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Friday, November 13, 2015

Week Ends in Frenzy Of Speculation Over McCleskey Charges, Plus: Guv Scores A Hit At The End Of Her Lousy Week, And: More Bail Talk 

McCleskey & Martinez
The political week ends the way it started--in a frenzy of speculation over whether Gov. Martinez's top political adviser Jay McCleskey will face indictment over campaign finance violations and/or other charges or whether the revelation that a Federal grand jury is looking into possible abuses will simply fade away.

When former Gov. Richardson was subjected to a federal probe on possible corruption charges, the story dragged on for months. Finally, the US attorney at the time issued an unusual and controversial statement that in essence said Richardson would not be indicted but he deserved to be.

The Feds are not obligated to issue such a statement if a person has been investigated but is not going to be indicted, but the R's could use the Richardson example in pushing for some kind of confirmation that McCleskey is in the clear--if indeed he is. Otherwise, the unanswered question could have a significant impact on GOP fund-raising efforts as well as the election in general.

As for the investigation's status today, a number of sources know at least a piece of this puzzle but the entire narrative remains a mystery. And that's a recipe for even more frenzied speculation in the days ahead.

JUDGE JUDY 

 Nakamura (Bralley)
It was a lousy week for Gov. Martinez, but she scored a hit at the end of it with her appointment of ABQ District Court Judge Judy Nakumara to the NM Supreme Court. The 55 year old longtime area judge was pinpointed on the blog last month as the favorite to succeed retiring Judge Bosson.

Nakumara is a Republican but she has impressed both sides of the aisle with her service on both metro and district courts. Tough but fair is the moniker most applied to her. She comes out of the political school of former Senator Pete Domenici, a moderate R when there was such a species. It is hoped that Nakamuara will bring that sensibility to the high court.

None of this means she will have a safe seat on the five member court. She will have to seek election next year if she is to fill out the rest of Bosson's term which expires in 2020. It is a rare feat for an R to get elected as a Supreme. All five justices are currently Dems. But with her appeal in big Bernalillo County Nakumara is a strong candidate for the GOP, forcing the Dems to come up with a solid candidate of their own. This could be a race to watch next year.

A VOTING PAST

It turns out that Dem Idalia Lechuga-Tena, appointed this week by the Bernalillo County Commission to the ABQ SE Heights state House seat vacated by Stephanie Maez, actually voted illegally in two elections, not one, and she did so not as a teenager--as we first blogged--but as a young adult. The news:

Lechuga-Tena. . . admits that she voted illegally in two elections before she became a U.S. citizen in 2007, something she called a mistake of youthful innocence.
State voter registration records show that Lechuga-Tena voted in the Albuquerque municipal election in 2003 at age 20 and in the state primary election in 2004.
“I take full responsibility for the mistake I made,” she said. “This is why I will be working on voter education as one of my priorities.”

BAILING OUT

Lots of debate over that proposed constitutional amendment that would allow state judges to deny bail to a defendant and that will be battled over in the '16 session of the Legislature. Here's another reader viewpoint:

There are two parts to the amendment. The first part is getting all the hype and press. It calls for keeping bad criminals in jail without bail. Most agree that this is a good idea. The second part of the amendment is getting no attention and it runs counter to the first part. The second part states that a person’s financial inability to make bail shouldn’t keep them in jail. It almost seems like log rolling--two different ideas in the same proposed constitutional amendment. The first part says “keep them locked up” and the second part says “if they are poor or indigent, turn them loose on their own recognizance.” Say what?

So a guy can be a violent offender with a long record but not so bad that he could be locked up without bail as delineated in the first part of the amendment. He can then claim to be indigent under the second part of the amendment and be released. It makes no sense. Plus, who is going to go round up these criminals who simply disappear after being released on their own recognizance? This will be a huge unfunded mandate to local governments and their police forces plus it will run counter to the first part of the amendment by allowing violent criminals to roam the streets.

The proposed bail amendment to keep violent criminals locked up is fine but the last sentence needs to go.

If the Legislature approves the amendment, it would go on the November 2016 ballot.

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by.

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