New Mexico

U.S. House GOP ramps up investigation into Haaland for misusing position

Republican U.S. House Natural Resources Committee leaders have escalated an ongoing investigation into Joe Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland regarding her connections to the left-wing environmental activist group Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA).

A letter sent to Secretary Haaland and the top Interior Department ethics official, Heather Gottry, and spearheaded by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., raises concerns about a potential “lack of impartiality and misuse of her position” in support of PAA and certain family members. Haaland’s daughter has been involved with PAA, while her husband has been engaged in consulting work related to Interior Department actions.

The GOP letter asserts that there is evidence suggesting Secretary Haaland may not have acted impartially and may not have avoided creating an appearance of partiality in her official duties. It further alleges that Haaland may have misused her position to benefit the non-profit organization Pueblo Action Alliance and even used her position, title, and authority to endorse the organization’s work.

The letter highlights that prior to her role as Secretary of the Interior, Haaland was associated with the origins of PAA. Additionally, evidence suggests that she has maintained a close relationship with PAA since assuming her position.

The investigation was initiated by Chairman Westerman in June, shortly after Secretary Haaland implemented a ban on fossil fuel leasing within 10 miles of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. This move garnered opposition from local Native Americans and residents but received support from other tribes and environmental groups.

The Pueblo Action Alliance had previously advocated against new leasing near Chaco Canyon, with Haaland’s daughter, Somah, playing a role in lobbying on behalf of the group during a trip to Washington, D.C.

The letter also points to Haaland’s meetings with PAA Executive Director Julia Bernal, during which they discussed the group’s opposition to oil and gas leasing. Moreover, it highlights Haaland’s husband’s consulting work for the Laguna Development Corp, an entity affiliated with the Laguna Pueblo, which has advocated for a buffer zone around Chaco Canyon.

The investigation raises concerns about Secretary Haaland’s impartiality in matters involving PAA and the potential misuse of her position for the benefit of the organization. It also questions whether non-public information may have been inadvertently conveyed to PAA due to the group’s extensive access to Secretary Haaland.

The letter further notes PAA’s associations with groups like the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and the Venceremos Brigade. The Republicans are seeking communications and documentation related to the investigation and have requested documents that the Department of the Interior has yet to provide.

“The Committee feels there is evidence that Secretary Haaland may not have acted impartially and did not avoid the appearance of a loss of impartiality in the performance of her duties. More alarmingly, there is evidence that Secretary Haaland misused her position for the potential benefit of a nonprofit, the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA), and used her position—or at the very least permitted the use of her position, title, and authority—to endorse PAA and PAA’s work,” the letter read.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, co-signed the letter with Chairman Westerman. As of now, there has been no immediate response from the Department of the Interior or PAA regarding the investigation.

“We support this investigation because these are serious allegations against Secretary Haaland, and we deserve to know the truth,” said Larry Behrens, Communications Director for the pro-energy group Power The Future. “There is no question there are close ties between Secretary Haaland and radical eco-left groups, but that doesn’t mean she gets to use her position to force their agenda on the rest of us. The Interior Department has proudly declared they are offering the fewest oil and gas leases in history, and that raises questions if they are serving Americans or doing the bidding of their closely-tied special interest groups.”

Alamogordo man reports confrontations over Walmart self-checkout machines

Walmart is facing renewed criticism over its self-checkout policies, with customers expressing frustration at feeling like criminals during their shopping experiences. Charles Bisbee, a Walmart shopper from Alamogordo, shared his encounter while using the self-checkout lane at his local store, according to a report by The Sun.

According to Bisbee, an employee approached him and reached into his bag to retrieve a container of energy drink mix, bluntly asking, “Are you going to pay for that?” Bisbee described the interaction as “confrontational” and explained that he had already scanned the item, even pointing to the screen as proof.

Bisbee, who resides in Alamogordo, New Mexico, emphasized the tight-knit nature of his military community and how accusations of theft can tarnish one’s reputation unfairly. He also shared a similar incident involving his father, a retired colonel, who was confronted by a worker due to a missed-scan alert for a gallon of milk. The alert system, implemented by Walmart in 2019 to deter theft, has inadvertently caused discomfort and hostility in various customer interactions.

Walmart employees conveyed that they are not allowed to directly accuse customers of theft, even in cases where suspicions arise. However, shoppers have reported feeling labeled as thieves due to innocent mistakes or technical glitches, causing distress. Daniel Jones, another customer, expressed his shock when the self-checkout kiosk played security footage of an alleged missed-scanned item. He felt accused of a crime and feared that the video playback in his work uniform might lead others to believe he was stealing. An employee approached Jones, questioned him, and reactivated the system, leaving him feeling “punished” for utilizing the hand scanner.

These incidents have left many honest shoppers feeling unwelcome and unfairly treated, as they are erroneously perceived as thieves. Walmart responded to the concerns, stating, “We’re continuously working on our security processes, and we encourage customers with concerns to let us know. Our associates are trained to handle these situations professionally and respectfully, ensuring our customers have the best shopping experience possible.”

The ongoing criticism underscores the importance of striking a balance between loss prevention and maintaining a welcoming shopping environment where customers are not unfairly subjected to suspicion or embarrassment.

Failed TX candidate Beto O’Rourke visits NM to promote book

Former El Paso-area U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, a failed candidate for Texas governor and U.S. Senate, visited Las Cruces on Friday to promote his new book and complain about “democracy” not working.

During the event, O’Rourke discussed the themes of his book, “We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible.” The book explores what he claims to be the link between voting rights and the broader spectrum of societal improvements.

“I wrote this book to understand why our democracy and the right to vote is under such serious attack and what we can do to prevail in what I believe to be the fight of our lives,” O’Rourke said.

He added, “In the research and writing, I discovered truly inspiring stories of people who’ve been in this fight before, people like Lawrence Nixon, a Black doctor who lived in El Paso and spent 20 years of his life fighting and ultimately defeating the ‘white primary’ in Texas and laying the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Not only can we overcome the challenges in front of us, we’ve overcome them before against much greater odds.”

The public gathering took place at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, situated at the intersection of University Avenue and Espina Street. 

O’Rourke has been a fervent opponent of gun rights and supporter of extreme abortion up-to-birth, among other radical policies. 

MLG under fire for nixing missing and murdered Native Americans task force

Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s regime has decided to discontinue a state task force that was established to address the crisis of missing and murdered Native American people. The task force had not convened since May, shortly after some of its members publicly opposed the appointment of former San Ildefonso Pueblo Gov. James Mountain as the head of the Indian Affairs Department, which housed the task force.

Task force member Cheryl Yazzie (Diné) expressed disappointment, feeling that they were making significant progress and that their work had only just begun. The fate of the task force remains uncertain, with neither the department nor James Mountain communicating with its members regarding its future.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the task force, the governor’s press secretary, Caroline Sweeney, claimed the group had fulfilled its objectives outlined in an expired executive order. However, the administration continued to fund and convene the group for a year after these objectives were met.

Several state lawmakers have called for additional staff to support the recommendations made by the task force. However, some, including Democrat Sen. Shannon Pinto (Diné), believe that additional staff alone may not be sufficient, as the task force brought together a diverse group of individuals to advocate for more effective action.

The task force was initially established in response to the crisis of missing and murdered Native American people, an issue that has affected Native American communities for generations. New Mexico leads the nation in the number of missing and murdered Native American women and girls. The task force faced challenges due to a lack of data from various law enforcement agencies but managed to make some headway.

The group’s recommendations led to legislative actions, such as creating a new position in the Attorney General’s Office focused on missing Native American people and organizing Missing in New Mexico, an annual event to connect families with law enforcement. In May 2022, the task force delivered a comprehensive plan outlining solutions that could be pursued at all levels of government.

The governor’s executive order expired in June 2022, but the Indian Affairs Department continued to support the task force until earlier this year. The task force’s future now depends on legislative action, as the members were under the impression that Governor Lujan Grisham would extend the executive order.

Advocates emphasize addressing the root causes of the crisis, saying they are concerned about the lack of political will and question whether sufficient funding and resources will be allocated to make meaningful changes.

The state response plan includes recommendations for mandatory law enforcement training on trauma-informed care and cultural sensitivity, funding for liaisons to assist families, financial support for affected families, improved data collection, and expanded access to housing, mental health care, and substance abuse treatment.

The dissolution of the task force has amplified concerns about a lack of political will to confront these critical issues. Advocates stress the urgency of addressing the problem to prevent it from persisting for future generations.

Leger Fernandez leads fight to push military abortions

Leaders of the U.S. House Democrat Women’s Caucus, including Lois Frankel (D-FL), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM), and Nikema Williams (D-GA), voiced their strong opposition to provisions that they claim would hinder access to military abortions.

The Democrat outrage comes in response to a Republican amended funding bill aimed at rescinding a Pentagon policy that reimburses travel for servicemembers facing difficulties accessing reproductive health care in their stationed states. The policy was crucial to avoiding a government shutdown last month.

In a joint statement, the Democrat leaders emphasized that reproductive health care is essential and should not be restricted in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference process.

Alabama U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican, has been a central figure in opposing military leadership appointments, which reportedly involve nearly 250 appointments.

Tuberville’s actions are linked to concerns about pushing abortions and the use of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives within the military.

The senator has expressed his intention to continue blocking the military leadership appointments.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has defended the abortion policy, claiming that it safeguards the healthcare and combat readiness of service members. He also stated that the policy enjoys widespread popularity within the military.

Lujan Grisham signs new executive order to revive eco-leftists’ green dream

Far-left Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she had issued an executive order Monday directing state agencies to transition to fully electric vehicle (EV) fleets within the next 12 years. Exceptions for heavy equipment and emergency vehicles were also announced at the Symposium on the Future of Transportation in New Mexico. Governor Lujan Grisham also expressed plans to request “robust” electric vehicle tax credits during the upcoming legislative session in January 2023. It is unclear what counts as “robust” to the governor. 

EV tax credits are likely a strategic move by the governor, who faced fury from the eco-leftists after she line-item vetoed tax credits from the legislative budget passed earlier this year.

“These were important but way too small,” Lujan Grisham said of the vetoed tax credits. “These benefits were so small, they don’t move the needle. Sometimes, when you get something, you don’t get a second bite at it.”

In response, the dark money eco-left group, the Sierra Club of the Rio Grande Chapter, posted, “@GovMLG are you truly saying that you vetoed the electric vehicle tax credit that we’ve all been working on for the last 15 years because it was too small? Those were thousands of EVs for low-income New Mexicans that now won’t have that benefit.”

Others charged the governor with “blowing smoke” with her “bull***t response.” 

The Western Environmental Law Center’s executive director Erik Schlenker-Goodrich tweeted, “Listening to @GovMLG at #POLITICOenergy attempt to explain (unpersuasively) why she vetoed sensible climate tax credits just confirms that her administration, after a promising 1st term, has no climate policy agenda in its 2nd term beyond a word salad.”

The proposed tax credits would be transferable and applicable to both new and used electric vehicles, aiming to make electric vehicles more accessible to middle- and low-income buyers. Governor Lujan Grisham emphasized that these credits should work at the point of sale, focusing on consumers to drive changes in the marketplace.

The proposed tax credits received support from legislative committee chairs Sen. Benny Shendo (D-Jemez Pueblo) and Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque), who emphasized their importance in moving the state towards a lower-carbon future. However, Larry Behrens, the Western states director of the pro-energy group Power the Future, criticized the tax credits, arguing that they primarily benefit the rich.

Regarding the executive order, Governor Lujan Grisham declared that by 2035, the state government fleet would be 100% electric, encouraging the use of zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles.

“In fiscal year 2022, state employees drove a whopping 16,650,964 miles in state vehicles, with only 36,077 of those being in the governor’s [electric vehicles] — less than one percent,” he wrote.

This electric vehicle initiative follows the governor’s plan announced in July, requiring vehicle manufacturers to provide an increasing number of electric models over the next decade. The Advanced Clean Cars and Advanced Trucks rule aims for at least 43% of all cars and 15% to 20% of all trucks sold in New Mexico to be electric models by 2026.

Larry Behrens criticized the governor’s push for electric vehicles, arguing that tax credits and spending on electric vehicles for state employees are attempts to force a product that New Mexicans don’t want. 

Governor Lujan Grisham acknowledged the need for more electric vehicle infrastructure in New Mexico but noted that the state still ranks among the top six nationally. She cited a New York Times article recommending Northern New Mexico for electric vehicle tourism, particularly the high road to Taos.

Defeated ex-Navajo Nation president Nez running for Congress as a Dem

Defeated former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has announced his candidacy to challenge Republican Representative Eli Crane for Arizona’s Second Congressional District. The Navajo Nation encompasses land in Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. Its capital is in Window Rock, Arizona.

Nez, a far-leftist, announced his candidacy via X, formerly Twitter.

He acknowledged issues such as the increasing costs of essential commodities like food, gas, and childcare, the escalating threat of wildfires, and the existence of healthcare deserts despite backing Joe Biden, who is responsible for skyrocketing inflation since taking office in 2021.

Nez, who has served as a Navajo County supervisor and held various roles in tribal government, cited the current political landscape in Washington, D.C., and specifically, what he referred to as the “craziness” within the “MAGA” faction of the Republican party, as a driving force behind his decision to enter the race.

Expressing his dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in Congress, Nez pointed out the challenges faced globally, including conflicts in Israel and Ukraine, while highlighting the apparent gridlock in the House of Representatives due to the absence of a Speaker.

Rep. Eli Crane was among the eight Republicans who aligned with Democrats in the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker.

Following redistricting, the Navajo Nation, previously part of the 1st Congressional District, became incorporated into the Second District. In the last election, three-term Representative Tom O’Halleran, who previously represented the 1st District, lost to Crane. 

Nez, having lost his bid for re-election as Navajo Nation president to Buu Nygren in 2022, is now turning his focus to the congressional race in Arizona’s Second District.

Dem NM legislators ask SCOTUS to allow sale of unsafe abortion pill

Democrat New Mexico state representatives and senators joined other Democrat pro-abortion legislators from across the country in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision restricting access to mifepristone—the first of two drugs used for abortions. This move is in response to the ongoing legal challenge led by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, aiming to roll back expanded access to the dangerous medication.

The amicus brief was organized by the State Innovation Exchange’s Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council, emphasizing the legislators’ commitment to protecting and supporting abortion. 

While proponents argue that mifepristone ensures safe and accessible abortions, critics, including the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, claim that the drug poses serious safety risks. The Alliance Defending Freedom, representing the plaintiffs, contends that the FDA unlawfully approved mifepristone in 2000 and alleges its association with numerous deaths—an assertion contradicted by credible sources.

The legal battle surrounding mifepristone intensified after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June 2022, which called for abortion regulations to be determined by individual states. Legislators supporting the amicus brief argue that this decision reinforces the need for state autonomy on abortion-related issues.

Two lawmakers, Senator Erin Maye Quade from Minnesota and Representative Julie von Haefen from North Carolina, are leading the effort. They claim the Court must uphold FDA authority over medication approval and ensure access to the dangerous drug.

Seven New Mexico legislators joined the amicus brief, including the following: 

  • Rep. Pamelya Herndon (D-Albuquerque)
  • Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Albuquerque)
  • Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena (D-Las Cruces)
  • Rep. Charlotte Little (D-Albuquerque)
  • Rep. Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe)
  • Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque)
  • Sen. Daniel A. Ivey-Soto (D-Albuquerque)

The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will hear the case.

Dems to bring back defeated small business-killing legislation

Supporters of the Family and Medical Leave Act are gearing up for another campaign in New Mexico, aiming to introduce legislation that would mandate paid family leave for workers in the state. While proponents, led by state Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), claim such a policy is essential for the well-being of employees, it’s a killer for small businesses that hire these employees.

A previous version of this bill died early this year during the 2023 Legislative Session, with Democrats and Republicans voting to kill the extreme legislation that would cripple small businesses.

The proposed legislation seeks to guarantee employees paid time off to address personal or family health issues, provide care for a newborn, or handle other family-related matters. Advocates claim that this initiative promotes work-life balance and supports families during critical times. However, critics argue that the policy, if implemented, could impose a significant burden on small businesses already grappling with economic challenges. Troubles for small businesses have only been exacerbated by increased inflation.

According to a report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), such mandates can strain small businesses, particularly those with limited resources. The NFIB contends that the financial burden of paid family leave may lead to increased operational costs, potentially forcing some small businesses to scale back operations or even close their doors.

In addition to concerns over financial implications, opponents argue that mandated paid family leave may disrupt business operations, especially for smaller companies with fewer employees. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, emphasizes that compliance with family leave mandates can be challenging for businesses with limited staffing, potentially resulting in decreased productivity and competitiveness.

While supporters emphasize the societal benefits of paid family leave, critics underscore the importance of considering the very real negative repercussions for small businesses.

Stansbury refuses to sign pro-Israel resolution amid Hamas terrorist attacks

Far-left U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury is reportedly the only member of New Mexico’s U.S. House delegation not signing a bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas’ actions in its vicious attack against Israel. The violent terrorist act has led to thousands killed and countless injured.

The bipartisan proposal co-sponsored by U.S. Reps Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) states that the U.S. House “stands with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists,” “reaffirms Israel’s right to self-defense,” and “condemns Hamas’ brutal war against Israel,” while calling on other countries to do the same.

According to reports, 13 U.S. House members are not signing the resolution, including New Mexico’s First Congressional District Rep. Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat.

Others refusing to stand by Israel — all Democrats — include Reps. Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, André Carson of Indiana, Al Green of Texas, Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Delia Ramirez of Illinois,
Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Although Stansbury wrote, “I stand with the people of Israel days after the attack on Israel,” it is unclear why she is refusing to sign the letter along with over 400 of her colleagues, Republicans and Democrats.

As of Monday, October 16, 2023, Stansbury was confirmed to have finally signed the resolution, according to Alex Ross of the Roswell Daily Record.

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