New Mexico

Governor’s sexual abuse accuser’s sister says he is dead

According to multiple sources, Phoenix-based consultant James Hallinan, a conservative Democrat, passed away on Thursday.

Hallinan made headlines in New Mexico after he claimed that in 2018 then-U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is now governor, poured water over his crotch area and groped him in front of multiple witnesses.

Lujan Grisham’s campaign subsequently paid Hallinan $150,000 after the allegations surfaced ahead of her 2022 reelection campaign.

Political blogger Joe Monahan posted on Twitter Friday, “NM political consultant James Hallinan is dead at 40.” A quote from his sister Marisa read, “With much sadness we share that our beloved and brilliant brother and son James Hallinan died on Thursday. At this time of deep sadness we thank you for your conveyed sentiments and support.” 

Monahan noted, “No cause given” regarding his cause of death.

“In lieu of a formal ceremony, we ask that those who knew him spend time celebrating his life in a way that honors the joyous times you spent with him,” Hallinan’s sister wrote.

Brett Kokinadis, a former Republican Party of Santa Fe County officer, wrote on Twitter, “Waiting for confirmation, but James Hallinan is rumored to be deceased. Did you have anything to do with it Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham? I sure hope not!”

Albuquerque City Council candidate Dr. Joseph Pitluck Aguirre wrote in response to one of Hallinan’s tweets mourning the death of Eric Witt, a former Lujan Grisham official, “Rest in peace James.”

The post from Hallinan made on July 17, 2023, was his last post to the network.

Before that, the former Lujan Grisham staffer wrote on Twitter, “The level of corruption and abuse is at an all-time high in New Mexico. I’m still shocked, but I guess I shouldn’t be at this point.”

Hallinan previously had death threats made against him, as reported in October 2022. 

At the time, Hallinan said, “I just need to make sure we’re documenting some of these death threats, ’cause I say it, and everybody, it’s like nobody is paying attention. I don’t know who this lady is, but I got all the screenshots,” referencing a threat from someone named “Angel” on social media.

He told the Santa Fe New Mexican, “I’m tired,” he said Thursday. “I’m tired of the continued death threats on social media and everybody trying to muscle me. I’m real tired of it. They’ve pushed me too far.”

As more details come out, the Piñon Post will keep our readers up to date on the latest from the situation. 

After razor-thin 2022 loss, GOP state House candidate files for rematch

Retired teacher Elizabeth Winterrowd, a Republican, lost by a razor-thin margin of 133 votes in 2022’s election for New Mexico House District 53, located in Doña Ana and Otero Counties, against Democrat Rep. Willie Madrid.

She is looking to reclaim the seat for the GOP that Rep. Ricky Little formerly held before Madrid’s election in 2018.

Winterrowd’s campaign wrote in a press release, “Elizabeth has personally experienced the struggle of educating students as well as the failure of CYFD to protect New Mexican children as the mother of four grown children including one adopted through the New Mexico foster system and in her role as a special education teacher and teacher of gifted students for 17 years.”

“Parents now face a new blockade in raising their own children because of the extreme agenda carried out by Santa Fe politicians. A new law passed this session will now allow children to get life-changing, potentially endangering abortion or transgender procedures without parental knowledge or consent. Even further, those politicians are threatening schools with fines for ‘interfering.’”

The campaign contends that Madrid wasn’t present for “several critical votes.” It notes bills about free cultural programs for foster families and legislation providing funding for rural broadband.

“Since Willie Madrid has been in office, Southwest New Mexico families have been overlooked and ignored by Santa Fe politicians. At some point we have to ask ourselves, where is the guy who is supposed to represent us? Why doesn’t he speak up?” Winterrowd said. “Experience doesn’t count unless you put it to work for the people who are counting on you. I have the experience. I’m willing to put in the work. I am ready to fight for the interests of OUR district and put families first as your State Representative.”

The 53rd District, despite being redrawn in 2022 to favor Democrats, has remained competitive, as evidenced by Winterrowd’s strong performance last November. In 2020, Madrid held his seat by only 38 votes, and in 2018, a terrible year for Republicans, Madrid won the seat by 291.

To learn more about Winterrowd, visit

Vasquez bankrolled by abortion up-to-birth lobby in latest fundraising haul

Far-left Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM-02) is trying to keep his seat in Congress, despite fierce competition from GOP former Rep. Yvette Herrell, who he narrowly beat in 2022. 

Partnered up with extremist groups, he hopes to raise enough money to fend off the challenge from the GOP’s standard bearer.

In the last fundraising quarter spanning April through June, Vasquez raised $439,254.61 and spent $165,024.07.

He received large contributions from the pro-abortion lobby, with groups such as NARAL, the abortion up-to-birth group, pitching in $2,500. 

The pro-abortion medical group, the American College of OB-GYNs PAC (OB-GYN PAC), donated $1,000, while relative to the University of New Mexico’s abortion trainer, Dr. Eve L. Espey, wrote big checks. Dr. David K. Espey donated $1,000 on April 26, 2023.

Other contributions included $5,000 from the pro-lockdown, pro-forced mask American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education, $2,500 from the group pushing transgenderism on kids, the Human Rights Campaign, $2,832.34 from the extremist “climate groups the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and the NRDC Action Fund Inc. PAC with a $960.47 donation, as well as $500 from the socialist-linked group Retake Our Democracy.

He also got help from far-left colleagues’ campaign accounts, with Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) chipping in$2,000, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) donating $1,000, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) offering $1,000, Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) giving $1,000, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) putting $1,000, and Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) throwing in $500.

The New Mexico House Victory Fund 2022, which was a joint committee helping New Mexico’s three far-left Democrat U.S. representatives, gave $19,964.79 to Vasquez’s reelection efforts during the fundraising period.

Vasquez spent $43,632.61 at a company called Foglamp, which is a Democrat digital strategy firm that has been used by the likes of Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the anti-gun group March for Our Lives.

He also spent handsomely on fundraising services from a Virginia-based group, LaFave and Associates. Another large expense for Vasquez’s campaign was catering, meals, and travel, which totaled $22,032.89 during the three-month period.

Expenses included multiple trips to the Monocle restaurant adjacent to the U.S. Senate office building, with bills totaling p $1,002.5 and $827.80.

Former Congresswoman Herrell raised $355,911.46 during the same timeframe, spending $70,186.92.

NM Dems fundraise off of summer temps, blame ‘MAGA extremists’

On Wednesday, the Democratic Party of New Mexico (DPNM) sent out a fundraising ask, requesting donations because of summer temperatures in New Mexico, claiming “climate change” is the cause.

“Yesterday, New Mexicans endured what was the hottest day of the year– at least so far. Globally, the earth is experiencing its hottest year on record indicating that climate change is showing no signs of slowing down. Increased temperatures are also straining states’ power grids, resulting in heat-related injuries and deaths across the nation,” it wrote.

“Republicans everywhere are pushing for the ‘depoliticization’ of climate, even going so far as to claiming that scientists are being paid to make false claims or coming up with their own bogus science to ‘disprove’ the consensus,” the email continued.

“Time and time again, we’re only seeing Democrats step up to the plate to protect the climate. If we’re going to have any real chance of curbing climate change and protecting earth’s species and delicate ecosystems, we need to continue electing climate champions who will be proactive in advocating for pro-climate policies that will save our planet.”

It is unclear exactly what specifically via their anti-energy policies would “save our planet,” but paying higher taxes and forcing New Mexicans to adopt unreliable energy sources, such as solar and wind, are not proven to drop Earth’s temperature by a single degree.

Furthermore, the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth happened over 100 years ago, when oil, gas, coal, and other fossil fuels were hardly used at their current capacity, brought forth by new technologies. 

But the Democrats wrote to their subscribers in an attempt to solicit donations, “Can you chip in to continue electing Democrats who will fight against climate change, as opposed to climate-denying, MAGA extremist GOP politicians who don’t take it seriously?” 

New Mexico Democrat politicians have also been making these melodramatic clarion calls, claiming because summer is hot that, “climate change” is just shy of roasting people alive.  

Far-left U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich bemoaned, “We are all paying the price of Republican inaction on climate change.”

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, another far-leftist, wrote, “This summer is a scorcher! Friendly reminder that climate change is real and we are feeling the effects of global warming in REAL TIME. When @theestallion mentioned ‘hot girl summer,’ I don’t think this is what she meant,” referencing a song.

Despite the rhetoric, back in 1913, temperatures peaked, leaving Democrats defenseless against cold, hard facts that disprove their “climate change” hysteria. 

Few details released following death of Gov. Lujan Grisham staffer

On Monday, it was revealed that a senior advisor to Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Eric Witt, 60, was found dead in his garage.

Witt, who helped develop the state’s generous tax incentives to the film industry and was previously based in Los Angeles, served in the governor’s staff since January. 

He also worked for Democrat former Gov. Bill Richardson in multiple roles between 2003 and 2010.

Few details are known about the staffer’s death, but the Albuquerque Journal reported, “Santa Fe police said Witt was found dead in his garage Monday morning after his wife, who was out of town and had last spoken to him on Friday, requested a welfare check. Police said there were no apparent signs of trauma.”

Eric Witt in 2019. Screenshot from NM PBS via YouTube

Former Gov. Richardson wrote in a statement following the news, “I am shocked and saddened beyond belief at the passing of Eric Witt, a dear friend and former staffer. He came from a wonderful family, especially his mother, Lee Witt, who worked for many governors, including myself.” He added, “If there was one person responsible for bringing the movie industry to New Mexico, it was Eric. My wife Barbara and myself express our deepest condolences to the Witt family.”

Lujan Grisham also bemoaned Witt’s death, writing, ­“I am shocked and saddened by the passing of Eric Witt, a longtime colleague and senior advisor in my office. He was a skilled navigator of state government and the Legislature and, most consequentially, offered his specialty in film financing to establish a brand-new economic driver in the state. Without Eric’s leadership, New Mexico’s booming film and media industry would not be the success that it is today.”

According to a press release from her office: 

For more than 30 years, Witt balanced the demands of a career in the film industry and public service. He started his career working for Dino De Laurentiis Communications in Los Angeles. Witt’s political work in New Mexico began in 1998 when he was the Chief of Staff for the state’s House of Representatives and continued as part of leadership in Gov. Bill Richardson’s office.

When Gov. Richardson left office in 2011, he returned to Los Angeles to focus on film and television production. Witt’s passion for service and creativity merged when he was named executive director of the Santa Fe Film Office in 2016. Witt was awarded an Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts for his work on “However Wide the Sky: Places of Power” in 2022.

In a statement issued by Witt’s family Tuesday, they said they are “heartbroken over Eric’s death. He was an amazing man of so many talents, interests and loves. But what he loved above all else was his family — his wife, mother, father, brothers, sister, sisters-in-law, son and nephews. The support and messages that we have gotten from people in New Mexico, California and beyond show just how many lives he touched and we are grateful for all of them.”

According to Lujan Grisham’s office, between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, New Mexico’s film industry brought in $794 million in direct spending. That figure is down 7.2 percent from last year’s $855.4 million.

Services for fallen Alamogordo Police Officer Anthony Ferguson announced

The City of Alamogordo announced services for fallen Alamogordo Police Officer Anthony Ferguson, who was fatally shot Saturday by a suspect who had previously brandished a gun at law enforcement.

On Wednesday, the community will gather for a candlelight vigil at 6:30 at Alamogordo High School’s gym, known as the Tiger Pit.

Then, on Thursday at 2:00 p.m., funeral services for Officer Ferguson will be held at the Tays Events Center at New Mexico State University-Alamogoro, located at 2400 N Scenic Drive.

“Please be advised that there will be limited parking available at the Tays Special Events Center parking lot for the tribute service for  Officer Ferguson. Overflow parking can be used at the NMSU-A  campus across from the Tays Special Events Center,” wrote the City.

Officer Ferguson via the Alamogordo Police Department.

“For those unable to attend the service in person, the funeral will be live streamed by the KRQE news station. This will allow you to participate and join us in honoring Officer Ferguson remotely. We are grateful for the support and unity of our community, near and far.”

Condolences flooded in from across the state, with local leaders, pastors, lawmakers, and others showing unity with Alamogordo as it mourns the tragic killing of Officer Ferguson. 

Legislative committee previewing anti-gun bills Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Legislative Courts, Corrections, and Justice Committee, chaired by Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces), will preview anti-gun bills that will be reintroduced in the 2024 Legislative Session, along with new proposals that could be brought forth.

Starting at 8:35 a.m., the committee, which is meeting in Mescalero at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, will have a two-hour discussion on the 2022 New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen U.S. Supreme Court case, which struck down anti-gun laws in the Empire State.

Then, the Committee will discuss proposed anti-gun laws, including banning what they deem “assault weapons,” mandating new higher age restrictions for firearm purchases, imposing waiting periods, increasing background check requirements, attacking gun manufacturers for gun-related incidents, and more.

Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grsham’s staff will attend to discuss her gun-grabbing bills plans.

The meeting will not include a slot for public comment, and the Committee’s chairman explicitly noted that he did not invite pro-gun advocates, such as the National Rife Association or Gun Owners of America. However, the anti-gun group, the Giffords Law Center, will be prominently featured.

Pro-gun legislators, including Reps. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park) and John Block (R-Alamogordo) will be in attendance, as well as other pro-gun committee members.

To access the Committee’s agenda, click here. To join the webcast, click here

Alamogordo officer succumbs to his injuries after Saturday shooting

Late Sunday, it was revealed that Alamogordo Police Department Officer Anthony Ferguson, 41, an eleven-year veteran of the force, had succumbed to his injuries after being shot by a wanted criminal who shot him in the face with a sawed-off shotgun.

The Alamogordo Police Department wrote, “Officer Ferguson was serving in the Patrol Division as a Field Training Officer. He is survived by his mother, father, four brothers, his daughter, and son. He was loved and admired by the citizens of Alamogordo and Officers alike. We would ask for the family’s privacy to be respected at this time.”

The perpetrator, Dominic De La O, is being held at the Otero County Detention Center and charged with attempt to commit first-degree murder, aggravated battery on a police officer with a deadly weapon, tampering with evidence, aggravated fleeing, resisting and evading, criminal trespass, lights required on a vehicle, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, and reckless driving.

De La O was previously arrested in January after brandishing a gun on a police officer but was allowed pretrial release under the state’s failed laws that have removed cash bail — allowing violent offenders back on the streets.

He violated his pretrial release Wednesday by attending a party where a warrant was issued for his arrest. The perpetrator was stopped on Saturday during a routine traffic stop where he pulled the gun, which was obtained illegally, on Officer Ferguson, causing the fatal injury to the esteemed law enforcement officer. Officer Ferguson was transported to Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center and later flown to the Univeristy Medical Center of El Paso, where he passed away.

According to New Mexico State Police, “New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau agents are working to independently determine the series of events leading to the shooting, including collecting evidence and conducting interviews. Throughout the process, investigative findings will be shared with the district attorney for their review and consideration.”

Officer Ferguson is the first Alamogordo Police Department officer killed in the line of duty since Clint Corvinus in 2016. Officer Ferguson was nominated for Officer of the Year in 2019 and has honorably served Alamogordo throughout the years. 

Heinrich spent over $21K in donor cash on ‘security upgrades’ at his ‘residence’

According to Martin Heinrich’s report submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from April 1 through June 30, he raised $1,492,673.01 while spending $579,141.56. 

Large contributions include $6,600 from San-Francisco-based Meritage Group LP, $5,000 from Facebook Inc. PAC, $6,000 from Google’s PAC, $3,300 from marijuana company PurLife’s CEO Darren White, $4,000 from retired U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s campaign committee, among tens of thousands from the eco-left energy sector such as The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and Environment America Inc. Voter Action. 

His largest expenditures for the fundraising period went to the fundraising firm “Authentic Campaigns,” which received at least $119,500. Other large recipients include the fundraising firm Fulkerson, Kennedy, and Company ($144,461.29) and FDM Connects LLC fundraising consulting company ($57,924.3).

Heinrich also hired Adam Schiff aide Brad Elkins, paying the far-left staffer who previously worked for the abortion up-to-birth group EMILY’s List $28,517. He paid far-left Democrat Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez’s fundraiser Kyra Ellis-Moore $19,528.88. 

An interesting tidbit from Heinrich’s previous report is that he spent $13,804.25 on “security upgrades at the residence” through “Jillian Homes Realty” on January 13, 2023, and spent $7,374.15 at the Arizona-based Safe Haven Defense LLC for the same purpose on January 30, 2023.

During the fundraising period ending in June, Heinrich spent $17,305.29 on mileage, meals, and travel, spending big at places such as the Albuquerque Hilton Garden Inn, San Francisco Grand Hyatt, Chicago AC Marriott, Bellevue, and Washington’s Hyatt Regency, among other expenditures. 

He spent $4,652.78 during the period on legal fees, $7,000 on polling from Public Policy Polling, and $13,413.63 on videography and photography.

Alamogordo officer shot by violent thug: NM’s flawed pretrial release law in action

In 2016, the voters of New Mexico passed a constitutional amendment removing cash bail and instituting pretrial release, which has since let violent thugs back on the streets to wreak havoc on the state’s communities.

Albuquerque’s crime-plagued streets are often mentioned as examples of how this far-left policy has failed the state, but it is now permeating even further into smaller communities — this time in Alamogordo.

“State Police agents learned that on July 15, at around 2:30 a.m., an APD officer initiated a traffic stop on a Honda passenger vehicle driven by Dominic De La O, 26, of Alamogordo for driving with no headlights or taillights. De La O fled from the officer and crashed into a light pole at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and 1st Street. De La O fled the crash scene on foot and a foot pursuit ensued,” according to State Police.

“At some point during the foot pursuit De La O presented a concealed sawed-off shotgun and fired it toward one of the APD officers, striking him in the face. A second APD officer fired his duty weapon at least once towards De La O striking him in the leg. De La O continued to flee on foot, and after a physical confrontation with officers at a residence on the 100 block of Delaware, De La O was taken into custody. De La O was treated and released from the hospital and taken into custody by the New Mexico State Police.”

Mugshot of Dominic De La O via New Mexico State Police.

De La O was previously sprung from jail awaiting trial from January 2023 charges. 

“In late January, De La O was shot twice in the back by Alamogordo police when he pulled a handgun during a scuffle with officers, according to court records. De La O was facing one felony drug charge and several misdemeanors in that case and was awaiting trial,” the Albuquerque Journal reported. “Court records show a warrant was issued for De La O’s arrest on Wednesday after he violated his conditions of pretrial release by being at a party where a shooting occurred.” 

De La O is being charged with the following:

  • Attempt to Commit 1stDegree Murder
  • Aggravated Battery on a Police Officer with a Deadly weapon
  • Tampering with Evidence
  • Aggravated Fleeing of a Police Officer
  • Resisting and Evading a Police Officer
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Lights Required on Vehicle
  • Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle
  • Reckless Driving

The officer was rushed to El Paso and remains in critical condition following surgery. 

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