Saturday, October 4, 2008
On Saturday morning, I was up early, and out at the hot air balloon field in Albuquerque, for the start of the 37th Annual International Balloon Fiesta. There are 621 pilots registered this year.
ABC Radio hired me to file this report.
National stories are a great way to supplement my small reporter's salary. ABC producers in New York expect four to five sound bites per story, and the each report has to be less than :25 seconds.
Now I'm off to the Rio Grande Art and Crafts Festivals.
Tonight, I'll check out the launch of the helium and hydrogen balloons as they begin their long journey... This year both the 2008 Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett and Americas Challenge races will be launched from Albuquerque. Who knows where they'll land. Some years they make it all the way to the Eastern border of Canada. Last year, they got stuck with no strong jet stream and landed in Colorado. Here's the link to track each team's progress.
On Sunday, I'll check out even more of this year's events.
OJ SIMPSON IS FACING LIFE IN PRISON AFTER FOUND GUILTY ON ALL 12 COUNTS IN HIS ARMED ROBBERY AND KIDNAPPING CASE. SIMPSON AND CO-DEFENDANT CLARENCE "CJ" STEWART, ALSO CONVICTED ON ALL CHARGES, WERE DENIED BAIL AND MUST REMAIN IN CUSTODY UNTIL SENTENCING DECEMBER 5TH. ONE OF THE CENTRAL FIGURES IN OJ'S ARREST WAS SPORTS MEMORABILIA DEALER THOMAS RICCIO - WHO WAS GRANTED IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION FOR GIVING POLICE THE SECRET RECORDING HE MADE OF THE ROBBERY. SPEAKING TO REPORTERS AFTER THE VERDICT, RICCIO SAID SIMPSON WAS SET UP.
THE BOTTOM LINE IS, I NEVER THOUGHT THERE WOULD BE A CONVICTION BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE THOUGHT THIS WAS A B.S CASE - OTHER PEOPLE WANTED HIS NECK, IT LOOKS LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO WANTED HIS NECK WON.
AFTER HEARING THE TESTIMONY, I'M SURPRISED, I AM. I THINK IT WAS OBVIOUS, THE GUY CAME RIGHT OUT AND SAID THEY WERE SETTING OJ UP.
LAS VEGAS GOT HIM, EVERYBODY WANTED HIM, AND VEGAS GOT HIM.
And now that the rescue package has been passed what happens next? The bill itself doesn't provide any help. It only demands Paulson explain how this whole thing is going to work two days after the first troubled assets are purchased.
For now, all of this leaves us, the American public, scraping for some answers.
Friday, October 3, 2008
The president is expected to sign the bill as soon as he receives it.
The proposal, which is contained in an economic recovery package, takes two significant steps for New Mexico: it expands and extends the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, increasing payments to New Mexico counties under the program next year from less than $2.4 million to about $21 million. That program supports counties that rely economically on national forest lands. The bill also fully funds the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates counties that have extensive federal land that cannot be a source of property taxes.
Bingaman worked with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and other key members of the Senate to develop and pass the proposal.
"I've been working to increase PILT and Secure Rural Schools funding for New Mexico for years," Bingaman said. "I'm certain this funding will be put to good use by communities across our state."
The proposal would provide about $2.1 billion through 2012 to fund counties with National Forest lands under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (commonly referred to as the "county payments" program). It is estimated that New Mexico would receive a total of more than $70 million during 2009-2012 under the program. New Mexico had received less than $2.4 million annually under the program, which expired in October of last year.
The proposal also ensures full-funding for PILT through 2012. Bingaman has sponsored legislation for several years that would make full funding for PILT mandatory. Because the federal formula leads to different funding levels each year, it is difficult to predict the exact amount New Mexico would receive. But full-funding for PILT would provide about a 35 percent increase in total funding for the program. New Mexico is one of the largest beneficiaries of the program, with thirty-two New Mexico counties receiving a total of nearly $22.5 million in PILT payments this year.
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Four days ago, I opposed a bailout plan that did too little for homeowners, too much for executives, and nothing to prevent Wall Street from repeating the mistakes that got us into this crisis. The core bailout bill brought before the House today is almost identical. It will still put New Mexico and U.S. taxpayer on the hook for $700 billion to bail out Wall Street, the very people whose irresponsibility helped to undermine America's economy and threaten the jobs and life savings of millions of American families.
Make no mistake: America faces a serious crisis, and we must do something. But we cannot let fear and artificial timelines drive our decision-making. Our solution should meet the demands of the day without producing more economic hardships in the future.
The core proposals of the bill sent from the Senate still have the same significant and fundamental flaws as the bill the House rejected. For example, under this proposal:
· The Treasury is given unprecedented power to spend taxpayer money without adequate oversight or an actual plan for fixing the systemic problems that led America to this crisis.
· Corporate executives who ran their companies into the ground can still walk away with millions in taxpayer-funded golden parachutes and lavish compensation packages.
· Taxpayer dollars are being spent to bail out foreign companies whose governments are doing nothing.
· Little is being done to help responsible homeowners. Tens of thousands of families could lose their homes. More importantly, families who had nothing to do with failed mortgages could lose billions in assets as foreclosures continue to drive down property values.
Unfortunately, the Senate has chosen to add unrelated provisions rather than concentrating on fixing this deeply flawed proposal. My vote today does not suggest any disagreement with the important package of tax cuts that was added in the last few days. I have consistently supported tax cuts for the middle class, including fixes for the Alternative Minimum Tax. I have long advocated for mental health parity legislation, and voted for it repeatedly. I have fought for tax credits to spur green industries and produce jobs. And I have worked to protect the Secure Rural Schools and Payment In Lieu of Taxes programs that would be extended by this bill. These proposals should be voted on based on their own strong merits, and not forced into a $700 billion taxpayer bailout—a plan that will have a large and widespread impact for generations—that has been rushed through with serious flaws and many problems left unaddressed.
Regardless of whether or not this legislation passes, Congress must work on a new framework for our financial system. In this hour of crisis, we have a rare opportunity to protect future generations from the turmoil we have seen. We must seize this opportunity, not simply bail out the very people who created this crisis."
Today's vote was difficult, but I believe it is what's right for New Mexico's Third Congressional District and the people of New Mexico and our nation.”
Before the 263-171 vote, member after member went to the well of the chamber to voice discomfort and displeasure with many aspects of the bailout legislation. But they also said they would vote for it anyway.
Congresswoman Heather Wilson voted yes today in favor of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, HR 1424.
After the vote Rep. Wilson released this statement:
It continues to be important for Congress to act to stabilize our financial markets. A failure of our financial system will hurt every American who has a 401(k) or needs a car loan or can't close on the house they want to buy because banks are stopping lending to banks.
There are also some important tax provisions in this bill that will also help boost our economy. For example, the package includes an extension of the patch of the Alternative Minimum Tax. Congress recognized that the failure to act would unacceptably drag twenty-one million additional families into the AMT’s clutches based on their 2008 income, with the total tax increase on American families exceeding $62 billion.
It also extends the now-expired research and development tax credit, which encourages cutting edge research – and the good jobs it supports – to be conducted here in the U.S. This provision is particularly good for New Mexico.
U.S. Senators Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) today praised final House passage of legislation that includes their bipartisan mental health parity agreement that will improve mental health coverage for an estimated 113 million Americans.
In approving the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (HR.1424) Friday, the House also agreed to a tax extenders package that includes the mental health parity legislation. The package will now be sent to President Bush, who has indicated his support for the measure.
Final passage of the parity legislation and its expected enactment culminates years of effort by Domenici, Kennedy, Enzi and Dodd. The Senators made it a priority to enact new legislation in the 110th Congress to build on the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act authored by Domenici and the late Senator Paul Wellstone, who died in 2002.
“We are ushering in a new era of health care for those with mental illnesses. No longer will we allow mental health to be treated as a stepchild in the health care system. If you have insurance, then your mental health care must be equal to the benefits you get for any other disease,” Domenici said. “I appreciate all the partners I’ve had in this long, long effort but most especially Senator Kennedy, who has been remarkable and stepped up to this work after Paul Wellstone’s tragic death. This has been a labor of love for us.”
“Today’s historic passage of mental health parity legislation will make a huge difference for the one in five Americans facing mental illness. The miracles of modern medicine make mental illnesses just as treatable today as physical illnesses,” said Kennedy. “After 10 years of debate, Congress has finally agreed to end the senseless discrimination in health insurance coverage that plagues persons living with mental illness for so long. It will now be the law of the land that people with such illnesses deserve the same access to affordable coverage as those with physical illnesses. It’s a great day for everyone who believes in fairness and fundamental justice for all.”
“Final passage of this mental health parity legislation is a watershed moment for millions of Americans with mental illness and their families. This landmark achievement unites the mental health advocacy, health care provider, employer, and insurance communities to bring fairness and relief to individuals and families who need help. The bill is years, if not decades, in the making, and reflects countless hours of sweat and negotiation. I want to thank Senator Domenici, Senator Kennedy, and Senator Dodd for their invaluable leadership to bring an end to the legislative paralysis on this important issue,” Enzi said.
“Today, Congress has given hope to the millions of Americans and their families who live with mental illness,” said Dodd. “No longer will they have to suffer alone. Instead, they will be treated with the same level of care, dignity and respect as those with physical ailments. It has been a long, hard struggle, but knowing that this bill will help millions of our nation’s citizens, it was well worth the fight.”
Domenici, Kennedy and Enzi authored the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007 (S.558), which was passed in the Senate by unanimous consent in September 2007. That bill had 57 cosponsors, including Dodd who has been instrumental in moving the parity legislation forward. The lawmakers reached a subsequent agreement with parity advocates in the House of Representatives and have since worked to find suitable offsets to pay for the legislation.
The new Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act would require health insurance plans that offer mental health coverage to provide the same financial and treatment coverage offered for other physical illnesses. The legislation was developed in talks with mental health, insurance and business organizations to craft compromise legislation. It does not mandate that group plans must provide any mental health coverage.
The 1996 parity law, authored by Domenici and Wellstone, only provided parity for annual and lifetime limits between mental health coverage and medical-surgical coverage.
The new parity legislation expands parity by including deductibles, co-payments, out-of-pocket expenses, coinsurance, covered hospital days, and covered out-patient visits. The measure also includes a small business exemption for companies with fewer than 50 employees, as well as a cost exemption for all businesses.
Nearly 30 U.S. Representatives who voted against it on Monday said they had changed their minds. President George W. Bush was ready to sign it into law, and the Dow Jones industrial average on Wall Street was up in early trading in anticipation of the climactic vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a vote for "Mr. and Mrs. Jones on Main Street."Republicans and Democrats alike said appeals from credit-starved small businessmen and the Senate's addition of $110 billion in tax breaks had persuaded them to drop their opposition.But, some votes appear to have also changed to a likely "no."A handful of Republicans who voted for it on Monday appeared less likely to do so Friday.
Enticing Tax Breaks
Virtually all the tax breaks added to make the bill more palatable to the House already exist. But many expired Jan. 1. Others will expire in three months.The largest group of beneficiaries is about 20 million mainly upper-middle income taxpayers. Without congressional action, the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT, would add about $2,000 in taxes this year for people mostly earning under $200,000 a year. It originally was supposed to affect only the very rich.Thousands of businesses are anxiously awaiting renewal of the research-and-development tax credit.Still, the outcome is far from assured. Vote-counters in both parties need to come up with a dozen or so supporters to reverse Monday's stunning defeat of the $700 billion measure.
Fallout Reaching Main Street
The financial system rescue plan may save parts of the financial industry, but it's not likely to help hundreds of thousands of homeowners who are behind on their mortgages avoid foreclosure.It only requires the Treasury Department to "maximize assistance for homeowners," and to write up monthly progress reports.It's estimated that within 12 to 18 months, about 40 percent of U.S. borrowers will owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.
That's almost the same number of American households that are spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.And as Congress considers the rescue plan, some consumer advocates are upset that it would help the same Wall Street banks that gave funding for the explosion of subprime loans -- without any definitive relief for homeowners.Even if the government were to push aggressive efforts to modify troubled loans, it could take months to put such an effort in place.
Meanwhile, current financial turmoil is also hitting stores nationwide.In order to attract more shoppers, they've posted sale signs on everything from fall sweaters to furniture, and are getting out the Christmas goodies even earlier than last year.One industry analyst said holiday items are already starting to flow into stores and are expected to be discounted immediately.
Here are word clouds featuring text from last night's VP debate transcripts.
You can create your own word clouds on wordle with text from anything.
Sara Palin's Debate Word Cloud
A secret flow chart from Sarah Palin's debate planning meetings:
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Lt. Governor Diane Denish Urges New Mexico Congressional Delegation to Work Together to Address Emergency Financial Stabilization
"Today I called the members of our Congressional delegation and urged their support for a work out bill for New Mexico's families," said Lt. Governor Denish.
"Just last week, I visited 8 communities and heard the stories of families and businesses that are being impacted by the economic turmoil. Families rely on lenders to make car loans, pay tuition, fund home mortgages and just make ends meet. It is unfortunate that New Mexicans find themselves forced into bearing the burden of this difficult situation. While some provisions of the bill are hard for me and others to accept, I believe now is the time for the House to work together across party lines to address the immediate crisis and then work to make sure this never happens again."
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The movie "Blindness" depicts the inhabitants of an unnamed city who suddenly go blind. Fearing that the blindness is contagious, the government quarantines the blinded citizens in an abandoned asylum, where moral, social, and hygienic standards quickly deteriorate and the blind extort valuables, food, and sex from one another. The movie is based on a novel by Portuguese author José Saramago.
"The National Federation of the Blind, is constantly working on changing what it means to be blind and allaying public fears about the loss of sight. We are protesting the way blind people are portrayed in the movie. We know that with appropriate training and education, blind people can and do live normal and independent lives," said Christine Hall, President of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico.
Greg Trapp, Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, said the protest is necessary.
"While I am disturbed by the offensive depiction of blindness, I am especially concerned that this movie will be distributed to nations where these depictions will be seen as reality, and not merely Hollywood fantasy. There are nations where the blind are the target of insidious discrimination and even violence. This movie will encourage such discrimination and violence. In some third world societies where blindness is thought to be a curse, This is not harmless entertainment," declared Trapp.
"As a broadcaster and journalist I have a long record of opposing censorship," said Art Schreiber, Chair of the Commission for the Blind, and longtime broadcaster. "I am also opposed to movie portrayals that foster negative images of minorities and persons with disabilities. This movie crosses the line from legitimate entertainment to something that is clearly inappropriate. This movie would never be produced if these images were based on a physical characteristic other than blindness," said Schreiber.
"It saddens me that Disney has released a movie that is so degrading to blind people," remarked Tonia Trapp, President of the Albuquerque Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
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To watch the episode, visit www.cleanskies.tv <http://www.cleanskies.tv/> and click on the "Energy Matters" box under "Programming."
In addition, the show will air on Sunday, October 5 at 9:30 AM on WJLA-Channel 7 in the Washington, DC market.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008
A bailout for the financial industry has cleared the Senate. Now its backers, including Pete Domenici, hope Representatives, including Tom Udall and Steve Pearce, get it passed in the House by Friday.
770KKOB News Director Pat Allen talked to Rep. Tom Udall ahead of the Senate vote. Udalls says there has to be protection for taxpayers and he'll vote for a measure that fixes the root causes of the economic crisis including more upping FDIC insurance to $250,000 for each bank account.
After the bill passed, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman released this statement:
My decision to vote for this plan is not to say that it represents what I see as the ideal solution. In particular, we should be doing more for Americans who are struggling to keep their homes.
We cannot afford to sit by idly and let this economic crisis take a further toll on the economy. But we also must be realistic about the limitations of this legislation: It is a band-aid intended to stop the bleeding. It will not address the inadequate regulatory framework that enabled this crisis, and Congress must commit to enacting comprehensive reforms that will ensure we never again find ourselves in such a precarious position.
Before the vote, Domenici’s office announced his mental health parity legislation had been added to the bailout bill.
It “was a decision made by the leadership, in consultation with other senators,” Domenici spokesman Chris Gallegos said, adding that, “Domenici supports the Senate package to be voted on today.”
Gallegos said the adding of the mental health legislation doesn’t mean a lot of extras are being slipped into the financial bailout bill. He said the legislation that will be voted on tonight includes the economic bailout proposal, a range of tax relief proposals and the mental health parity legislation.
In the final vote, 40 Democrats, 33 Republicans and independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut voted "yes." Nine Democrats, 15 Republicans and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted "no." Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama cast "aye" votes.
The rescue package would allow the government to spend billions of dollars to buy bad mortgage-related securities and other devalued assets held by troubled financial institutions.
The legislation has extra tax breaks and other sweeteners for holdouts in the House. Even as the Senate voted, House leaders were hunting for the 12 votes they would need to turn around Monday's defeat.
He's preparing to retire, but for now he's working hard to keep the economy afloat. Before he took the podium on the senate floor this afternoon, the former Senate Budget Chairman told 770KKOB News Director Pat Allen he will for for the Senate Financial Rescue Package. He says it's an economic recovery plan not a Wall Street bailout. He says there will be a huge ripple affect throughout the economy if it's not passed.
Listen to Domenici's analogy of a six-car pile up if the measure fails.
Domenici, the former Senate Budget Committee chairman, today said he is confident the Senate will pass a modified Emergency Economic Stabilization Act and stressed the importance of the measure for limiting further damage to the U.S. economy.
Domenici signaled his intention to vote for the financial rescue plan when the Senate takes up the package Wednesday evening.
“I will vote for this plan because it is what our nation needs now. We must take action to restore confidence not just in the U.S. financial markets, but on every Main Street and in every home.
“I am certain the Senate will pass this financial rescue plan, which includes strong taxpayer protections, stronger regulatory oversight and reduction in executive compensation.
“This is not a ‘bailout.’ It is a ‘buyout’ plan to allow the government over the next two years to buy the toxic assets that today are drying up credit to virtually all aspects of American life. Without a freer flow of credit, banks and lending institutions won’t have the money to lend to small businesses, home buyers, college students or car buyers. Job creation will stop all over the country.
“This bill can’t cure all America’s economic problems, but if we don’t act things will get much worse. We cannot risk the consequences of doing nothing. It’s just that simple.”
The Senate bill builds in new regulatory oversight and expands the FDIC ability to cover accounts up to $250,000.
The Senate economic recovery plan has been paired with the tax extenders bill that includes Alternative Minimum Tax relief, renewable energy tax credit extensions, small business and individual tax breaks. It also contains the bipartisan Mental Health Parity legislation that Domenici authored with Senator Edward M. Kennedy and others.
Photo Credit: MG Bralley
The new Darren White for Congress campaign ad contains an interview with the parents of Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy James McGrane, Jr., who was shot and killed, in the line of duty, in March 2006.
"Martin Heinrich's latest television ad that suggests I would endanger the lives of my police officers crosses the line, and shows that Martin will say and do anything to win this election," said Darren White.
White's Campaign Manager, Sara Lister added, "Martin Heinrich launched a shameless character attack and questioned Darren's commitment and fidelity to the safety and protection of his fellow officers. Our spot simply sets the record straight."
Darren has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Albuquerque Police Officers' Association.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Palin has frustrated even the network reporters. Listen to Charlie Gibson's interview with her here and see Katie Couric's interview here.
And you simply have to roll this video, sent to me by 770KKOB Traffic Reporter Helen Wheels, featuring an interview with a politico in Australia. It's simply hilarious. I guess politicians are good at evading answers everywhere.
If you simply can't secure an interview with Sarah Palin, don't fret. The kind folks at this website have you covered. It's worth clicking through and checking it out.
Monday, September 29, 2008
But, by sunset, the two-term Sheriff had fired back with his own questions about Heinrich's integrity.
Heinrich claims White “is knee deep in one of the largest scandals in the history of the DOJ and he needs to come clean immediately to the voters of Central New Mexico about his role in the potentially illegal firing of U.S. Attorneys,” because his name is mentioned in the 300+ page joint report from the DOJ's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility.
But the question is did Heinrich pounce too quickly?
White says, "I don't think I ever talked to David," about potential voter fraud, White said. "I just sent him a letter."
Keep in mind, White is the second top law enforcement officer in Bernalillo County responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes, including voter fraud.
In a press release from Heinrich, White is criticized for passing along information about potential criminal activity to the US Attorney.
"This scandal clearly demonstrates Darren White is anything but an independent voice for New Mexico and the voters of central New Mexico will see him for the partisan hack that he is," Heinrich said.
However, White said he told Justice Department investigators everything he knew about possible voter fraud, describing how he had forwarded information to Iglesias. He disputed Heinrich's allegation that he acted improperly.
"I was just doing my job," White said.
Heinrich’s staff lifted this quote from the Albuquerque Journal that has already by retracted by the paper’s editor:
White earlier admitted he had complained to both Attorney General Gonzales' Chief of Staff at the Department of Justice and Senator Pete Domenici about Iglesias, who subsequently said that White was part of "a political chorus that got to Pete Domenici." [Albuquerque Journal, 4/15/07, 4/19/07]But the White campaign quickly released this unedited letter from Albuquerque Journal Editor Ken Walz to White retracting some of the reporting:
Sheriff White:The Word also received this letter (click on image to the left to read the orginal) sent from Sheriff Darren White to US Attorney David Iglesias asking him to investigate voter fraud.
I have reviewed our David Iglesias stories with investigative reporter Mike Gallagher.
It appears that in a story published April 15, 2007, we incorrectly placed you in a convesation [conversation] with Kyle Sampson of DOJ during a meeting in the spring of 2006. We reported that you complained to Sampson about Iglesias and that Sampson produced statistics showing Iglesias was doing a good job.
In fact, based on other reporting, it appears to us the participants in that conversation with Sampson were Pat Rogers and Mickey Barnett and that you were not present.
Your [You] met with Sampson in 2005 on a different topic, although Iglesi [Iglesais] as came up during casual discussion. We have no information that you registered complaints about Iglesias during that meeting.
We did interview you for the story published in April of 2007, and you commented on other matters involving direct dealings between Iglesias and youir [your] office. We no longer have notes from this period, so we cannot cite to additional specifics.
cc: Mike Gallagher
White says he sent Iglesias the letter after receiving a complaint from a mother about her underage child being fraudulently registered to vote, and after he consulted with the Democrat County Clerk Mary Herrera. In the letter White says he's "writing to bring to your attention potential inconsistencies with certain voter registration within Bernalillo County.
White informs Iglesias, "I'm referring the documentation to your office [U.S. Attorney] for investigation under federal law. The letter says copies of voter registration forms with "several potential problems are included."
We also obtained this copy of a letter from David Iglesias thanking White for his correspondence and confirms he has sent the referral to a task force. To read Iglesias letter click the image to the left.
In this transcript from the Albuquerque Journal Article Herrera clearly tells the reporter she'd like a federal investigation into problem voter cards:
County Clerk Mary Herrera said she is also getting forms that are only partially completed. When a clerk's employee calls the voter to fill in the blanks, the person sometimes says he or she never filled out the form, Herrera said. She said she, too, wants the U.S. Attorney's Office or state prosecutors to get involved. "We have a pile (of forms) that we are questioning," Herrera said in an interview. "They're just suspicious."
White's own campaign says if Heinrich wants to criticize the Sheriff for passing along information about potential criminal activity to the US Attorney, the question voters should really start asking is what would Heinrich do in the same situation?
Photo Credit: MG Bralley
Progressive blogger NMFBI HOP posted a U-tube video here featuring an interview with David Iglesias commenting on the Bern Co Sheriff at one of his "In Justice" book signings.
Updated with Audio: David Iglesias, A Fired U.S. Attorney, Hopes Subpoena Power Helps Special Prosecutor Find "Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt."
"I've been telling people for two years that my firing was illegal," said Iglesias, from the Saint Anselm College campus in New Hampshire.
A report released Monday singles out the removal of New Mexico's former U.S. Attorney as the most troubling of the controversial firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006.
The Word tracked Iglesias down this morning. He tells us, "The special prosecutor will have more authority to investigate the firings." Iglesias says he supports the move.
"It was the next logical step. We've never had proof beyond a reaonable doubt."
UPDATED - 6:15PM
770KKOB News Director Pat Allen recorded a 2nd telephone interview with Mr. Iglesias. The former Navy Jag, told Allen, this investigation will be complicated, but he believes even the "high and mighty" face consequences.
On Monday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed a prosecutor Monday to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans who were involved in the firings.Mukasey's action follows the leading recommendation of the Justice Department report. That probe harshly criticized Bush administration officials, members of Congress and their aides for the ousters, which were seen by many as politically motivated.
The report states Republican political figures in New Mexico --including Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson --had complained about Iglesias' handling of voter fraud and public corruption cases. The report states those complaints led to his firing.
Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility director Marshall Jarrett said that a prosecutor is needed because serious allegations involving potential criminal conduct have not been fully investigated or resolved.
Iglesias is lecturing at Saint Anselm College (the site of Presidential debates). He's been on tour promoting his book, In Justice: The Scandal That Rocked the Bush Administration since the first week in June.
He was invited by University of New Mexico Professor David Albright and will lecture students at a Business Ethics class this week. Iglesias did not know how many book have been sold, but told us the tour will end next month, on October 9th, at Yale University.
Tripp Jennings has more on this story at the New Mexico Independent.
And you can read the complete Department of Justice report online here.
UPDATED - 3:50pm
Visit page 188 in the report (linked above) to read details outlining the possible involvement by several high ranking New Mexico Republicans. Iglesias has accused Senator Pete Domenici, Rep. Heather Wilson, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, Mickey Barnett and Pat Rogers of requesting the White House fire Iglesias for prolonging voter fraud investigations and delaying indictments in the Bernalillo County Metro Courthouse construction corruption trial.
UPDATED - 4:00pm
Sen. Pete Domenici's attorney K. Lee Black has just released a statement regarding the report.
Domenici's lawyer says: The report is complete with innuendos that pass as findings. He also claims the six-term retiring Senator offered to respond to questions in writing during the report's compilation.
The Senate Ethics Committee has already investigated and rejected the allegation that Senator Domenici may have obstructed or otherwise interfered with an ongoing criminal investigation.
After an exhaustive review, taking sworn testimony from numerous witnesses and reviewing thousands of pagers of documents in the process, the Ethics Committee found “not substantial evidence that [Senator Domenici] attempted to improperly influence an ongoing investigation.” Indeed, even Mr. Iglesias himself has conceded that Senator Domenici did not attempt to obstruct his investigations, “I doubt [Senator Domenici] called me to interfere with the courthouse cases” and the Senator “never directly pressured me to take action” on voter fraud cases
To read the rest of the statement click on the photo image to the left.
Iglesias told Heather Clark with the Associated Press he thinks criminal investigations should be pursued against Domenici, Wilson and anyone else who may have broken federal criminal laws.
I've said all along that these moves were improper and illegal and now it appears that they were criminal as well.
Our complaints weren't just complaints of disgruntled former employees.
Photo Credit: MG Bralley
"We know from past experience that con artists follow the headlines to exploit the worries of everyday investors," said Bruce R. Kohl, director of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department Securities Division.
"In times of confusion and uncertainty, there are always those who will try to prey on the investing public," Kohl said. "Investors should resist the temptation to make hasty decisions about their investments or finances. And now is the time to be especially wary of unsolicited financial advice offering new investment opportunities."
Kohl urged investors to make informed decisions about their long-term financial holdings and to seek the advice of a trusted investment adviser or financial planner before making any sudden moves with their money.
Kohl offered the following tips for investors:
- Request written information that fully explains the investment, such as a prospectus or offering circular. The documentation should contain enough clear and accurate information to allow you or your financial adviser to evaluate and verify the particulars of the investment.
- Contact the Securities Division at 800-704-5533 to find out if the investment firm and sales professional are licensed in the State of New Mexico, and if the investment product offered is registered with the state.
- Get a professional, trusted third-party opinion when presented with investment opportunities that seem to offer unusually high returns in comparison to other investment options
- If you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k) plan, get unbiased advice and guidance before making any significant changes to your long-term savings and investment strategy.
The Regulation and Licensing Department Securities Division protects New Mexicans from fraud and financial abuse by licensing investment professionals, registering securities offerings made in the state and investigating financial fraud and other violations of the state securities laws.