Monday, August 27, 2012
Pat's Disturbing Pattern; More Offending Email, More Embarrassment For Guv; Time To Resign His GOP Post? Plus: The Janice Bashing of Rogers & Co., Also: Dems Tap Supreme Nominee & Impact Of Grisham Commission Resignation
Rogers has already been forced to resign from the board of directors of the NM Foundation for open Government because of his role in emailgate. His latest leaked email comments that hit the headlines late last week are related to Native Americans and are even more politically toxic. So much so that they are making news around the world.
In the latest email he jokes to the Governor's senior staff that Governor Martinez's recent tribal summit with Native Americans was disrespectful to General Custer. He quickly apologized for the remarks which were in an email to top Martinez administration officials as well as Martinez political adviser Jay McCleskey.
Rogers' deep ties to the mainstream media, his position at the Modrall Law Firm and his membership in the upper echelons of the current GOP power clique offers him a degree of protection. But how embarrassing is it for the nation's first Hispanic female Governor to be pulled unto the middle of this crude "joking" as she prepares to be showcased this week at the GOP national convention as an example of how the R's embrace minority advancement? She had to disown the email, but her office was tepid in its criticism:
“...(She) doesn’t agree with the comments in the email, and is proud of the work that has been done to cultivate a strong relationship with New Mexico’s tribes.”
What? Nothing about bringing Rogers up to Santa Fe for a gubernatorial rebuke? Maybe Susana needs more minorities among her top staff or advisers to perhaps discourage the "playfulness" of Rogers and his ilk in this majority minority-state?
When the Governor looks like the token member of "the club" and not its leader, it's time for some new faces--(that is if she really cares about leading the club).
As for Rogers, he again dismisses any complaints about his public behavior as partisan:
I made a poor attempt at humor in a private email, and it’s being twisted by a partisan group...I certainly intended no offense, but I do apologize.
The Rogers emails have been leaked by the Independent Source PAC, a union-financed group that has been highly critical of the Martinez administration.
State GOP Chairman Monty Newman knows Rogers is in deep and could take the party there, but it sounds as if he wants to see if the issue will fade because he is not calling for Rogers' resignation:
“The exaggerated attempt at humor in Committeeman Rogers’ email regarding the governor’s important meeting with tribal leaders does not reflect the views of the Republican Party of New Mexico. However, we recognize and support the apology he has given.”
That's it? Just what are "the views" of the state GOP, Chairman Newman? The problem here? The R's captured two major offices held by Democrats--Governor and Mayor of ABQ--because of excesses by one and because another stayed around too long. If the Republicans truly want to establish themselves as something more than an occasional back stop, they are going to have to be sensitive to the concerns of all New Mexicans.
Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [Janice Arnold Jones]...The state is going to hell. Col. Weh would not have dishonored Col Custer in this manner. I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist [redistricting law suit] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the Gov....
Allen Weh and Arnold-Jones ran against Martinez for the 2010 GOP Guv nomination.
The Rogers reference to Arnold-Jones, this year's ABQ GOP congressional nominee, was not included in the newspaper's coverage of this latest Rogers mishap, but it is a major political story playing out in the background. Arnold-Jones is not only the subject of ridicule by Rogers and the gang, but they have also appeared to work to deprive her of campaign funds.
Arnold-Jones is known as a moderate Republican. For example, she does not support the death penalty and during her tenure in the state House she was known for reaching across the aisle. She also has a reputation for being an advocate for government transparency.
But in the take-no-prisoners, die-before-you-compromise Martinez era, Arnold-Jones is persona non grata. She could make a major splash and begin the process of rebuilding the moderate side of the GOP by calling for Rogers to resign as national committeeman. Until she or other prominent Republicans--(Hello, Heather Wilson) find the courage to stand up to the boys club surrounding this Governor, we appear destined to have government by gridlock and plenty of more "humor."
Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan represents the northern district whose population is nearly 20% Native American. The Rogers remarks were a lay up for him:
"It's unbelievable that a Republican National Committee leader--and someone so closely tied to the Martinez administration--would say something so reckless and disrespectful. These types of deplorable actions have no place in politics or government, and they should be condemned by Governor Romney, Governor Martinez, and the RNC."
State Dems also lashed Rogers for his latest mishap, but again, it is up to New Mexico Republicans to police themselves. But courage is hard to find in the face of the club that is wielded against anyone who dares to speak out. From Chairman Javier Gonzales:
I am calling on the Governor to denounce these statements by Pat Rogers at once, but that's not enough. She should also ask the RNC to remove him from his role as committeeman, and she should immediately remove him from her own inner circle and cease doing business with him.
This blast of Rogers from All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) Chairman Chandler Sanchez is noteworthy. Native American pressure could end Rogers' tenure as national committeeman:
...I am appalled by the statements made by Pat Rogers...The statements are racist in tone and sadly disappointing coming from someone who should know better. What’s unfortunate is the June 8th remarks appear to be directed at the tribal leaders who were meeting with Governor Martinez at a mandated state/tribal summit on Mescalero Apache homelands. On behalf of the Pueblo Governors who attended the summit, I demand a public apology from Mr. Rogers to New Mexico’s tribal leaders, and secondly, I call upon the Republican National Committee to remove Mr. Rogers from his official capacity within the Committee...
Resignation would seem the honorable route, no?
We said in the first paragraph that the Rogers emails poke fun at Native Americans, gays and Hispanics. We've covered the Native American comment. As for the Hispanic references, here they are:
“[Coca-Cola corporate] are, apparently, of the mind that, perhaps, a Republican NM lobbyist wouldn’t hurt,” Rogers wrote. In an apparent reference to Martinez’ political advisor, Jay McCleskey, he added, “As this is unrelated to the poor Hispanic Dr. Pepper girl that Jay hates, I would appreciate a plug if Beserra calls.”
And this December 15, 2011 email from Rogers to Martinez Chief of Staff Keith Gardner:
Can you go to lunch with us after the 11 a.m. meeting with the Gov? Merry Christmas. Still can't believe what you did to Sheryl, my half Spanish friend.
The Rogers gay quips came when he was discussing the Governor's appointment of a gay man to the state Public Regulation Commission:
“He promised on his boyfriend's grave he would support [PRC member} Pat Lyons for Chair...
And then there's the continuing saga of Rogers' role in winning the state racino lease for the Downs at ABQ, the subject of an investigation by the attorney general and some FBI questioning.
It was announced that in the absence of Governor Martinez this week--who is attending the GOP national convention in Tampa--that Secretary of State Dianna Duran will be acting Governor. It wasn't officially announced, but we're told that in the absence of Jay McCleskey--who is also in Tampa this week--State Senator "Lightning" Rod Adair will be the acting "Shadow Governor."
CLASH FOR THE COURT
Since no Republican has been elected to the five member court since 1980, Judge Vigil, a 12 year veteran of district court, becomes the instant front-runner.
Her GOP opponent is expected to be well-known ABQ attorney Paul Kennedy who Governor Martinez is expected to appoint to the court to fill the vacancy left by the August retirement of Dem Justice Patricio Serna. The GOP State Central Committee is then expected to name Kennedy as their candidate for the November election. After that, the Vigil-Kennedy race will be joined. The winner will fill out the rest of Serna's term which runs through 2016. Supreme Court justices serve eight year terms.
Vigil, an UNM School of Law graduate, defeated former US Attorney and 2000 Dem ABQ congress candidate John Kelly, a longtime New Mexico power player with ties to Bill Clinton and Senator Jeff Bingaman. The vote was 197 to 178.
Kelly had former NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon manage his campaign, but it wasn't enough. Vigil had the inside track on the nomination. The retiring Serna was seen as supportive of Barbara as was Chief Justice Petra Maes. The fact that the seat was being vacated by a Hispanic judge was also seen as a factor in Vigil's win.
Kelly and Vigil engaged in a run-off after a first round of balloting ended the candidacies of ABQ Indian law specialist Cate Stetson, Michelle Hernandez of the Modrall Law Firm and Workmen's Compensation Judge Victor Lopez.
Like Hernandez, Kelly is a member of the Modrall law firm. Some of his supporters felt that the offensive email dealing with Native Americans that was in the news Saturday and was sent by Republican attorney Pat Rogers--also a Modrall atttorney--may have played a bit part in Kelly's defeat.
Vigil, a native New Mexican who lives in Santa Fe and earned her undergraduate degree at New Mexico State, was nominated Saturday by former NM House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. That signaled that the trial lawyers--a powerful Dem Party interest group--were in her corner.
(Thanks to Stephen Jones of the Dona Ana County Dems for the photo).
The Modrall Sperling law firm is a legacy firm in the ABQ area, but it may be in hot water because of Rogers' way with words. And it could cost them money and clients. The firm has always had GOP leanings--but more of the business variety--not the social issue agenda that some argue has sent the party over the cliff. Let's take a look at the Facebook action:
Attorney Harold A. Monteau is a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of Montana and is a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Law who has practiced in the Indian Law area for 25 years, concentrating on Tribal Government and Jurisdiction. He went after Rogers And Modrall on his Facebook page:
There are no Indians in the firm and very few minority members. Mostly white men. They did have one Indian partner who left the firm and is now a judge. They most often represent clients that
are on the opposite side of a tribe, especially in business related matters and litigation and...they represent the Oklahoma Tax Commission which litigates against tribes at the drop of a cigarette or pull tab. They are quite high up in the Republican food chain in NM and nationally.
Racial bigotry can lie latent until something like this brings it out of the behind closed doors culture that perpetuates it. Of course, they always claim or have someone of the minority persuasion claim that they are not racially prejudiced or bigoted, but res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.
MORE FROM THE TRAIL
As our Alligators predicted several weeks ago, Grisham has now resigned from the Bernalillo County Commission effective September 7. That has set off a scramble to replace her among Democrats, with ABQ City Councilor Debbie O'Malley and former Councilor Miguel Gomez two of several politicos who will vie to replace her. (Educator Teresa Brito-Asenap and lawyer Sarita Nairare among the others).
Whose name will go on the November ballot to replace Grisham will be decided by ABQ central committee members from the Dem and Republican parties. Governor Martinez will make an appointment to the seat when Michelle resigns. That is expected to be GOP attorney Simon Kubiak who previously sought the commission seat. That will give the R's a majority on the five member panel for the first time in a long time, even if it is expected to be short-lived. The Dem nominee to replace Grisham will be heavily favored to take the seat in the November election and take office January 1.
THE PASEO FACTOR
If O'Malley gets the Dem nomination from the Central Committee and wins election to the county commission, she would still be on the City Council through the end of the year. That's important to note because Mayor Berry has been trying to get a "super majority" of councilors--seven of the nine--to approve $50 million in bonds to rebuild the I-25/Paseo Del Norte freeway exchange.
O'Malley and two other Dem councilors (Benton and Garduno) instead want the issue to go to the voters for a Nov. 6 decision. Berry would get to appoint a council replacement for O'Malley--giving him his super majority--but not until well after she was elected a county commissioner in November. A decision on Paseo must come before then with O'Malley at the table. That means there is not going to be a super majority for Paseo and the city council is going to have to to put it on the November ballot or put up over $500,000 for a special election.
(There is a also a lawsuit out there that challenges the residency of Dem Councilor Ike Benton that could have him removed from the council, but legal insiders say it has very little chance of succeeding).
Paseo has become mired in the legal weeds, with an attorney general opinion saying the city can't put a city issue like Paseo on the general election ballot because city elections require voters to present a photo ID and state elections do not. The compromise being pushed by Councilor O'Malley is for the City Council and Mayor to agree to suspend the photo ID requirement for this city election only and let the vote for Paseo be held with the November 6 election.
Our City Hall insiders say Berry and the R's are expected to play ball and that we can expect Paseo to be on the November ballot.
The mayor and five Republican councilors are under pressure to support a compromise because it was their insistence that the Paseo project be paired with a controversial sportsplex on the October 2011 city election ballot that caused it to be soundly rejected. That stalled the Paseo rebuild.
Another wrinkle for the R's: Groups seeking an increase in the minimum wage have submitted enough signatures to get the issue on the election ballot. If, as expected, the Mayor and the R's agree to suspend photo ID for Paseo, they will have little choice but to also put the minimum wage on the November ballot. That could increase turnout for Democratic candidates, but it's a hit the R's would best be advised to take, instead of shouldering blame for further delaying Paseo and forcing an expensive special election.
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