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Thursday, March 01, 2018

Was The Fix In For Flynn? Investigative Report Casts Major Doubt On DA Torrez Decision In Politically Connected DWI Case; Questions Over A Susana Link And DA Office Funding Explored  

DA Torrez
The peculiar alliance between Democratic Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and Governor Martinez and her political machine and how that played into Torrez reaping extra millions for his budget from the recent session of the Legislature is back in the spotlight. It raises anew serious questions about how Torrez's office handled a DWI bust of former Martinez environment cabinet secretary Ryan Flynn, who is now executive director of the NM Oil and Gas Association.

An investigative report from the Santa Fe Reporter and NM In Depth explores questions first asked here in a January blog:

Was the fix put in for Flynn when he was arrested for aggravated DWI last May and when Torrez's office reduced that to the much less serious charge of careless driving? And was that a favor rewarded by Martinez with her unprecedented public support for his increased budget request and other political snuggling they have engaged in? 

Torrez is all over the map on this one. He told the Legislature he needed extra money in part to increase his DWI conviction rate, but the veteran officer who arrested Flynn says it was a no-brainer that Flynn had been drinking to excess, had bloodshot eyes and smelled of booze and booked him for DWI. So why go light on Flynn if you are truly trying to improve drunk driving convictions? The DA's office gives a tortured explanation with Torrez himself saying he was not "directly involved" in the Flynn decision. But then a spokesman for Torrez called the reporters back and says the DA was not involved at all in the Flynn case. What is one to make of that?

The investigative report, replete with the officer's lapel camera video of the Flynn arrest, casts major doubt on the DA's decision.

We can add some context from our sources: On the night of his arrest Flynn, 39, was attending a fund-raiser hosted by Gov. Martinez for her Legacy PAC at the Marriott Pyramid. After the event ended Flynn and Jessica Perez, Martinez's finance director, drove to a Nob Hill bar to host some donors. Later they left the bar to go back to the Marriott Pyramid where Flynn's erratic driving led to his arrest around Midnight.
Flynn DWI test

Ironically, on the same day the investigative report was published this week the Martinez-friendly ABQ Journal editorial pages, which started out not liking Torrez but since have embraced him, was publishing a glowing editorial about his stance on guns.

Torrez received an extra $4 million from the Legislature after he enlisted the Governor, the media and the public to put pressure on the Senate Finance Committee. That's when the Flynn/Torrez connection surfaced on our blog. Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith was reluctant to give him the money but he caved under the pressure while warning the DA he will have to show results.

Now that the Flynn Fix has been uncovered it is sure to haunt Torrez as he pursues his political future. But for the Martinez machine it's just another day in the life. Flynn says  the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association will be "the most powerful organization in the state of New Mexico." 

GUV HEAT

Lujan Grisham
Jeff Apodaca told us this week the Dem pre-primary nominating convention is being "rigged" by the party for Rep. Lujan Grisham, and with her complicity. She's expected to come out on top at that March 10 convention and her campaign responds that Apodaca's accusations are "baseless:"

It is disappointing that Jeff Apodaca is making baseless accusations against our campaign and against the droves of supporters who have shown up at meetings across the state to support Michelle. She has been overwhelmed by the support she has received at these grassroots meetings from Taos to Las Cruces and from Gallup to Loving. We understand that Jeff and his campaign are disappointed by the lack of support for his campaign but to try cast doubt on the votes of hundreds of New Mexicans who turned out to vote for Michelle is unfortunate and a slap in the face to the thousands of volunteers organizing for Michelle across the state.

People are excited about the opportunity to represent Michelle at the state convention and see her as our next Governor. That excitement continued to build in every corner of the state over the last few months at delegate trainings, grassroots organizing meetings, and at local democratic conventions attended by hundreds of supporters, including many who have never been involved before.

THE BOTTOM LINES

In a first draft Wednesday we called the ABQ westside district of Senator Jacob Candelaria "heavy R." We meant to say it is "heavy Dem." And about Candelaria's resignation as Senate Dem Caucus Chair because Majorly Leader Peter Wirth is celebrating the death of the PNM bond bill Candelaria sponsored, reader Savannah Baca writes:

I'm glad Senator Wirth stopped that Bill! PNM has profited huge from the plants in Farmington. Why should we consumers be saddled with the recovery costs? Farmington talks about job losses  If you look at the power company that supplies power to the northeast corner, they don't even buy their power from those plants. I wasn't surprised Candeleria sponsored that bill. Industry knows what senators and representatives are for sale.

Candelaria's arguments for the bill were covered extensively here Wednesday.

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