Politics

Ex-Rep. Torres Small, legislator husband in hot water over Hatch Act abuse claims

On Monday, the Republican Party of New Mexico announced that U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member James Comer found apparent violations of the Hatch Act by former U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), who now serves as Joe Biden’s Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The news came amid claims Torres Small fundraised for her husband, state Rep. Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), and other Democrats — a violation of the Hatch Act, which bans administration officials from engaging in partisan politics.

The release reads, “Comer says it appears Small may have broken the law by getting involved in political races. In particular, it’s believed Small may have used her influence to raise funds for [her] husband Nathan Small in the District 36 race. As Under Secretary, she cannot do this.”

“This could be a gross violation of federal law, a violation of public trust, and it’s crucial that Small be investigated. It would be inappropriate if she knowingly broke federal law and raised money for her spouse and other Democrats. If true, what Small is doing is not only wrong but exhibits blatant nepotism in a New Mexico election, and it’s shameful that Small would try to influence her husband’s race in this way.”

In a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Comer wrote, “Information obtained by Committee Republicans indicates she may be using her official position as Under Secretary to raise money for her husband’s reelection campaign this fall. If true, this raises questions about whether Under Secretary Small is using her government position to benefit her spouse’s political campaign and Democratic candidates for office.”

He then asked the OSC to open an investigation into Small, adding, “We request OSC begin an investigation to determine whether Under Secretary Small violated the Hatch Act by continuing to raise money for Shield PAC and possibly advocating for her spouse’s reelection campaign in her official capacity as an official at USDA. The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the principal oversight committee of the U.S. House of Representatives and has broad authority to investigate ‘any matter’ at ‘any time’ under House Rule X.”

New Mexico House GOP Leader Jim Townsend of Artesia called for state Rep. Small to return the improper contributions that violated the Hatch Act, writing, “Voter trust is so fragile at this moment, and I am hopeful that Rep. Small will expeditiously come clean to the public about his involvement in this potential illegal scheme.”

VA Gov. Youngkin to campaign Wednesday with Ronchetti in ABQ, Mesilla

On Monday, Republican gubernatorial nominee Mark Ronchetti’s campaign announced that Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) will campaign with him in Albuquerque and Las Cruces, being the third GOP governor to campaign for him after Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Doug Ducey of Arizona.

According to a media advisory from the Ronchetti campaign, “Similar to Ronchetti, Youngkin’s [2021] campaign focused on kitchen-table issues that affect everyday Virginians.”

“At these campaign stops, Ronchetti and Youngkin will highlight the need to restore New Mexico’s public safety, catch kids up in the classroom, and provide sustained economic relief for the working families of New Mexico.”

The Albuquerque campaign stop will be at 2:00 p.m. at Napoli Coffee on Menaul. The Las Cruces campaign stop will be at 5:15 p.m. at La Posta De Mesilla, on Calle De San Albino in Mesilla. 

Youngkin is supporting many conservative candidates, such as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Trump-backed GOP gubernatorial nominees Kari Lake of Arizona, Tudor Dixon of Michigan, and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo of Nevada, to name a few. 

The news comes the same day that former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who previously ran for president as the Libertarian nominee, endorsed Ronchetti, saying, “I’m voting for Mark Ronchetti to be the next governor of New Mexico. I think crime, education, and the economy will benefit from a fresh look at the issues New Mexico faces. I think the fact that, arguably, New Mexico had the most restrictive pandemic shutdown of all 50 states will adversely affect our economy for many years to come.” 

Ronchetti faces embattled Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and former GOP candidate-turned Libertarian nominee Karen Bedonie in November. 

Santa Fe’s The Bull Ring restaurant sold due to Dems’ anti-business liquor law, MLG lockdowns

After owning the famed Santa Fe restaurant, The Bull Ring, for 41 years, its owner, Harry Georgeades sold the establishment to a local business group headed by Santa Fe restauranteur Clint Singley, citing the Legislature’s law that “devalued” its liquor license.

The changing of ownership is ironic since The Bull Ring is a hotspot for legislators and lobbyists during the legislative session, where many deals are made and where the wheels of the Roundhouse turn. 

But Georgeades had enough when Democrats passed their bill that lowered the cost of liquor licenses and harmed those who already had licenses. The same bad law also banned miniature bottles of alcohol, which now force people to buy more expensive larger bottles. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas.

During the process of the anti-business bill’s consideration, New Mexico Packaged Liquor Association’s Mark Rhodes said, “I had clients during the session that were explaining to me that some people that have drinking problems will buy a mini to get through the morning or the afternoon or the day.” He added, “If they’re forced to buy larger quantities, which is what’s going to happen, they’ll buy more liquor. They’ll buy a half pints or even larger.”

The law, which was signed by Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, “reduced the cost of a liquor license to the range of about $1,550 to $10,000 rather than anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000,” according to the Santa Fe New Mexican

Now with The Bull Ring changing hands, Georgeades told the New Mexican, “When the Legislature changed the liquor rules, it just took a toll on me.” He continued, “Our liquor license was devalued. That’s the major thing.”

Also, Georgeades blames the Governor’s pandemic lockdowns for him calling it quits. 

“There’s also this: Like all restaurants, the pandemic did a number on The Bull Ring. What was a lunch-and-dinner steak joint open to 10 p.m. is now open 4 to 8 p.m. (and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday), serving dinner only. Worker shortages are in play, too. For Georgeades, 40 years finally was enough,” the report noted. 

According to the New Mexico Restaurant Association, 18 percent, or 1,100 restaurants, closed for good under Lujan Grisham’s lockdowns. The Bull Ring is one of the lucky ones to only be sold to another owner, not closed down.

Dems float more taxes for next legislative session, if they hold majority

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Democrats are already floating passing more taxes in the upcoming legislative session, hoping legislators will rally around hiking taxes on alcohol. 

“Everyone needs to understand the landscape before we have a serious conversation about how it should be changed,” said Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee Chair Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos).

The state currently taxes 7 cents per drink for wine and spirits and 4 cents a drink for beer, which Democrats want to jack up if they retain a Democrat majority and have Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as governor.

Democrat Rep. Moe Maestas (D-Bernalillo) wants to hike the taxes by making them be based on the alcohol’s sale price instead of taxing alcohol by the volume sold. “This would keep pace with inflation and pass the cost directly to consumers,” wrote the New Mexican.

Other proposals to raise taxes are like those of Washington, D.C. on cigarettes, where the existing rates will be raised to follow inflation. 

David Jernigan, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health, suggests taxing New Mexicans for “billions of dollars in costs attributable to excessive drinking including lost productivity, health care and government services.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this could mean an average tax of $3.71 for a drink of alcohol.

With these radical pro-tax proposals, there have been no meaningful conversations on how to cut government spending. Most Democrat conversations point to merely spending more while taxing more, including with the sales of marijuana and other substances recently legalized by the Democrat legislature. 

Afghan refugee accused of sexually assaulting 12-year-old Las Cruces boy

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Shah Mahmood Selab, an Afghan national brought to the United States after Joe Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal, has been charged with violently attacking and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old Las Cruces boy in a park.

The DOJ writes that “[O]n Aug. 12, Selab allegedly approached a 12-year-old boy at Youngs Park in Las Cruces near a local middle school. The victim was sitting on a bench when Selab began asking the victim personal questions, and then invited the victim to sit with him on another bench in the shade. After moving to the other bench, Selab allegedly used his cellphone to show the victim photos and videos that were sexual in nature. Selab allegedly touched the victim inappropriately.” 

“The victim attempted to walk away, but Selab allegedly followed him and punched him in the face multiple times. Selab allegedly asked the victim to get into his vehicle and offered the victim $20 to allow Selab to touch him.”

The release continues, “The victim attempted to call 911 and retreated to the restrooms where he closed himself in a stall. The complaint alleges that Selab followed the victim into the restrooms and pulled him from the stall. Selab allegedly locked the restroom door to prevent the victim from leaving, began kissing the victim’s face, and put a $20 bill in the victim’s hand. Selab also allegedly attempted to force the victim to touch Selab.”

After another person arrived at the restroom, the victim escaped from Selab. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed the alleged assailant was one of the Afghan refugees evacuated from the country to the U.S. by Joe Biden: 

Fox News Digital learned this week that Selab was paroled into the United States in November 2021. The office of Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., later confirmed to Fox that he was paroled and that law enforcement had verified that he was an Afghan national who was paroled in through Operation Allies Welcome. 

“This is a terrible crime, enabled by the complete lack of vetting and transparency in the wake of Joe Biden’s Afghanistan retreat,” [Congresswoman Yvette] Herrell (NM-CD-2) said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Our government should be protecting the families of New Mexico, not importing twisted individuals who prey on children. That is why last year I pushed for thorough vetting of migrants that the Biden administration has brought to our communities, and why I continue to fight for accountability.” [Emphasis added]

In a statement to Fox News Digital on Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said Selab was paroled into the U.S. on Nov. 18, 2021 at Philadelphia International Airport. ICE has now lodged a detainer on Selab, who the agency confirmed was a 35-year-old Afghan national, after his arrest. 

If convicted, Selab faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison, according to the DOJ.

Ronchetti clobbers Lujan Grisham in first TV debate

On Friday night, Republican GOP nominee Mark Ronchetti and Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appeared on KOB 4 for the first gubernatorial debate between the two in the tight race rated a “toss-up.” This has been rated as one of the best GOP gubernatorial pickup opportunities across the country. The debate was moderated by Tessa Mentus and Matt Grubbs.

Ronchetti went straight for the jugular in his opening statement, saying, “This governor has been letting out violent criminals.” He said, “If you think the system is broken, she is the head of the system.” 

Regarding education, Ronchetti said, “If you think the education system is broken, this governor is the head of that system.”

“The fact is her 30 years of government experience has her right where we are.”

Lujan Grisham, in her opening statement, said, “We’ve actually come a long way in four years,” adding, “progress is not promised.”

She then, of course, mentioned her favorite topic — abortion. She falsely claimed, “My opponent wants to ban abortion,” despite Ronchetti backing only a 15-week ban.

Regarding crime, Lujan Grisham blamed national rises in crime. She said, “Crime is on the rise nationally. It’s no secret it’s a problem right here in New Mexico.” 

Ronchetti said, “Over the past two years, she’s released over 700” violent criminals.

She said in response, “All words for someone who has never been to a legislative session.” then She claimed Ronchetti had never heard of “bail reform” before running for governor.

Ronchetti said, “She’s made it easier to be a criminal than a cop.” 

Abortion was the next topic of discussion. 

Ronchetti said, “My opinion on this and my beliefs on this have never changed: I’m pro-life.” He added, “We need to end late-term abortion in this state.”

Lujan Grisham said, “Abortions later in pregnancy are extreme medical emergencies.”

“It’s very clear in this particular conversation,” Ronchetti said, “the governor was okay when we brought pay raises to the Legislature to the voters.” 

Lujan Grisham shot back, claiming it was “outrageous” Ronchetti wanted a state constitutional amendment on abortion.

Ronchetti responded, “When she shut down schools, did you have a voice in that? No.” He continued, “When she went and released violent criminals back onto the streets, did you have a voice in that? No.”

On the topic of inflation, Lujan Grisham claimed, “Inflation isn’t something a governor can control.” She also touted piecemeal tax cuts passed in this year’s legislative session (election year). 

During the budget discussion, Ronchetti said, “We need to invest in small businesses in New Mexico. They are getting crushed,” saying he supports a tax cut, citing the 40% killed under the Lujan Grisham regime during the pandemic.

“You are out of touch with the people of your own state,” Ronchetti told the governor.

Trying to defend her failed education record, especially during the pandemic, Lujan Grisham claimed, “My opponent wants to pretend that there wasn’t a deadly global pandemic,” 

Speaking about the New Mexico Child, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD), Ronchetti said he would “have a separate unit” to oversee the department. He also spoke of the Governor’s “cover-up” with the Department. “We can [fix the department] if we don’t engage in cover-ups.” 

Lujan Grisham said she takes every case at CYFD “personally” and claimed it was false that he referenced a cover-up, despite one happening at CYFD under her watch.

“I know you take it personally, and I have no doubt that you do. I just don’t think you take responsibility,” Ronchetti responded. 

On the topic of homelessness, Ronchetti said, “New Mexico cannot be allowed to be the country’s campground.” He backed a statewide ban on tent cities and said we need to stop the problem at its source — the border.

Lujan Grisham said that “housing, mental illness, and drug addiction” lead to homelessness. She then claimed at the next legislative session, she would look at a ban on pan handling. 

On the water issue, Mark Ronchetti said, “there is nothing more important than water in the state of New Mexico.”

“My opponent doesn’t believe in climate change,” said Lujan Grisham, appearing to dodge the question. She also said, “He doesn’t support the Inflation Reduction Act,” a bill that increased inflation and added to the national debt. 

She touted her anti-gas policies, saying oil and gas is “not allowed to use fresh water anymore” thanks to her leftist legislation.

Ronchetti said in his closing statement, “We have to support change” to make a difference in New Mexico. 

Lujan Grisham said in her closing statement, “I think New Mexicans want an experienced, proven leader.” She touted her socialist education and pre-K programs and, of course, mentioned abortion. She said she wants to ensure “access to reproductive access (abortion) is not fettered.”

The debate had a clear winner: Republican Mark Ronchetti, who had a detailed plan on turning the state around while also focusing on kitchen table issues. Lujan Grisham appeared very defensive and hell-bent on swerving many topics to that of abortion while blaming national politics for her failures in office.

Leftist columnist rips Dems’ fake outrage over threats to ‘democracy’

Leftist columnist Walt Rubel recently ripped Democrats a new one over their gerrymandering and their false outrage against Republicans.

Rubel wrote for the NPR affiliate KRWG Public Media, “Two years ago, money poured into the district, as anybody with a TV or mailbox knows. The contest between first-term incumbent Democrat Xochitl Torres Small and Republican challenger Yvette Herrell was the most expensive in the nation, with a combined $37.3 million in campaign spending; $24.3 million coming from outside groups.”

He added: 

After Herrell’s win, Democrats in D.C. moved on. We’re apparently no longer on Emily’s list. This year, Democratic candidate Gabe Vasquez is behind on fundraising, running against the Republican incumbent.

The Democratic National Committee doesn’t have funding to help new, young candidates like Vasquez, but does have money to bolster the most dangerous, radical Republican candidates running in primary elections. 

Democrats have spent some $44 million this primary season to benefit Republican candidates in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Maryland, according to reporting from the group Open Source. They are attempting to eliminate moderate Republican candidates in the primary on the theory that the extremists will be easier to beat in the general election.

He then ripped into Democrats over them playing in primaries over these so-called “extremist” (mainstream) Republicans.

He wrote, “There’s going to be a lot of hyperbolic talk from the left between now and November claiming that Republican candidates are an existential threat to democracy. Don’t believe it. If Democrats really thought that, they would be doing everything they could to defeat those candidates at every step along the way, not support them.”

Rubel called out the Democrats over their fake outrage. Will they listen?

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Of ‘Lean D’ gov’s races, GOP ‘most excited’ about NM

On Wednesday, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a project of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, made two race rating changes, both changing gubernatorial races in Michigan and Pennsylvania from “Leans Democratic” to “Likely Democratic.”

However, it kept New Mexico’s “Leans Democratic” rating. But as the Crystal Ball noted, of all the Leans D races, New Mexico Republicans’ race to take out Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appears to be the most exciting.

It wrote regarding the three remaining Leans D races, “Of this trio, Republicans have seemed most excited about New Mexico, although Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) has consistently led 2020 Senate nominee Mark Ronchetti (R) in polling. Govs. Tim Walz (D-MN) and Janet Mills (D-ME) have led their rivals, too.”

All but one recent poll have consistently rated the race within single digits of Lujan Grisham, with the most recent The Hill/Emerson poll showing Ronchetti with 43 percent to the Governor’s 48 percent with a margin of error of three percentage points — a near statistical tie. Five percent of voters remain undecided. Three percent are voting for another candidate (Libertarian Karen Bedonie, who was formerly a Republican before switching parties).

Far-left organizations and labor unions have thrown their support behind Lujan Grisham, while the New Mexico Fraternal Order of Police, Albuquerque Police Officers Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and public safety groups have backed Ronchetti. 

In New Mexico, crime is a major issue, as is the border, with one of the largest drug busts happening in Albuquerque this month. The city recently hit its 100th homicide, on track to exceed 2021’s most deadly year of 117 killings. The federal government has reported over two million illegal immigrant apprehensions on the border within the year alone. 
Ronchetti will debate Lujan Grisham on KOB 4 on Friday, September 30. The debate will be one hour starting at 7:00 p.m.

Dems forced to discount tickets to fundraiser honoring cop hater Gabe Vasquez

In an embarrassing turn, the Democrat Party of New Mexico (DPNM) are now being forced to heavily discount tickets to their 2022 “Rising Star” awards event happening Saturday. DPNM is slashing prices for general admission tickets from $100 each to $50.

The dinner will honor far-left cop hater Gabe Vasquez, the Democrats’ nominee for the Second Congressional District in southern New Mexico. 

In the original invite from September 3, the Democrats wrote, “Don’t miss your opportunity to meet Gabe, the all-woman Las Cruces City Council, and special guest – Jessica Cisneros, Immigration and Civil Rights attorney who catapulted to progressive prominence for running an inspirational congressional campaign in Texas earlier in 2022.” 

Cisneros is the socialist who failed twice in a run for Congress against more moderate Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX). Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the far-left “Justice Democrats,” and others recruited and endorsed her two failed runs for the seat. Despite that, she is being lauded by DPNM as a “stupendous ‘rising star’ in her own right.”

The dinner will also feature “performances by ballet dancer Than Povi, Latin Pop musician Buddy Abeyta, Jazz musician Tracey Whitney, Zia Queens breakdance crew, and the Atrisco Heritage High School Mariachi Group.”

Previous honorees include one-term Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who lost reelection in the Second District, to Republican Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, who Vasquez is now running against. 

With prices being heavily slashed, it appears the Democrats are having trouble funding the event with willing participants, with the Party stressing that “Rising Star is how we are able to fund our most important Democratic initiatives and support our candidates throughout the year.”

More heartbreaking stats reveal big issues with CYFD: LFC report

New Mexico’s Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) has been heavily scrutinized for the constant failures in the Department to protect children overseen and in the care of the state.

With no oversight mechanisms in place at CYFD, many children have tragically died or been harmed while in the system. 

A Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) release recently reported by the Albuquerque Journal shows more damning information about CYFD’s failures.

The Journal writes, “More than 40% of children in New Mexico who had a substantiated serious injury from physical abuse or neglect in fiscal year 2022 came from families who had a prior involvement with the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department in the preceding 12 months, according to new state data.”

The LFC report notes that CYFD “continues to underperform on targets for repeat maltreatment, maltreatment of foster care children, and serious injuries after protective services involvement.”

“New Mexico’s rates for repeat maltreatment are among the worst in the nation,” it continues.

Kicking the can down the road and attempting to remain blameless, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s CYFD Secretary Barbara Vigil said of the report, “Our underperformance is a condition of systemic challenges that have manifested over many years.”

The LFC added in the report, “Prevention and early intervention is key to reducing repeat child maltreatment.”

One of the assessments from CYFD’s release noted, “A recent CYFD workforce development plan and survey noted that protective services staff ranked workload, self-care, and compensation as the most pressing challenges facing staff. Another highly ranked challenge was related to organizational factors with many respondents feeling that rules, policies, and procedures are not interpreted and applied consistently.” 

It is unclear in upcoming legislative sessions if there will be meaningful reform made to CYFD. Previous oversight measures carried by Republicans and passed by wide margins have repeatedly failed to pass — leaving children at continued risk due to heavy staff workload, lack of accountability and performance metrics of the department set far too low.

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