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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Alcohol Mixed With Hypocrisy: Startling Police Video Of Rep. Youngblood DWI Arrest Bares All; Legal Beagle Analysis And More, Plus: Progressive Or Not? ABQ Congress Hopeful Damon Martinez Scrutinized By Left 

Rep. Youngblood on police video
Rarely, if ever, have we seen a sitting New Mexico elected official so publicly humiliated as we did with the release of the police lapel camera video of the DWI arrest of ABQ GOP State Representative Monica Youngblood.

In the 44 minute video Youngblood was not only devastated politically but personally crushed and embarrassed beyond her worst nightmare.

When police stopped Youngblood, who the AP reports was recently divorced, she explained to the officer that she was driving home after visiting her boyfriend and having a fight with him. The political devastation came as Youngblood repeatedly said she had not been drinking and the APD officer repeatedly responding that her contention could easily be proven if she would take the breathalyser test, but again and again she rejected the offer.

Then there was the bargaining with the officer in an effort to get him to back off the arrest as she sat handcuffed in his patrol car:

People tell me that you guys treat people of color like shit, and I always stand up for you guys. I stick up for you guys, and I say, you know what, they wouldn’t treat you like shit  if there wasn’t a reason. . . 

Then this politically deadly exchange: "I literally fight for you guys," Youngblood declared. “Well that doesn’t make it OK to drink and drive,” quickly responds the officer who in his report said he smelled alcohol on her breath.

After her arrest there would come crying, more pleading and the panic and fear that must have been uncomfortable for even her harshest critics to view. It was some of the more mortifying and embarrassing moments ever filmed of a public official in the long history of La Politica.

The state GOP hierarchy was stalled on facing the inevitable--getting Youngblood out of her re-election race to her Westside district as soon as the June 5 primary is over. But GOP attorney general candidate Michael Hendricks wasn't waiting as he called for Youngblood to go:

No one is above the law. Although, everyone is entitled to due process, the fact that Rep. Youngblood refused the breath test would intimate something to hide. As the Attorney General, I will fight crime, no matter who the offender. . . This is a Representative who has championed bills to increase punishment for all criminal activity, including DWI; and, this poor choice shows that the people of New Mexico cannot rely on her judgment. We cannot allow our leaders to flaunt the law in this way and expect all other citizens to abide by the law. . .I call on Monica Youngblood to resign her position as State Representative for District 68.

Top Dems have been mum on Monica, but the Dem Party did wade in a bit:

The Democratic Party is calling on Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate Rep. Youngblood for using her position as an elected member of the legislature to attempt to influence a police investigation. . . In the video. . .Rep. Youngblood continually tells the officers she is a legislator and that she runs bills to protect police, works hard for police, and stands up for them when people say they "treat people of color like (expletive)". Youngblood asks multiple times for special treatment. . .  “Legislators should never use their position to attempt to influence police officers and I am calling on Attorney General Balderas to investigate Rep. Youngblood for her actions," said DPNM Chairwoman Marg Elliston. 

The pressure on Youngblood to get out is enormous. If she doesn't it's hard to see how the seat doesn't go to the Dems, not to mention the prolonged soap opera and additional humiliation she would endure.

Now 41, Youngblood was once considered a rising star in the Republican Party, similar in standing to Susana Martinez when she entered the statewide stage. Ironically, it was alcohol mixed with hypocrisy that undid both. For Martinez, the self-described tough on crime Governor, it was her infamous 2015 holiday pizza party from which she made an under the influence phone call demanding preferential treatment that ended her rise. Now this infamous Youngblood DWI video, from a state representative who parades about with a tough on crime platform.

Martinez never did reclaim her popularity after the pizza party. For a distraught Youngblood it's not about reclaiming her political standing, but her life.

LEGAL BEAGLE ANALYSIS 

More on Monica's case now from one of our Legal Beagles:

Joe, it seems to me that Monica’s “I regret” statement regarding her refusal to take a breath test is geared toward setting up a defense, whether at trial or outright dismissal. By making that statement, she is implying that she is not guilty. She’s saying she regrets not taking it because it would have shown she was not drinking. That’s what she is telling the public, which includes prospective jurors. 

From the video, she knew that the officer was accusing her of drinking, and she could have easily ended it right there by simply taking the test. She’s a legislator who worked on this matter, she knows. But, she knew the results would show otherwise, and that is why she refused. And her statement about bringing this matter to a “swift and just conclusion” means she’s expecting the case to go away quickly. But, not by pleading straight up to the charges, she means dismissal or a sweet plea deal. 

In my experience with thousands of DWI cases, a refusal to do a breath test was just as good to prosecutors as a case with a test result above the limit, especially when you have evidence of impaired driving and drinking like you did in the case of former Martinez cabinet secretary Ryan Flynn. That’s why there is no doubt about special privilege and connections in the Flynn case. We will see what District Attorney Torrez does with Monica. 

BernCo DA Torrez will be under even more scrutiny if  he has to deal with a fighting Youngblood. Possible Dem primary challengers to Torrez in 2020 are especially watching.

PROGRESSIVE OR NOT?

Damon Martinez 
The tight as a tick race for the ABQ Dem congressional nomination has been increasingly focused on the progressive credentials of former US Attorney Damon Martinez who has emerged as one of the front-runners despite garnering only 11 percent of the March preprimary convention support where progressives held sway.

First they hit him for not being in favor of Medicare for all, but his campaign rejected that claim, saying he fully supports it and added that if given the chance he would vote for the Medicare bill sponsored by progressive Senator Bernie Sanders.

Then there's the assault weapons ban. Is Martinez for it? In making their editorial endorsement of Martinez, the ABQ Journal noted he was for banning bump stocks but did not mention assault weapons. His campaign says he is "certainly" in favor of banning
assault weapons. As for a specific piece of legislation, the campaign says when the new Congress is seated next January there will be renewed efforts to ban the weapons and he will look at the bills introduced and may even introduce one of his own.

Supporters of Martinez say the strikes against him from progressives come because he is a former prosecutor--a US Attorney--and the progressives see prosecutors as using the law against citizens. But his backers see him as a criminal justice reformer who, for example, forced change at UNM in regard to its sexual assault policies.

But the distrust lingers and his critics point to a controversial federal sting operation to thwart drug dealing in the ABQ SE Heights that ended up targeting the poorest of the poor and minorities, not heavyweight drug kingpins. They also score him over the many fatal ABQ police shootings that led to the Justice Department taking control of APD, saying he did not flex his muscle over the errant shootings when he was US Attorney. Martinez backers say he was quick to implement the Justice consent decree but add that much of the responsibility for that rests in DC not locally.

KISS OF DEATH

As for the conservative newspaper endorsing Martinez--also known jokingly as "the kiss of death"--progressives immediately decried the backing, charging yet again that it showed Martinez to be a conservative in progressive clothing. This time candidate Pat Davis did the honors:

No surprise that (they) endorsed the most conservative Democrat in our race; the same Democrat getting help from a million-dollar SuperPAC funded by Wall Street bankers and Republicans. I’ll put my endorsements from our progressive Weekly Alibi, labor, and gun violence victims, against the Journal any day. They’ll never support a gay former police officer who decriminalized marijuana, protected immigrants and - most importantly - has shown he can take on the NRA and Fox News on a national stage.

We're covering the ABQ Dem congressional primary like it's the be-all-end all because, well, it is. With all due respect to our old friend and the more than capable Janice Arnold-Jones, who will be the GOP nominee, and Libertarian Party hopeful Lloyd Princeton, the Dems have a lock on this seat that can't be picked.

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