John Block

ABQ gun store owner Louie Sanchez fights back against Gov. MLG’s cease and desist order

On Saturday, Louie Sanchez, the owner of Albuquerque gun store Calibers and former Republican U.S. Senate candidate appeared on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” to discuss his decision to remain open despite Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s cease and desist order calling his business “non-essential.” He said his business with continue to stay open regardless of the Governor’s order.

But Sanchez contends that “under Michelle Lujan Grisham’s… order, we actually are considered essential.” He explained that “in Section F, as we tried to explain to them, that you are considered essential if Law Enforcement and MIlitary uses your facilities. And as of up to two days ago, we actually had law enforcement from ATF, FBI, Albuquerque Police, State Police, Sheriffs, etc. using our facility. And then Thursday night at 5:00, we got a visit from our friends at the State Police with a cease and desist order, telling us that we are considered ‘non-essential.’”

When asked about social distancing and remaining open, Sanchez said, “Not only is it a right as for every American to bear arms as in our Constitution, but it’s a right for every small business also. We have small businesses that are getting destroyed in this sate,… but we have big box stores that have never closed. And my wife and I have lived in this city for our whole lives, and we were going to the big box stores and there was no social distancing going on. Small businesses in New Mexico, we can control exactly how many people come into our store.”

On Friday, Sanchez posted the news of the Governor shutting him down from his Facebook page, writing, “It’s amazing how the Governor is picking ‘winners and losers’ as small businesses are closed all over the state and thousands of people are now unemployed. Small businesses new and old which will never recover or reopen [their] doors again.”

“But she is allowing big box stores to stay open even though they’re selling the same products or services. Small businesses are the economic backbone of this state employing thousands of hard-working New Mexicans. We appreciate all of our customers and the thousands the calls, emails and social media support that we have received. God Bless everyone during this time.”

In recent weeks, the governor has come under intense scrutiny for sending small businesses that provide essential goods and services cease and desist orders. On the eve of Easter, Lujan Grisham announced a ban on church gatherings, triggering local churches to defy her orders. The Las Cruces Bishop announced he will resume church services in this diocese, a first of any Catholic prelate in the nation. Legacy Church filed a lawsuit against the Administration, however, on Friday, their temporary restraining order to halt Lujan Grisham’s mandate was denied by an Albuquerque Judge.

Gov. MLG’s comms. director: NM GOP is a ‘death cult’ wanting more New Mexican COVID-19 deaths

On Thursday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s communications director, Tripp Stelnicki tweeted out a jab at anyone who is trying to reopen New Mexico’s economy — a group mostly led by Republicans worried about fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Earlier this week, the New Mexico Republican Party pushed back on Lujan Grisham sending cease and desist orders to New Mexico businesses staying open to provide necessary goods and services, despite the Governor labeling many businesses “non-essential.”

On Tuesday, the New Mexico Business Coalition unveiled its plan to reopen the state’s economy, beginning with allowing businesses who can operate under the current guidelines of 20% capacity to reopen. “When you look at all the goods and items that can be purchased in a big box store, for example, why could we not purchase those locally? If we were to do that, we would get more businesses open,” said NMBC President Carla Sonntag.

During Lujan Grisham’s Thursday address, she made clear she has no intention of letting up on restrictions yet, saying, “…we are not at a point currently where it would be safe to reopen.”

The same day as the Governor’s address, Tripp Stelnicki wrote up a tweet directly targeting the Republicans who are aiming to help reopen the state’s economy. He wrote, “You don’t have to ask the death cult their opinion or publish their quotes. False equivalence now is actually life or death. There is no “both sides” to this. There is one group preaching accelerated illness & death because they “love” “business” & if you can’t see through that?”

Republican state leaders rebuked Stelnicki’s jab at their concerns as a “death cult,” with the Republican Party responding, “This outrageous tweet, suggesting that Republicans want to get more New Mexicans to contract COVID-19, is shocking and disgraceful. The tweet shows to what lengths the Governor’s Office will go to scare the public and politicize the pandemic. The tweet is disgusting and twisted, and the Governor’s Office is way out of line with this monstrous claim. Nothing is further from the truth.”

Moderate Republican Rep. Rebecca Dow of Silver City suggested Stelnicki’s tweet goes against state laws mandating state employees cannot be “engaging in a political activity while on duty,” citing the New Mexico statute. 

The Governor has not responded to her communications director’s statement, which appears to have violated state statutes barring state employees from political activity while on duty. The Republican Party of New Mexico has demanded an apology from the Governor’s office in response to Stelnicki’s jab at Republicans. 

Previously to working for Gov. Lujan Grisham, Stelnicki worked as a reporter for the left-wing paper, the Santa Fe New Mexican, and has bashed President Trump and Republicans on countless occasions, such as in September 2019 when President Trump visited Rio Rancho, New Mexico for a rally. Stelnicki mocked the President about how he would pronounce “Rio Rancho.” 

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Governor’s spokesperson, Nora Meyers Sackett, said, “The tweet in question does not reference any person, group, or organization specifically by name — if someone seems to think it’s about them, I’d say they’ve placed that upon themselves.”

Las Cruces bishop first in U.S. to resume Mass as MLG’s State Police hunt down church ban defiers

On Wednesday, Las Cruces Bishop Peter Baldacchino advised his priests to resume their ministry, in accordance with state-ordered health guidelines, making it clear he does not agree with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s order of no more than five people congregating in one place. 

“We [as priests] have been called by Christ and ordained to serve the people of the Diocese of Las Cruces, to bring them hope and consolation during this difficult time,” Baldacchino wrote.

“In the events of these days and weeks the Lord is calling us out of our comfort zone, he is calling us to seek new ways to reach the people. In addition to this mission with which we are entrusted, we also have the mission to keep people safe. The two must be equally pursued.” 

“While it is true that we need to take every reasonable precaution to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, it is equally true that we offer the greatest ‘essential service’ to our people. The past few weeks have brought to light many unintended consequences of the ‘stay-at-home’ order,” he continued.

According to the Catholic News Agency, “Baldacchino is the first U.S. bishop known to have amended a previously declared diocesan ban on public Masses since the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the U.S. last month.”

The news comes amid Gov. Lujan Grisham sending State Police out to hunt down people of faith who are defying her ban on church gatherings announced the day before Easter Sunday.

In the Governor’s announcement of the ban, she said she wanted to make clear that “home is also holy,” mentioning the Jewish Passover and the Islamic Ramadan as other holy occasions. The announcement just so happened to come out the same day the Albuquerque Journal published an op-ed from a leftist columnist who harassed an elderly pro-life man, where she echoed much of the same language in the piece. 

Audio obtained by KIVA 93.7 FM/1600 AM’s “Rock of Talk” host Eddy Aragon, shows state police calling churches, saying they’ve had “complaints” that the churches have remained open, and they must suspend all gatherings immediately.

In once call from an “Officer Price” to the New Hope Revival Church, he informs the church they are “non-essential and this business should be closed down until further notice until this epidemic is over and completed.”

 Another call from Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office to Pastor Jeff Carr of Mesa Baptist Church in Rio Rancho informs the church of the Governor’s order while giving guidelines that are supported, including “online services, drive-in services where people remain in the car with their windows rolled up… or listen to a radio service, honk their horns for ‘Amen!’ and so on.”

On Monday, Legacy Church in Albuquerque filed a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico claiming Gov. Lujan Grisham violated the First Amendment protecting their freedom of religion. Head Pastor Steve Smothermon said, “Really what I consider a very egregious act on her part that at 5 o’clock on Saturday she puts out this new order for churches basically not making churches essential when they were before, and she does it on the eve of Easter.” 

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a statement on social distancing and religious practices in light of a church in Greenville, Mississippi where congregants were fined $500 for participating in a church service from their cars. “Even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” wrote Barr. 

The Las Cruces Bishop’s decision to resume Catholic mass services will test what lengths Gov. Lujan Grisham is willing to go to clamp down on religious believers practicing their faith, as she is allegedly a member of the Catholic faith.

Dems cry ‘voter suppression’ after Dem-majority NM Supreme Court blocks all-mail election

On Tuesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court dealt Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and the Democrat Party a crippling blow in their attempt to use the COVID-19 pandemic to push for an all mail-in ballot election, despite New Mexico’s ancient voter records.

The Court unanimously sided with the Republican Party of New Mexico, with Chief Justice Judith Nakamura saying, “The relief that is requested is specifically prohibited by New Mexico statute … which says that a mail ballot shall not be delivered by the county clerk to anyone other than the applicant for the ballot.”

The Court found a solution to the pandemic concerns with in-person voting by ruling that the state should send out absentee ballot applications to be filled out and sent back, which both followed current statute and curbs potential for widespread fraud. 

A deep-dive from the Public Interest Legal Foundation found countless instances of inconsistencies in the New Mexico voter rolls, with 3,168 registrants flagged with duplicate concerns, 1,681 dead residents, 1,519 voters aged over 100 years old, 64 of which are aged over 120, and 188 registered with a commercial address. — # of Registrations flagged for duplicate concerns: 3,168

The Republican Party of New Mexico hailed the Supreme Court’s decision, writing in a statement, “The court’s refusal to rewrite New Mexico election law—to allow the unsolicited mailing of live ballots as part of an all vote-by-mail (VBM) election–shows the proper respect for the importance of election integrity, even in the face of the challenges posed by COVID-19.”

The hard-left dark money Democrat Party-linked 501c4 nonprofit “ProgressNow NM” bemoaned the Court’s decision to follow written law, claiming “this is a rough day for democracy in New Mexico,” despite the ability of citizens to vote legally with absentee ballot applications.

Secretary of State Toulouse Oliver sent out a statement begrudgingly accepting the decision, saying, “My office will comply with the court’s order and mail absentee ballot applications to all voters registered with a major political party. That’s why it’s important that eligible voters register to vote or update their voter registrations by May 5.”

The Democrat Party of New Mexico sent out a statement once again using the COVID-19 crisis as a pelting board to launch attacks at the Republican Party. The statement claimed the NM GOP is attempting to “suppress the vote,” despite the Party asking for the Court to rule in the bounds of current law. 
The New Mexico Supreme Court is made up of four Democrats and one Republican.

‘Mom and pop’ shops selling necessary goods served with cease and desist orders by Gov. MLG

On Monday, farming and ranching store Bar G Western Wear in Portales announced via Facebook that they had been served with a cease and desist order by State Police for keeping their doors open. The store sells essential items needed by farmers and ranchers to keep their businesses running.

Bar G Western Wear’s post reads, “Soooo folks… we’ve just been served with a CEASE and DESIST order! Apparently there were several complaints against us. (Snitches/Busybodies…..who would have thought). The NM State Police were very professional and nice. We will pursue this further. Thanks for the overwhelming support!”

State Rep. Gregg Schmedes (R-Tijeras) responded to the news with outrage, writing, “Apparently Governor Grisham doesn’t believe farmers & ranchers are essential. Where are they supposed to go to get supplies and work clothes? MLG, you’re wrong. These are the good guys, and they are ESSENTIAL. #TooFar”

The Republican Party of New Mexico has pushed back on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s orders that allow large corporations like Walmart to keep their doors open during COVID-19, while small “mom and pop” shops are hurting, many being sent cease and desist orders if they remain open to provide essential goods and services to their communities.

“Somewhere the Main Street owners of mom and pop stores in New Mexico need to be spoken for,” said Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce. 

Lujan Grisham’s office shrugged off the concerns by writing, “Any half-thought-out proposal about picking winners and losers and allowing partial closures … will lead to more illnesses and more death.”

Ex-ABQ Mayor Marty Chavez to SD Governor: ‘We don’t care if we make you sick’ with COVID-19

On Monday and Tuesday, former Democrat Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez took to Twitter to defend the policies of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and to go after Republican governors with whom he disagrees.

Early Tuesday morning, Chavez responded to a Twitter video from Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem giving South Dakotans information on how they can slow the spread of coronavirus. He wrote in response, “North Dakota – we don’t care if we make you sick.” Chavez apparently meant to direct his aggression at South Dakotans, despite him writing “North Dakota.”

Gov. Noem has not issued a mandated “stay-at-home” order for her state, despite heavy criticism from Democrats, despite the measures put in place by Noem have cut initial projected infection rates in South Dakota. Noem says Dr. Anthony Fauci has applauded her response to COVID-19.

Noem’s response differs greatly to New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s mandates, including a stay-at-home order, and State Police is tasked with enforcing the guidelines by citing businesses disobeying the order, with civil penalties of up to $5,000. 

Lujan Grisham has taken heavy criticism in recent days over banning church gatherings the day before Easter Sunday and allowing abortion facilities to kill babies through abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the CDC guidelines to “Delay inpatient and outpatient elective surgical and procedural cases.” Abortion is never medically necessary and thus is an elective procedure.

But despite the deadly pandemic, Chavez is defending the Governor’s proposals, writing on Twitter in response to a Republican U.S. Senate candidate decrying the Governor’s order, “Your solution being to allow mass gatherings as long as people are praying?  Hilarious.” It appears Chavez is mocking people of faith for praying on Easter, a Constitutionally-protected religious freedom.

On Monday, Legacy Church in Albuquerque filed a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico for violating their First Amendment right to religious freedom.

In response to a commenter criticizing Lujan Grisham keeping abortion clinics open while banning church services, Chavez wrote, “A doctor and his or her patient making an important health care decision versus 300 or so people who gather, infect and spread killer disease to thousands. Not really the same.”

Chavez’s tweet may be seen by many as ironic, since abortion is the act of killing a human baby through unnatural measures, while he is trying to make the case that the “important health care decision” to kill the child is necessary during a deadly pandemic.

On Good Friday, Southwestern Women’s Options (SWO) late-term abortion clinic had a full parking lot, thanks to the governor’s order. SWO ends babies’ lives up-to and after 7 months gestational age. 

MLG says Trump doesn’t have ‘national strategy,’ talks up Biden presidency on Easter CNN interview

On Easter Sunday, one day after banning New Mexico from attending Church services, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined Jake Tapper for an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Right off the bat, Lujan Grisham offered criticisms of the Trump Administration, accusing the President of not having a “national strategy.” She said, “If we had better national strategies and better national data, and universal testing, and software [inaudible] contract tracing, then we can really figure out when opening makes sense.” 

When pressed about her administration using Descartes Labs to track New Mexicans through cell phone data in order to gather information about social distancing and citizens’ privacy concerns, Lujan Grisham went on the defensive. She said:

“Some folks got confused that somehow this is state data and [a] state effort, and it isn’t. It’s also aggregate cell phone data for the entire country. And Descartes Labs is a data — large data firm and they do incredible work managing any huge types of information that can be beneficial. So we treat this as a tool that allows us to figure out whether our social distancing — more than just looking at the cases, but looking at where people are traveling, how long people are traveling, and get a sense about whether we need to do something else that limits person-to-person contact and enhances our social distancing. In terms of oversight, if it was anything that we thought in this company or anybody else that was breaching already robust federal or state laws protecting privacy, a) we wouldn’t have a relationship, and b) we would do the appropriate accountability, but they’re just using aggregate data. We don’t have any idea who any of the cell phone numbers belong to — not just in New Mexico but nowhere in the country.”

Some have made the case that the use of grading counties by compliance to “social distancing” disproportionately affects rural New Mexicans who have to drive long distances to reach grocery stores and other “essential” businesses, as opposed to people in urban areas who have a shorter distance to drive to get these essential items.

When asked about Joe Biden potentially picking her as his vice-presidential running mate, and if she would accept the nomination, Lujan Grisham answered, “ Well, I will do this: I think that you want a vice president who was much like former vice president Biden. He knew how to govern, he had done a ton of work as a senator and in local government as well, and I think those are incredible attributes. I want to be the governor of New Mexico. I will do whatever it takes to support a Biden administration, and I’m looking forward to a federal administration that can do a national strategy in good times and in bad times both.”

NM leaders respond with outrage after MLG bans church services on eve of Easter

On Saturday evening, the eve of the Easter holiday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she is banning all religious gatherings of five people or more.

Despite many church services already canceling their Easter gatherings, Lujan Grisham rescinded her previous exception for religious services, writing, “absolutely clear that mass gatherings of any type are not permitted in houses of worship.”

“We know that you want to practice your faith, as you should. But this year we must remember that home is holy. The best thing you can do for your community is to stay there,” she continued.

But many New Mexico leaders did not take kindly to the Governor’s unilateral decision to ban people from practicing their faith on Easter, citing that her limit of only five people gathering would cripple churches planning on streaming live online services which would require more than five people to put together.

House Republican Whip Rep. Rod Montoya wrote in a statement, “Governor, despite what you think, these services are essential! To make this decision the day before Easter is egregious.  I am advising churches across our state to continue to produce and offer online services going forward; this order today cannot and will not stand.”

Rep. David Gallegos wrote on Facebook on Saturday, “With just a few hours to go before Easter Sunday, the Governor’s office sent out an emergency executive order adding churches and places of worship to her list of banned mass gatherings. It’s impossible for churches to produce services they can film or livestream with 5 people or less in a room. Doing this the day before Easter is just the wrong thing to do. We need to stand up to the Governor. She has gone too far.” 

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Although church services are now banned on a state level by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, abortion clinics are allowed to stay open, despite health concerns.

MLG ‘expects’ all New Mexicans to celebrate Easter at home, proclaims Easter Bunny as ‘essential service’

On Saturday Gov Michelle Lujan Grisham published a video on Twitter wishing the state a happy Easter with a surprise appearance from the Easter Bunny.

“I want to first thank the faith-based community for supporting us directly and making sure that we’re clear that home is also holy,” said Lujan Grisham.

“We have signed a proclamation that the Easter Bunny delivering goodies and baskets statewide is considered an essential service or this Easter holiday weekend,” explained the Governor. 

Later in the video, she was joined by the Easter Bunny, wishing everyone a “Happy Easter.”

Lujan Grisham’s tweet reads, “This Easter, home is the holy place. I expect all New Mexicans to stay safe by staying home to celebrate, not gathering with friends and family. Together, we will have a safe and happy Easter – by staying apart. BUT tell the kids not to worry: the Easter Bunny is essential!”

NM gun groups sue MLG after she orders closure of all firearm stores and shooting ranges

On Friday, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, representing the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association, the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment Foundation, and various New Mexico retailers filed a lawsuit against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her closure of firearm stores and shooting ranges. 

According to her order, which was extended to April 30, she classifies the businesses as “non-essential,” despite the U.S. Department of Homeland Security affirming that such businesses are, indeed, essential. 

“The government has no duty to protect you, and coronavirus-related impacts to law enforcement could be significant, so times like now are precisely when people must be able to acquire self-defense tools to defend their lives and homes,” FPC President Brandon Combs said. “We are proud to participate in this important case to defend the people’s right to keep and bear arms against government abuses in New Mexico.”

“Grisham has used this crisis to continue her assault on the rights of law-abiding citizens while other Democratic governors in states such as Colorado have deemed these establishments “essential” and actually protected their residents’ right to purchase and own guns,” writes the NRA.

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