A Week in Review & The Truth About The Regional Coalition Misuse of Funds

Roxanne and I have spent scores of hours combing over the State Audit and a separate independent report on the Regional Coalition’s misuse of public funds. What we found is stunningly different than what you will find in mainstream and social media.

The Truth About Regional Coalition Misuse of Funds

Recently New Mexico’s Office of the State Auditor (OSA) completed an audit of the Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) Communities’ (RCLC) expenditures amidst claims of misuse of public funds. Subsequently, Los Alamos County (LAC), the fiscal agent for RCLC, contracted with Adams + Crow (A+C) to do an independent analysis of the County’s responsibility for the situation.

Not many people have the time to read a 40-page audit and a 40-page independent report, and so they must rely on the media to report on what is contained in such documents. For days, Roxanne and I have pored over every word of these reports and discussed our reactions endlessly. We are nearly finished with a detailed post with excerpts from both documents. We will publish that tomorrow or Wednesday. Our intent is not to exonerate Andrea Romero but rather to understand and synthesize what we found. Both of us feel the media has missed critical findings from these reports and in the process shifted all of the blame for misuse of funds to Romero.

As the coming post will describe and substantiate, well before the hiring of Romero in 2016, the RCLC and its fiscal agent LAC had established a fiscal process that both the OSA and the A+C report felt was guided by confusion, blurred roles and responsibility, and showed a willful disregard for state law and the OSA. We have seen none of this reported, and no outcries have been aimed at any of the elected leaders on the RCLC board or the senior staff from LAC who were responsible for fiscal oversight.

What we have found is that the RCLC bylaws clearly indicate that the RCLC Secretary-Treasurer Henry Roybal is responsible for overseeing and approving expenditures and that over time LAC had assumed much of that responsibility. Neither performed that role, and they allowed their Travel Policy to remain out of alignment with State law, routinely approved unallowable expenditures, and ignored a 2013 OSA memo indicating that it was required to submit annual audits.

All of these failings pre-dated Romero’s being retained by the RCLC. The OSA Audit and the A+C report clearly indicate that the vast majority of funds misused were expenses incurred by RCLC board members, senior LAC staff, and their guests. Romero’s role was to pay the check and submit invoices for reimbursement. Oversight of the appropriateness of those expenses fell squarely upon the RCLC Secretary Treasurer and LAC. We have seen none of this is reported. It is hard to understand why the media would fail to report what is very clear in both reports.

It is easy to see how some Democrats, reading only an inexplicably incomplete and misleading rendering of the two reports, would have legitimate concerns, as so many newly energized Democrats want to reform and strengthen the Party.

It is far easier to understand why the new write-in candidate and her supporters would self-servingly cherry pick these reports and foist sole responsibility for misuse of funds upon Romero, fueling a social media and public narrative that is far from accurate. After all, these are the same folks who attacked Laura Bonar and tried to characterize her claims of harassment as some kind of surreal ‘witch hunt’ orchestrated by Speaker Egolf. A Subcommittee of four House Reps found sufficient evidence supporting Bonar’s claims after hearing all the evidence, including corroboration from multiple witnesses.

Look for tomorrow’s post that will contain a more detailed analysis with excerpts and references from both reports. Our hope in presenting these two posts is to shift the public narrative to the full truth about this whole mess, to attribute responsibility for misuse of funds where it belongs, and allow voters to focus on issues and stated candidate positions instead of unsubstantiated claims and counterclaims. Voters deserve an honest discussion of the issues.

Full DNC to Vote on Accepting Fossil Fuel Donations and Limiting Superdelegate Influence; Time to Contact Our NM DNC Members

The DNC is holding a meeting in Chicago on August 23-25, and two important issues will be discussed. The first will be to vote on a recent DNC Executive Committee decision to reverse its ban on fossil fuel donations. The proposed reversal would be an incomprehensible decision in the context of New Mexico suffering from record high temperatures and record low precipitation, India experiencing historic floods, California reeling from horrific fires, and the seas continuing to rise. Yet, the DNC Executive Committee thinks this is a good time to cozy up to the fossil fuel industry. Click here to read more on Democratic centrists caving to the corporatocracy….again.

At the same meeting, the DNC will consider whether to accept the very good decision of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, backed by Chair Tom Perez, to eliminate the voting power of Superdelegates on the first ballot for the nomination. We’d like to have the Superdelegates eliminated entirely, but from multiple reports, even this modest reform is finding significant push back from Superdelegates unwilling to relinquish their voting privileges. It is time to return the Democratic Party to democracy and ensure that people, not lobbyists and corporate shills, select our Presidential candidates.

DPNM Chair Marg Elliston has indicated that she intends to vote to ban fossil fuel donations and to prohibit Superdelegate voting on the first ballot. While we would like to ban Superdelegates altogether, it is unacceptable to return to the status quo. Superdelegates should not vote on the first ballot (or any ballot). Further, what kind of democracy and Democratic Party do we have with fossil fuel donations influencing the Party AND Superdelegates influencing our selection of a Democratic Party nominee.

We provide contact information below for our DNC representatives. Please thank Marg Elliston while reinforcing the importance of her not wavering. More importantly, contact our other DNC members and implore them to vote against fossil fuel donations and Superdelegates voting on the first ballot. Click here to read an opinion piece on the Superdelegate issue.

In solidarity,
Paul and Roxanne

Marg Elliston
300 Central Ave., SW Ste. 1300
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Neomi Martinez-Parra

Joni Marie Gutierrez
New Mexico DNC Committeewoman
575-526-5079 jonig@zianet.com

Raymond Sanchez
New Mexico DNC Committeeman


A Week In Review

Due to spending scores of hours reviewing the RCLC State Audit and subsequent independent audit and to both Roxanne and I being sidelined by an intestinal bug contracted in Mexico, we only got to two blogs last week. But they were both well worth your review. We are finding that trying to push out 3 posts, plus the Monday summary is too time consuming and ultimately prevents me from devoting sufficient time to each post to create as high a quality and thorough job as is desirable. So going forward, we will post the Monday look back, often with coming actions and two posts on Tuesday and Thursday.

An Antidote to the DNC; a Corrupted Democracy and a Local Path to Equity

The blog describes the DNC’s plans to undermine their own integrity and rescind their commitment to stop taking fossil fuel donations. This was only the tip of the iceberg as centrist leadership held a hush-hush meeting in Columbus with lobbyists and corporate donors to plot strategy to marginalize progressive legislation and party reform efforts. In addition, the post included a summary of Spain’s Municipalism, AKA En Comu, and how they have successfully restored participatory democracy on a local level in cities throughout Eurpope, a template for what we may want to do here. Click here to review the full report.

Health Insurers Routinely Deny Life-Saving Treatments, Rescind Policies, and Otherwise Undermine Our Health. Precisely Why We Need NM Health Security Act

Thursday, Aug 16.  The post describes one case where a 33 year-old woman after undergoing endless surgery and chemotherapy to address her cervical cancer, had only one viable option for survival, a treatment endorsed by all of her five doctors. Her insurers said no, leaving it to her parents to pay the $95K tab. She is cancer free after two years. But not everyone has parents to pay that kind of tab. The post also describes just how frequently these kinds of denials occur and how insurers will even rescind your policy and bill you for treatment already received without justification. Post also provides information about NM’s antidote to this kind of criminal malpractice:  the Health Security Act. Click here to read the full report on health insurer malfeasance.

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  1. This is a response to a fundraising request from Jeff Bigaman for MLG:

    Dear Mr. Bingaman:

    Thank you for the obviously disingenuous request for funds to support MLG’s bid for Governor of our state.

    “Michelle is the progressive leader New Mexico needs.” You write.

    Here is a quote from MLG as reported from her interview with the Albuquerque Journal on August 15th:
    She states: “Progressives have lost their minds.” and she continues with the admonition that fracking is somehow compatible with a healthy environment and safe drinking water. She opposes a unified health care plan for New Mexicans. She insists that progressives are opposed to national security because we reject the inhumane practices of ICE family separation policies. She opposes investment in renewable energies.

    We can only assume MLG is seeking mega donations from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, fosil fuel companies, and the old tech utilities companies to keep us stuck in the same 8 year whole dug by Susanne Martinez. We see nothing forward thinking or visionary here. Nothing to improve our state. Nothing to help our citizens.

    And yet here you come asking for money for a candidate that is a disaster, that can’t run an effective campaign without insulting more than half the democratic voters in our state. A candidate that in her own words was a bad student, a horrible law student, and has been fired three times by prior governors. How will that play in Koch Brother funded advertisements?

    Many of us called, emailed and visited the campaign office to express our dismay at being sidelined by this candidate. No response. And now you want to pretend MLG is somehow a Progressive. Surely you know the greatest mistake a candidate can make is to flip flop on issues. Then no one trusts the candidate. If MLG has had an epiphany, please do share this good news with us.

    Most of us will end up voting for this very weak candidate with the thin hope she might be wise enough to listen to voters. The alternative is too hard to bear. Yet we have warned MLG that by insulting the values of progressives (health care for all, environment, renewable energy policies, public education from early childhood through university/vo-tech) she will not receive our donations or our volunteer time. The true shame here is the Democratic Party of New Mexico does not represent the majority of liberals or progressives; they have endorsed a weak candidate. We must find real solutions elsewhere. With hard work we will replace her in 4 years if she does not wake up to the current realities of state management.

    MLG at best is a lost opportunity for a Democrats and for the potential of New Mexico.

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