everybody knows it. That election, our election was over at 10:00 in the evening. We’re leading Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia by hundreds of thousands of votes, and then late in the evening or early in the morning, boom, these explosions of and bullshit, and all of a sudden. All of a sudden it started to happen.

Look, I’m not happy with the Supreme Court. They love to rule against me. I picked three people. I fought like hell for them, one in particular I fought. … Let them rule the right way, but it almost seems that they’re all going out of their way to hurt all of us, and to hurt our country. To hurt our country.

Today, we see a very important event though, because right over there, right there, we see the event going to take place. And I’m going to be watching, because history is going to be made. We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves throughout history, throughout eternity, they’ll be ashamed.

And you know what? If they do the wrong thing, we should never ever forget that they did. Never forget. We should never ever forget. With only three of the seven states in question, we win the presidency of the United States.

When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules. So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do. And I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to. It is also widely understood that the voter rolls are crammed full of non-citizens, felons and people who have moved out of state and individuals who are otherwise ineligible to vote.

Yet Democrats oppose every effort to clean up their voter rolls. They don’t want to clean them up, they are loaded. And how many people here know other people that when the hundreds of thousands and then millions of ballots got sent out, got three, four, five, six, and I heard one who got seven ballots. And then they say, “You didn’t quite make it, sir.” We won. We won in a landslide. This was a landslide.

We must stop the steal and then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again, can never be allowed to happen again, but we’re going forward. We’ll take care of going forward. We got to take care of going back. Don’t let them talk, “Okay, well we promise,” I’ve had a lot of people, “Sir, you’re at 96% for four years.” I said, “I’m not interested right now. I’m interested in right there.”

We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. … Our country has had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore.”

We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated.

I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections, but whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four-year period. We’ve set it on a much straighter course.

And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women.

And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.

You’re the real people. You’re the people that built this nation. You’re not the people that tore down this nation.

Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy.

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue … , and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give… The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all.

TRUMP’S FOLLOWERS DID WHAT HE ORDERED THEM TO DO

Trump did not join the walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with the mob he just incited. Instead, he returned to the White House and watched on TV in the White House residence as the rioting, vandalism and killing occurred in the capitol. He waited hours before his staff urged him to do a video telling everyone to go home and that he loved them. No remorse and no condemnation.

Soon after Trump spoke, his supporters believing all Trumps lies that the election was rigged, when it was not, went to the United States Capitol to protest. The Congress had already begun the process of counting and certifying the electoral college vote. A mob was able to breach security and successfully enter the building, where one person was shot and later died.

Hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they engaged with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers “traitors” for doing their jobs. About 90 minutes later the domestic terrorists got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were locked.

Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police. Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the chamber, he was to perform his role in the counting of electoral votes. Some of the terrorists had even started to chant “HANG MIKE PENCE, HANG MIKE PENCE”.

The protesters first breached exterior security barriers, and video footage showed the domestic terrorists gathering and some clashing with police near the Capitol building. A number of Trump terrorists climbed up the side of the Capitol building to gain access. Windows were broken to gain access. Protesters roamed the interior of the building and went to the House Chamber and congressional offices and did property damage. In the end, 6 people died, one domestic terrorist shot and killed by capitol police with one capitol police officer succumbing to his injuries.

A link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2021/01/15/fuhrer-trumps-january-speech-nothing-short-of-insurgency-to-overthrow-government-senate-must-vote-to-convict-and-prohbit-trump-from-holding-office/

CONGRESS RETURNS TO WORK AND CERTIFIES BIDEN 46 PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Within 7 hours after protestors took over the Capitol building and after they were evacuated from the building, the Congress returned to work and about 4:30 am in the morning on January 7, President Joe Biden was elected the new President of the United Sates. The final electoral college vote was Joe Biden 306 electoral votes, Donald Trump 232 electoral votes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the congressional leadership wanted to continue by saying:

“Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden. … To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Hoyer will be sending out more guidance later today.”

Senate Republicans who planned to object to the election in multiple states Biden won withdraw their objections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor:

“United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. … We will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.”

After Congress finally certified President Biden’s election in the early morning hours of February 7, Führer Trump said:

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th.”

Notwithstanding his pledge for an orderly transition of power, Trump refused to attend the inauguration of President Joe Biden as his successor. Since leaving the White House, Trump has spread the big lie.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL’S ASTONISHING SENATE COMMENTS

A mere 24 hours before President Joe Biden was to be sworn in as the 46 President of the United States, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say on the Senate floor the last full day of Führer Trump’s presidency:

“The last time the Senate convened we had just reclaimed the capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop congress from doing our duty. The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like. But we pressed on. We stood together and said an angry mob would not get veto power over the rule of law in our nation, not even for one night. We certified the people’s choice for their 46th president.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/19/mcconnell-trump-provoked-capitol-attackers-460372

PRESIDENT JOE BIDENS ADDRESSES THE NATION ON JANUARY 6, 2022

On January 6, 2022, President Joe Biden denounced former President Donald Trump as a threat to democracy. Speaking in Statuary Hall in the Capitol, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation on a day of memorials.

The President’s speech was the most blistering speech marking a year since the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The speech was strong and methodical akin to a prosecutor summarizing the facts of the crime Trump had committed.

Following is a transcript of President Joe Biden’s full speech:

“Madam Vice President and fellow Americans, to state the obvious, one year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked. Simply attacked. The will of the people was under assault. The constitution — our constitution — faced the greatest of threats. Outnumbered in the face of a brutal attack, the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the National Guard and other brave law enforcement officials saved the rule of law.

Our democracy held. We the people endured. We the people prevail. For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election — he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again.

I’m speaking to you today from Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. This is where the House of Representatives met for 50 years in the decades leading up to the Civil War. It’s on this floor where a young congressman of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, sat at desk 191. Above him, above us, over that door leading into the rotunda is a sculpture depicting Clio, the muse of history.

In her hands, an open book, in which she records the events taking place in this chamber below. Clio stood watch over this hall one year ago today, as she has for more than 200 years. She recorded what took place — the real history, the real facts, the real truth, the facts and the truth that Vice President Harris just shared, and that you and I and the whole world saw with our own eyes.

The Bible tells us that we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free. We shall know the truth. Well here is God’s truth about Jan. 6, 2021. Close your eyes. Go back to that day. What do you see? Rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this Capitol, the confederate flag that symbolizes the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart.

Even during the Civil War that never ever happened. But it happened here in 2021. What else did you see? A mob, breaking windows, kicking in doors, breaching the Capitol, American flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears. Fire extinguishers being thrown at the heads of police officers. A crowd that professes their love for law enforcement assaulted those police officers. Dragged them, sprayed them, stomped on them.

Over 140 police officers were injured. We all heard the police officers who were there that day testify to what happened. One officer called it “a medieval battle” and that he was more afraid that day than he was fighting the war in Iraq. They repeatedly asked since that day, “How dare anyone, anyone diminish, belittle or deny the hell they were put through?”

We saw with our own eyes, rioters menace these halls, threatening the life of the Speaker of the House. Literally erecting gallows to hang the Vice President of the United States of America.

What did we not see? We didn’t see a former president who had just rallied the mob to attack sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House watching it all on television. And doing nothing. For hours. As police were assaulted. Lives at risk. The nation’s capital under siege.

This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people. They were looking to deny the will of the people. They were looking to uphold– they weren’t looking to uphold a free and fair election, they were looking to overturn one. They weren’t looking to save the cause of America. They were looking to subvert the Constitution.

This isn’t about being bogged down in the past. It’s about making sure the past isn’t buried. That’s the only way forward. That’s what great nations do. They don’t bury the truth, they face up to it. Sounds like hyperbole, but that’s the truth, they face up to it.

We are a great nation. My fellow Americans, in life there’s truth, and tragically, there are lies. Lies conceived and spread for profit and power.

We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. And here’s the truth. The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle. Because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest than America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can’t accept he lost.

Even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said. He lost. That’s what 81 million of you did as you voted for a new way forward. He’s done what no president in American history, the history of this country has ever, ever done. He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.

While some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it, trying to uphold the principle of that party, too many others are transforming that party into something else. They seem no longer to want to be the party, the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes. But whatever my other disagreements are with Republicans who support the rule of law and not the rule of a single man, I will always seek to work together with them, to find shared solutions where it’s possible because we have a shared belief in democracy, that anything is possible. Anything.

So at this moment, we must decide, what kind of nation are we going to be? Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth, but of the shadow of lies?

We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it. The big lie being told by the former president and many Republicans who fear his wrath is that the insurrection in this country actually took place on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020. Think about that.

Is that what you thought? Is that what you thought when you voted that day? Taking part in an insurrection, is that what you thought you were doing? Or did you think you were carrying out your highest duty as a citizen and voting? Former president’s supporters are trying to rewrite history. They want you to see Election Day as the day of insurrection. And the riot that took place here on Jan. 6 as a true expression of the will of the people.

Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country? To look at America? I cannot. Here’s the truth. The election of 2020 was the greatest demonstration of democracy in the history of this country. More of you voted in that election than have ever voted in all of American history.
Over 150 million Americans went to the polls and voted that day. In a pandemic. Some at great risk to their lives. They should be applauded, not attacked. Right now in state after state, new laws are being written not to protect the vote, but to deny it.

Not only to suppress the vote but to subvert it. Not to strengthen and protect our democracy but because the former president lost. Instead of looking at the election results in 2020, and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more votes, the former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections. It’s wrong, it’s undemocratic and frankly, it’s un-American.

The second big lie being told by the former president and his supporters is that the results of the election of 2020 can’t be trusted. The truth is that no election, no election in American history has been more closely scrutinized or more carefully counted. Every legal challenge questioning the results and every court in this country that could have been made was made and was rejected.

Often rejected by Republican-appointed judges, including judges appointed by the former president himself. From state courts to the United States Supreme Court. Recounts were undertaken in state after state. Georgia, Georgia counted its results three times with one recount by hand. Phony partisan audits were undertaken long after the election in several states, none changed the results. In some of them, the irony is the margin of victory actually grew slightly. So let’s speak plainly about what happened in 2020.

Even before the first ballot was cast, the former president was preemptively so in doubt about the election results. He built his lie over months, wasn’t based on any facts. He was just looking for an excuse, a pretext, to cover for the truth. He’s not just a former president. He’s a defeated, former president — defeated by a margin of over 7 million of your votes in a full and free and fair election.

There is simply zero proof the election results were inaccurate. In fact, in every venue where evidence had to be produced, an oath, to tell the truth, had to be taken, the former president failed to make his case. Just think about this. The former president and his supporters have never been able to explain how they accept as accurate the other election results that took place on Nov. 3. The elections for government, United States Senate, House of Representatives.

Elections that close the gap in the House. They challenged none of that. President’s name was first. Then we went down the line: Governor, senators, House of Representatives. Somehow those results are accurate on the same ballot but the presidential race was flawed. And on the same ballot, the same day cast by the same voters.

The only difference, the former president didn’t lose those races. He just lost the one that was his own.

Finally, the third big lie being told by a former president and his supporters is that the mob who sought to impose their will through violence are the nation’s true patriots.

Is that what you thought when you looked at the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through the desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of Congress? Patriots? Not in my view.

To me, the true patriots were the more than 150 Americans who peacefully expressed their vote at the ballot box. The election workers who protected the integrity of the vote. And the heroes who defended this capital.

You can’t love your country only when you win. You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.

Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy.

They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage. Not in service of America, but rather in service of one man. Those who incited the mob, the real plotters who were desperate to deny the certification of this election, defy the will of the voters, but their plot was foiled. Congressmen, Democrats and Republicans stayed. Senators, representatives, staff — they finished their work the Constitution demanded.

They honored their oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Look, folks, now it’s up to all of us, to we the people to stand for the rule of law. To preserve the flame of democracy. To keep the promise of America alive.

The promises at risk targeted by the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy — fear over hope, personal gain over public good.

Make no mistake about it, we’re living at an inflection point in history, both at home and abroad. We’re engaged anew in a struggle between democracy and autocracy. Between aspirations of the many and the greed of the few, between the people’s right of self-determination and self-seeking autocrat. From China to Russia and beyond, they’re betting that democracies’ days are numbered.

They actually told me democracy is too slow, too bogged down by division to succeed in today’s rapidly changing and complicated world. They’re betting, they’re betting America will become more like them and less like us.

They’re betting that America is a place for the autocrat, the dictator, the strong man. I do not believe that. That is not who we are. That is not who we have ever been. And that is not who we should ever, ever be. Our founding fathers, as imperfect as they were, set in motion an experiment that changed the world, literally changed the world.

Here in America, the people would rule. Power would be transferred peacefully, never at the tip of a spear or the barrel of a gun. They committed to paper an idea that they couldn’t live up to, but an idea that couldn’t be constrained.

Yes, in America, all people are created equal. The reject of you, that if you succeed, I fail. If you get ahead, I fall behind. If I hold you down, I somehow lift myself up.

The former president who lies about this election and the mob that attacked this Capitol could not be further away from the core American values. They want to rule or they will ruin. Ruin what our country fought for at Lexington and Concord, at Gettysburg and Omaha Beach, Seneca Falls, Selma, Alabama. And what we were fighting for — the right to vote, the right to govern ourselves, the right to determine our own destiny.

With rights come responsibilities. The responsibility to see each other as neighbors. Maybe we disagree with that neighbor but they’re not an adversary. Responsibility to accept defeat then get back in the arena and try again the next time to make your case.

Responsibility to see that America is an idea. An idea requires vigilant stewardship. As we stand here today, one year since Jan. 6, 2021, the lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated. So we have to be firm, resolute and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and to have that vote counted.

Some have already made the ultimate sacrifice in this sacred effort. Jill and I have mourned police officers in this Capitol Rotunda not once but twice in the wake of Jan. 6. Once to honor Officer Brian Sicnick, who lost his life the day after the attack and the second time to honor Officer Billy Evans, who lost his life defending this capital as well.

We think about the others who lost their lives and were injured and everyone living with the trauma of that day, and those defending this capital, to members of Congress in both parties and their staffs, to reporters, cafeteria workers, custodial workers and their families. Don’t kid yourself. The pain and scars from that day run deep.

I’ve said it many times, and it’s no more true or real when we think about the events of Jan. 6. We are in a battle for the soul of America. A battle that — by the grace of God, and the goodness and greatness of this nation — we will win. Believe me, I know how difficult democracy is, and I’m crystal clear about the threats America faces.

But I also know that our darkest days can lead to light and hope. From the death and destruction as Vice President referenced in Pearl Harbor can then triumph over the forces of fascism, from the brutality of Bloody Sunday and the Edmund Pettus Bridge came historic voting rights to this nation. So now let’s step up, write the next chapter in American history where Jan. 6 marks, not the end of democracy but the beginning of a renaissance of liberty and fair play.

I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today. But I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. And I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy. We will make sure the will of the people is heard. That the ballot prevails not violence. That authority in this nation will always be peacefully transferred. I believe the power of the presidency and the purpose is to unite this nation. Not divide it. To lift us up, not tear us apart. To be about us, about us, not about me.

Deep in the heart of America burns a flame lit almost 250 years ago of liberty, freedom and equality. This is not a land of kings or dictators or autocrats. We’re a nation of laws, of order not chaos. Of peace, not violence. Here in America, the people rule through the ballot and their will prevails.

So let us remember together. We’re one nation, under God, indivisible. That today, tomorrow, and forever at our best, we are the United States of America. God bless you all. May God protect our troops. And my God, bless those who stand watch over democracy.

The link to the transcript of President Joe Bidens as well as the speech of Vice President Kamala Harris is here:

https://www.yahoo.com/gma/full-transcript-biden-harris-speak-160600892.html

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

What is disgusting and the act of a traitor is that what unfolded on January 6, 2021 was an attack on our country, our very democracy, by a President of the United States who lost his election for a second term and who still refuses to accept his defeat to this day. Der Führer Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes only to win the electoral college vote by the identical number that Biden won over Trump. Instead of giving way and cooperating with a peaceful transition of power, Trump attempted a COUP D’É·TAT of his successor who won not only the electoral college vote but the popular vote by 6 million votes.

It is clear that Trump is the first fascist ever elected President of the United States who put himself above the law, his own country and his own party. Trump has no respect for our constitution nor free elections. His view is that the only votes that count are those that are cast form him, a lesson he probably learned from Vladimir Putin or Kim Jung Un. Trump’s strongest and closest allies and supporters need to come to their senses and the realization that Trump is a traitor to our country, to them, to all of us and to our democracy. Attempting to set aside the vote of the American people was an attempt to undermine our very democracy. It was a coup d’é·tat that failed.

The same goes for the “clown car” full of the Republican House and Senate members who initially sought to seek to set aside the 2020 victory of Joe Biden by voting not to certify the electoral college vote. Their conduct likewise is nothing less than in insurrection or rebellion against the United States and are democratic form of government. They too should be removed expelled by the House and Senate and if not voted out of office by their constituents. What is so damn disgusting is that there are way too many Senate and House Republicans that still defend Trump.

The physical damage is to the United State Capitol is easily repaired. The damage to our democracy by Führer Trump and his coup d’é·tat that failed will take years to recover from, if not at all.

Proposed $50 Million In Covid-19 Tests, $10 Million For Masks Reflect Good Intentions, But Short-Term Benefit; Allocate Money To Educate And Offer Cash Payment To Motivate People To Get Vaccinated

The New Mexico Legislature 30-day session is scheduled to begin on January 18, 2022. A head of the upcoming legislative session, State Senator Jeff Steinborn, Democrat from Las Cruces, has “prefiled” legislation proposing that the State distribute free high-quality masks and COVID-19 test kits to the public under a $60 million plan.

The proposal would tap into the state’s allocation of federal funds to provide $10 million for KN95 or equivalent masks and $50 million for at-home tests. The legislation would draw on unspent federal relief funds already sent to New Mexico. According to a January 5 Albuquerque Journal report, Steinborn’s proposal would call for the Department of Health to distribute masks and at-home test kits with $60 million in funding. The agency would also launch a statewide education campaign on the importance and proper usage of masks.

According to the news report “the push for better masks and increased testing comes as New Mexico prepares for a spike in cases fueled by the omicron variant. The state’s test positivity rate for the last seven days reached 19.8% on Tuesday, about 8 percentage points higher than a week ago.”

Steinborn, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said it’s important for more New Mexicans to upgrade from cloth masks to N95 or KN95 masks offering more protection and had this to say:

“This funding can help provide some of the most powerful tools we have to limit the spread of COVID, and that’s high-quality masks, and convenient accessible tests.”

NEW MEXICO’S VACCINATION NUMBERS ARE STRONG

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico’s vaccination rate is relatively strong ranking among the top 15 in some categories. Upwards of 76% of New Mexico adults have completed their initial vaccination series and upwards of 36% have received a booster shot.

According to the most recent United State census, New Mexico has a population of 2,117,522.

https://www.census.gov/library/stories/state-by-state/new-mexico-population-change-between-census-decade.html

Other raw data provided by the New Mexico Department of Health as of Tuesday, January 5 is as follows:

NUMBER OF FULLY VACCINATED: 1,362,075 out of total population of 2,117,522
TOTAL DOSES RECEIVED: 3,733,035
TOTAL DOSES ADMINISTERED: 3,422,665
TOTAL NUMBER OF DEATH: 5,897
DOSES GIVEN IN LAST SEVEN DAYS: 42,406
POSITIVE TESTS: 359,117
NEGATIVE TESTS: 5,378,337

NEW MEXICO HOSPITALIZATIONS UP WITH 5,897 TOTAL DEATH TOLL

On Tuesday January 4, The New Mexico Department of Health on Tuesday reported 1,654 new COVID-19 cases and reported 493 patients hospitalized for the disease, a 4% increase over Monday. The state announced 31 more COVID-19 deaths, 20 of them in Bernalillo County with 23 fatalities happening in the last 30 days, and 8 happened earlier. The official statewide death toll is now 5,897 residents.

People who are NOT fully vaccinated have made up a disproportionate share of New Mexico’s infections. Those not faxinated comprised 70% of new cases, 84% of hospitalizations and 84% of deaths in the most recent four-week period with data available, according to a state epidemiology report released December 27, 2021.

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/2458768/proposal-calls-for-free-masks-at-home-tests.html

OMICRON MAKES UP MORE THAN HALF OF THE COVID-19

On Wednesday, January 5, New Mexico Department of Health officials reported 2,514 additional COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths and that Omicron now makes up more than half of the COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. Dr. David Scrase, acting cabinet secretary with the New Mexico Department of Health, said Omicron cases currently make up about 50% to 60% of all new cases. He expects it will make up 100% of new cases in another week or two.

Scrase said hospitals are still struggling with just 9 intensive care units (ICU) beds and 40 surgical beds in the state. The shortage is due to 497 COVID patients in the hospitals. Over the last month, unvaccinated people made up about 66% of new COVID-19 cases, more than 83% of hospitalizations and 88% of deaths.

“New Mexico has also adopted the CDC’s recommendation to stay home for just five days after a positive test – as long as you have no symptoms.

• If you test positive, CDC guidance says you should stay home, in a room away from others, for five days.
• It’s recommended you take another test at the end of five days, but not required.
• If you have no symptoms after five days, you can leave the house – but wear a mask for five more days.
• Stay home until your fever is gone for 24 hours, and tell anyone you’ve had close contact with about your positive result.
• If you have symptoms but test negative, the guidance is to take a second test within two days.

State health officials are also reminding people what to do if you are a close contact:

• If you’re up to date on your vaccines, wear a mask for 10 days and test on day five if possible.
• If you’re not vaccinated, stay home for five days, then take a test, and wear a mask for five more days.”

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/omicron-makes-up-more-than-half-of-covid-19-cases-in-new-mexico/6350404/?cat=500

STATE RAMPING UP RAPID COVID HOME TESTING

On January 5, the New Mexico State Health Department announced will start giving out thousands of at-home COVID-19 tests for free. Starting Thursday, January 6, the Department of Health will be giving out 35,000 tests in zip codes where there are higher levels of social vulnerability and places with high case rates. Dr. David Scrase, NM Human Services Secretary, had this to say in justifying giving out the tests:

“We will be seeing a rise in cases, we’re very confident in the next two to four weeks.”

Dr. Laura Parajon, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Health added:

“We are I think as a state ramping up as the whole United States as a nation trying to ramp up, but not quite catching up to omicron just yet.”

According to Parajon, if you take that home test and if you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, you need to stay at home for five days, per the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, whether you’re vaccinated or not. Dr. Parajon also said you don’t need an additional PCR test if you’re positive and said:

“Sometimes people are like, ‘oh I got my rapid home test, it’s positive, let me go look for a PCR test. … You don’t need to get that. If you’re positive, you’re positive.”

The link to quoted source material is here:

https://www.koat.com/article/new-mexico-covid-vaccine-omicron-nmdoh/38680274

GALLUP POLL

A Gallup poll released in November 2021 found that 74% of U.S. adults have been vaccinated against COVID-19, which is virtually unchanged from what was found in October, roughly 10 months after shots were first widely administered to the general public. The total percentage either vaccinated or planning to be vaccinated is at 80%. Most of the 20% of U.S. adults who are not vaccinated and do not plan to be describe themselves as unlikely to change their mind. Just 16% of the vaccine-resistant group in October, representing about 3% of all adults, say they are likely to agree to be vaccinated in the future.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/356945/adults-covid-vaccinations-steady-teen-jabs-tick.aspx

CITY AND STATES THAT HAVE OFFERED CASH INCENTIVES TO GET VACCINATED

It was in December of 2020 that the COVID 19 vaccines became available. After a full year of availability, 20% of U.S. adults are still not vaccinated and don’t plan to be vaccinated. President Joe Biden urged state and local officials to offer $100 cash payments for COVID-19 vaccinations as the delta variant spread in the summer of 2021. Some have even suggested paying as much as $1,000 or more. Stephen L. Carter, a professor of law at Yale University, in a column for Bloomberg Opinion in the fall of 2021 wrote “Get a shot, get a check … Incentives work.”

https://www.today.com/health/should-people-be-paid-get-covid-19-vaccine-t201847

City’s and states have in fact offered financial incentives to people to get the vaccines. Following are 4 of the most notable as reported in an edited Forbes Magazine report on December 21, 2021:

“NEW YORK CITY

In the week leading up to December 18, roughly one out of every 200 people in New York City tested positive for COVID. To fight further spread, then Mayor Bill De Blasio revived the $100 incentive, this time for booster shots received by December 31 at eligible clinics around the city.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana has regularly extended its $100 vaccination incentive, and the rise of Omicron earned it an even longer life. Residents had until December 31 to get their vaccine at a participating community-based site. For those efforts, they received a $100 gift card. To date, more than 34,000 have been distributed.

MISSOURI

With just 61% of the population partially vaccinated, Missouri is one of the most vaccine-hesitant states. And the incentive program there is underutilized, but it’s still up and running. Officials earmarked $11 million in $100 gift cards for the vaccinated, but have handed out only a fraction of those, as just 20 of the 115 eligible health departments in the state have opted into the program. Funding for that program ends on Dec. 31, but gift cards can be issued into next year.

VERMONT

Rather than targeting hesitant adults, who often aren’t persuaded to get a vaccine or booster for cash, officials in Vermont are focusing on schoolchildren, with a new incentive program for schools that will pay per vaccinated student through April 1, 2022. Schools that see an 85% vaccination rate for eligible students will receive $15 per student, for a minimum award of $2,000 and a maximum of $10,000, with those that have a better than 90% vaccination rate having an opportunity to receive $15,000.

WEST VIRGINIA

Governor Jim Justice is focusing on the opposite end of the spectrum. Only 26% of West Virginia’s 50 and over population has gotten a booster shot, leading the state to offer a $50 incentive for them to do so.”

The link to the full and unedited FORBES Magazine story is here:

https://fortune.com/2021/12/21/vaccination-incentive-booster-omicron-100-dollars-new-work-walmart/

OVER 100 YEARS OF VACCINE MANDATES UPHELD BY THE COURTS

[Over a century] plenty have argued against the legality of vaccine mandates [even] reaching the Supreme Court many times. But the courts have routinely protected the rights of states to require vaccinations in the interest of public health.

In Jacobson v. Massachusetts, justices held that a health regulation requiring smallpox vaccination was a reasonable exercise of the state’s police power that did not violate the liberty rights of individuals under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court recognized the possibility of adverse events following vaccination and the inability to determine with absolute certainty whether a particular person can be safely vaccinated. But it specifically rejected the idea of an exemption based on personal choice. Doing otherwise “would practically strip the legislative department of its function to [in its considered judgment] care for the public health and the public safety when endangered by epidemics of disease,” the Supreme Court said.

In Zucht v. King, the high court ruled against the plaintiff, who used a due process 14th Amendment challenge to argue against city ordinances that excluded children from attendance if they failed to prove vaccination. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that “these ordinances confer not arbitrary power, but only that broad discretion required for the protection of the public health.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:

“History of vaccine mandates in the United States”

https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/history-of-vaccine-mandates-in-the-united-states

The United States Supreme court has said in rulings that it is constitutional in a public health crisis for the government to require people to do certain things or to prohibit certain things that they normally would not do or could do.

In 1905, during the small pox epidemic, the United State Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905), upheld the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. The United States Supreme Court upheld the authority of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to require smallpox vaccinations when a Massachusetts minister, not on religious grounds, refused to get a vaccination for the disease.

The US Supreme Court’s decision was that the freedom of the individual must sometimes be subordinated to the common welfare and is subject to the police power of the state. The court ruled that the state did have a right to legally require the vaccinations. The United State Supreme Court came down in favor of state governments being allowed to mandate vaccinations so long as it is reasonable to protect the public health, safety and welfare of citizens.

It is also well settled United States Supreme Court constitutional case law that the legislative branch can give the executive branch the authority to issue executive orders in times of national emergency over private enterprise. In 1952, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) that the authority to issue executive orders is whatever authority the legislative branch gives to the executive.

The case involved President Harry Truman. Truman order seizing of the steel mills and directed the steel mill presidents to operate mills as managers for the United States during the Korean War. The Supreme Court found that Truman did not have the authority. The Supreme Court found that the President’s power, if any, to issue such an emergency order must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself. Subsequent Supreme Court ruling have found that “executive power” of the President and by extension state governors to issue executive orders is whatever power the congress or the state legislators gives to them by enactment of legislation giving them those powers.

The link to a related blog article is here:

https://www.petedinelli.com/2020/05/17/gov-mlg-orders-35-million-in-emergency-funding-to-deal-with-pandemic-republicans-act-boneheaded-about-gov-mlgs-pandemic-health-orders-gop-needs-to-let-her-do-her-job/

COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS

There is no doubt that State Senator Jeff Steinborn’s plan to spend $10 million on high quality covid masks and $50 million on covid tests is well intentioned. The state is also ramping up offering Covid 19 home tests. The pandemic has now been going on for a full 2 years and has been prolonged because of at least 3 variants and because people simply refuse to take the vaccines.

Way too many refuse to not believe the science and feel it is a violation of their constitutional rights to be ordered to be vaccinated which is absolute nonsense. For over a hundred years, it has been well settled United States Supreme Court law that government can mandate vaccines of citizens to deal with health care crises as was the case with the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918. Further, vaccinations for children have been mandated for decades to attend public schools. Small pox and polio vaccination mandates have also been around for decades.

It would have made sense a year ago to spend $60 million of public funds for masks and tests before the vaccines. It does not make much sense now with 3 vaccines developed, offered for free, and with 70% of new cases and 84% of hospitalizations and deaths made up of people who are not fully vaccinated or who refuse to get vaccinated. It not at all likely if you refuse to be vaccinated that you will wear a mask let alone stick a swab up your nose for a Covid 19 test.

As odd as it may sound to some to pay hold outs to take the vaccinations, there are more than a few examples of people getting compensated in a health setting. Those examples include paying people to donating plasma or taking part in medical studies. Many companies also offer financial incentives for employees who take part in wellness programs, including reducing health insurance premiums or funding a worker’s health care account.

https://www.today.com/health/should-people-be-paid-get-covid-19-vaccine-t201847

After two years, making high end masks and Covid 19 tests available will have short term benefits. The long term goal is to get the states 755,447 remaining population vaccinated. (NM total population of 2,117,522 – number of fully vaccinated 1,362,075 = 755,447). Simply put, until everyone is vaccinated, the pandemic will continue.

What the New Mexico legislature should explore is to allocate funding to continue to educate the population on the safety of the vaccines. Further, cash incentives and gift cards to people to get vaccinated or receive booster shots need to be offered.

The blunt truth is, you have no constitutional rights if you are dead from COVID 19. You have no constitutional right to be reckless and intentionally catch and spread a contagious disease that results in death of another. Please do the right thing, get the damn vaccine so we can put an end to this pandemic.