The corruption bombshell with suspicious timing....

In this week's Intelligencer, we look at the curious timing of the bombshell Stapleton corruption accusation, the new mask & vax policy for schools, entrepreneurial state legislators, more drama at CFYD, the uphill fight that Democrats face trying to win back Hispanics, and radical taxpayer-funded activist groups.

The Intelligencer is a weekly newsletter that gives you a quick overview of La Politica across New Mexico and the U.S., covering topics such as policy, current events, the political landscape, and tech.

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Dax Contreras
Executive Director, Hispanos Unidos


1. Stapleton's bombshell drops while AG Balderas is under fire for his own scandal


Details: Attorney General Hector Balderas dropped the hammer on the Majority Floor Leader of the state House of Representatives Sheryl Williams Stapleton, sending law enforcement to raid Stapleton’s home and business.

The Democrat is being investigated for “racketeering, money laundering and receiving illegal kickbacks” connected to Albuquerque Public Schools.

Why it matters: Robotics Management Learning Systems LCC, a D.C. company contracted with APS, made payments of nearly $1 Million to Stapleton’s four companies; investigators are also digging into additional payments redirected into her personal bank accounts.

The big picture: The timing is more than curious. AG Hector Balderas is also currently being accused of corruption. Is Balderas using a fellow Democrat to distract from his own scandal by posing as a "bi-partisan" fighter of corruption, throwing Stapleton under the bus? Or is the Stapleton family’s connections to state money schemes catching up with them

2. New mask & vax policies extend school restrictions

school _mask

Details: On the heels of new CDC directives, New Mexico Public Education Department announced their own mandates for school children and teachers. “Until vaccinations are available to children of every age,” said Governor Lujan Grisham, schools must “do everything we can to minimize risk — and that includes face-coverings.”

Why it matters: Public school officials will be allowed to require universal masking in any school, even among students who hand over “vax papers” –proof of an emergency-only FDA approved shot. But should parents have more choice in how to keep their kids safe from infections and from experimental injections?

The big picture: Even though COVID-19 cases are down significantly and the survival rate for kids is 99.997% the state continues to socially lockdown children. Considering that immigrants entering unlawfully through the southern border are not required to be tested or quarantined for COVID-19, it seems public health is merely a pretense for selectively strict government control.

3. State legislators scrounge for salaries


Details: A discussion draft of a constitutional amendment presented Monday to the Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee would empower the State Ethics Commission to set salaries for legislators. Currently, they can only receive limited per diem and reimbursement and New Mexico is the only unpaid legislature. The draft is very similar to the failed House Joint Resolution 12 from the 2021 regular session.

The big picture: Proponents say it will expand the pool of people who will be able to run for office. Skeptics point to legislators who benefit themselves with the laws they pass as well as the many elected representatives who are funded by the non-profits they control (or are controlled by).

What they're saying: Sen. Ivey-Soto perhaps put it best, when he said “part of the problem is the general public thinks we’re overpaid as it is because, after all, what rational person would do what we do for nothing?”

4. “Who is Binti, and why are they in charge of this project?”

sad kid

Details: CYFD, the state agency infamous for transparency problems, now faces more criticism.

At least half a dozen “high-level employees have been reprimanded, resigned or were fired after they raised questions about Binti Inc.,” a tech company that CYFD gave a no-bid $45,000,000 contract. Both Binti Inc. and Cabinet Secretary Brian Blalock come from the bay area of Oakland and San Francisco.

Why it matters: CYFD officials are brushing off the accusations but emails from their chief procurement officer charge the agency had failed “to provide safeguards for maintaining a procurement system of quality and integrity.” Several other states have disqualified Binti from competitive bids because of low performance and it has never attempted a project of this scale, overhauling the entire computer system that keeps track of the thousands of children the agency is responsible for. What is CYFD’s priority? Kids or kickbacks? 

5. Democrats took Hispanic support for granted in 2020. Biden wants to change that, but he's running into significant headwinds.

hispanic worker

Details: One of the biggest surprises in the 2020 was the collapse of Hispanic support of Democrats, a continuing story we've covered in this newsletter as recently as two weeks ago. Biden, Democrats, and other left-leaning organizations are well aware of the issue and are working to change that trajectory. New York Times story on Tuesday covered how Democratic leaders are trying a more aggressive approach.

What they're saying: “Democrats are at code red — they see it, they get it and they are scrambling to get all hands on deck,” said Daniel Garza, the executive director of LIBRE, a conservative Latino group.

Why it matters: These efforts reflect how vital Hispanic voters are to the party’s success, but also "the extent of the work needed to win back a group that makes up nearly 20 percent of the population. Democrats have long viewed these voters — a diverse group that includes dozens of countries of origin and a wide range of socioeconomic status — as a mostly monolithic bloc that could be taken for granted, operating as though the most important factor was simply turnout..." As we know those assumptions are incorrect.

What we're watching: Hispanic voters are not a monolithic block and care about the same "kitchen table" issues as other American families, and a recent poll shows the significant drop in support keeping Democrats up at night.

The numbers reveal how heavily underwater Biden is with independents when it comes to crime, gun violence, and immigration (all issues especially relevant in New Mexico). As the numbers show, that's very bad news for Biden because the economy and COVID were supposed to be his safe guards, but he's close to losing double digit support on both issues since March.

6. City gives cash to political activists


Details: A new million-dollar program was approved by the Albuquerque City Council in an effort to help Black-owned businesses and nonprofits based locally.

The program drew support from groups like One ABQ Black Investment Fund. But some are wary of radical left-wing organizations like the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice getting in on the action.

Why it matters: The Center for Peace & Justice also has a political activism coalition that includes a variety of left-wing organizations including eco-extremist groups, the Rio Grande Sierra Club, and Marxist fronts such as Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and Citizen Action NM. Citizen Action was founded by ex-SDS activists and has worked very closely with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The big picture: The above groups are some of the most influential pressure-groups that collaborate with state Democrats, often writing legislation and packing committee hearings to force bills upon an unwitting public. “This fund plays an important role…making this money available to…our community,” said Jim Harvey, of the ACPJ. Whether the ABQ city councilors know it or not, this $500,000 could push New Mexico further to the left.