A Huge Victory for the Planet in Brazil, plus Commentary on the Favorite to Replace Sen. Jacob Candelaria, Rep. Moe Maestas and His Ties to Industry,

Today, we report on the huge upset in Brazil, as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, AKA “Lula” has been elected President of Brazil, winning a huge victory for the people of Brazil and for protection of the Amazon. We also offer commentary on the influence of lobbyists in the NM state legislature and how that influence should impact BernCo Commission’s choice to replace Sen Jacob Candelaria.

Lula Wins Election,
But Will Bolsonaro Concede?

From The Guardian’s excellent piece, Lula stages astonishing comeback to beat far-right Bolsonaro in Brazil election by Tom Phillips:

“With 99.97% of votes counted, Silva, a former factory worker who became Brazil’s first working-class president exactly 20 years ago, had secured 50.9% of the vote. Bolsonaro, a firebrand who was elected in 2018, received 49.10%.”

Responding to concerns that his election will result in a divided Brazil, Lula was quoted as saying: “I will govern for 215m Brazilians … and not just for those who voted for me. There are not two Brazils. We are one country, one people – a great nation,” he said to applause. “It is in nobody’s interests to live in a country that is divided and in a constant state of war.”

But while lula has spoken and announced a plan to speak wih President Biden today, Bolsonro has remained silent and is meeting with advisors this morning at the Presidential palace, fueling concerns he may not concede. These are reasonable concerns since Bolsonaro, taking a page from Trump, has stated repeatedly that the only way he could lose, was if the election was rigged.

These concerns have not limited the joy evident everywhere in the streets of Brazil, as evident below

This is what joy looks like.. click play to watch pure joy

Despite the joy in the streets, Bolsonaro’s silence and reports of his meeting with advisors in preparing for a major speech later today, are fueling concerns that he may attempt a military coup. Brazil has never had an incumbent lose a presidential election, so they have no experience in achieving a peaceful transition and Bolsonaro is a pseudo-Trump, so many fear the worst. Nonetheless for now the joy in Brazil is unfettered. May it last. This would be an enormous victory for justice and the planet.

BernCo. Commission Offers Minor Concession, Postpones Selection Vote to Nov 15

A triumvirate of moderate/ conservative Bernalillo (BernCo)Commissioners tried to fast track a Senate appointment of Representative Moe Maestas to replace Sen. Jacob Candelaria without allowing time to get community input or applications from other potential appointees. Three moderate/ conservative BernCo Commissioners called for an emergency meeting on October 31 to vote on this appointment. But, when a flurry of protest emerged, the three commissioner majority, likely realizing that there was no need to rile constituents by the obviously undemocratic move, as the same 3-2 majority eager to rush the choice, will be voting on the selection as long as the vote occurs before new commissioners take office in 2023. And so, they have set Nov. 15 as the new date for the selection to occur, with a deadline of Nov 10 for candidates to submit their application and organize support for their candidacy, providing at least a veneer of fairness. Of course, we’d all prefer they postponed this most important decision until the installation of new commissioners in January, when it is highly likely the 3-2 moderate majority will be reversed to 3-2 progressive. But with Candelaria’s resignation long expected, it can’t be said that Nov. 15 is “rushing” the vote.

In conversation with Sen. Harold Pope, I was told that Julie Radoslovich, an educator who has served as head teacher and principal at South Valley Academy, would be submitting an application and that he endorses her candidacy. While new to politics, Radoslovich is currently enrolled in Emerge, an intensive training program for Democratic women seeking public office. It is possible there will be other applicants, so stay tuned.

What is the Concern about Rep. Moe Maestas?

Rep. Moe Maestas has served in the legislature for 14 years and chairs the important House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, so he has an experience base that would seem appropriate for an appointment to the Senate. However a quick look at Representative Maestas’ campaign contributions reveals who his true constituents are, and they ain’t us.. From 2017 to today campaign financing reports reveal that he received at least:

  • $47,850 from the oil and gas industry,
  • $8,250 from investor-owned utilities,
  • $9,000 from the tobacco industry, and
  • $3,500 from the alcohol industry.

You can look at the financial disclosures and campaign reports at the following links:
2020 general election-present: https://login.cfis.sos.state.nm.us/#/publicreports
2020 primary election and earlier: https://www.cfis.state.nm.us/

This tally does not include the myriad contributions he received from lobbyists and other industries. Consider how many industry sponsored or industry opposed bills are sent to his Commerce and Economic Development, the committee chaired by Maestas. It is impossible to believe that all those campaign contributions don’t translate into immediate and sustained contact and input from those industries’ lobbyists. They’ve paid for access. Donations from industry regularly fill the campaign coffers of Democratic leadership, a problem that badly needs to be fixed.

Industry’s influence on Maestas extends well beyond campaign contributions, as Maestas’s wife, prominent lobbyist Vanessa Alarid, represents many different interest groups, including the oil and gas and pharmaceutical industries, according to financial disclosures the representative has filed in the last two years. This represents a significant conflict of interest and a major impediment for passage of worker or consumer-friendly legislation sent to his committee. Maestas has claimed that his wife doesn’t try to influence his views on legislation. But it is hard to believe that discussions don’t occur and at best, the collective influence of the corporate donations and the influence of his wife, projects an appearance of impropriety.

But Maestas is not alone in being married to a prominent lobbyist. Democrat Majority Whip, Doreen Gallegos, who also sits on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee is married to Scott Scanland,. Who has been a New Mexico lobbyist since 1987 and according to Milan Simonich . “Scanland has a higher profile at the Capitol than many lawmakers.” And so in one of the House’s most impactful committees, we have a slim 6-4 Dem majority with two of the four members being heavily influenced by industry, and one of them is chair. No wonder so many consumer-friendly bills die in this committee.

To be fair, one of Retake’s favorite legislators, Sen. Liz Stefanics is married to Linda Siegle, who is president of a consulting company focused on lobbying the legislature for non-profit agencies. I’ve seen no evidence of untoward influence here, but again appearances matter

You would think the Democratic Party wouldn’t want to appoint industry-aligned legislators to leadership positions like whip or chair of committee that considers bills directly related to industries for which their spouse lobbies, if only for appearances sake.

This is a problem and one that Dem. leadership could address by creating a rule that no representative with a lobbyist spouse or partner can chair a committee, if their partner works for industries with interests relevant to that committee, and a second rule prohibiting such a legislator from voting on any legislation on which their partner is lobbying.

Returning to BernCo, it may be that preventing Maestas from being appointed to the Senate is not possible, the 3-2 vote seems in concrete, but if the Commission does appoint Maestas, they will soon be charged with selecting a replacement for Maestas. Recall that this Commission appointed Art de la Cruz, a strong ally of developers and supporter of the ill-advised Santalino development, as the replacement for Brittney Barrera. It is important to make sure the commission is aware of constituent objections to their selections in two ways. First,

  • Vote for and actively support Barbara Baca in Dist. 1, or
  • Vote for and actively support Eric Olivas in Dist. 5, and fundamentally change the political composition of the commission while sending a message to the entire commission that alignment with industry and development is not OK; and

Second, once the dust has settled and the candidates seeking the appointment are finalized, write and call Commissioners to tell them you do not want them to appoint Rep. Maestas to the Senate, but that you want a Senator who will represent your interests, not those of industry. It might be a good idea to wait until all the potential candidates are announcedas I am told there is a search for more candidates.

Contact info for the Bernalillo County Commissioners is provided below:

Stay tuned, we will send out info on the candidates and remind you to take action. And in the meantime, connect with Eric Olivas’s campaign and call, canvass and contribute to ensure he becomes commissioner for Dist 5. And while I am told that Barbara Baca is safe in Dist.1 and will win that seat, if you have time, reach out to her campaign and give her some support, as well.

The BernCo commission will make more legislator replacement decisions zand have final say on Santolina. We are o close to achieving a 3-2 majority that will reliably vote to advance the interests of constituents over corporations. So let’s do it!!

In solidarity & hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: State Elections

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3 replies

  1. Firstly, I agree over all with your analysis and assessment, Paul and Roxanne. Very thorough. You have clearly done your homework. I am firmly convinced, however, that waiting until a new commission convenes in January is too long to wait to fill this senate position. Delaying comes across as gamesmanship (wait until “our guys” get in so we can get the candidate we want). This is reminiscent of Mr. McConnell in the U.S. Senate denying Merrick Garland a hearing in Obama’s last year; then rushing through the Amy Comey Barret nomination in Trump’s last months. This type of approach undermines confidence both in our institutions and in those who occupy them. I would even go so far as to say it undermines confidence in democracy as a whole. And heaven only knows we have had too much of that from Mr Trump and his legions of election deniers. Besides, it’s a gamble — no guarantee E. Olivas will win.

    Secondly, and most importantly, I firmly believe Commissioner’s O’Malley’s behavior at the last BernCo commissioner’s meeting was unacceptable — and we need to say so loud and clear, especially as progressives. It is hypocritical on my part to advocate for progressive positions and yet still tolerate poor behavior because the person in question (D. O’Malley) is on “my side”. I recall the old expression: “With friends like her, who needs enemies?” So I say: “With progressives like Commissioner O’Malley, who needs conservatives?” She hurts our cause. She needs to go. And whether she hurts our cause or not, her behavior has been intolerable. I insist she resign.

    Yours respectfully,

    – Spike Murphree
    Vice-Chair-at-Large, DPNM Veterans and Military Families Caucus
    Chair, BernCo Ward 22A

  2. I’m frankly shocked, SHOCKED to hear of potential conflicts of interest among our elected lawmakers! The very idea that a lawmaker might be influenced by their spouse in their voting is certainly a possibility and as such, anyone married to someone actually working in a given industry or government agency should be prevented from chairing a committee that has legislative responsibility impacting that industry or agency or voting on legislation with similar conflicts of interest.

    Of course, if the legislators themselves work in a given industry or in government, they should also probably be prevented from voting in similar situations. This is going to make it a little tough sometimes to get a quorum on certain committees, what with typically between 15-20 teachers in the house and senate not being able to vote on education issues (roughly half the state budget) and another 15-20 attorneys not being able to vote on legislation that may end up being the subject of litigation carried out by their practices (which could be practically any legislation) or the further 8-12 business people and consultants not being able to vote on any regulatory or subsidies/economic development issues and things start getting a little tight.

    Add in all those legislators married to teachers, attorneys or business people and in many cases, you might not have enough unconflicted legislators to get most legislation out of committee or to pass a budget. Guess we’ll need to go to an all retiree legislature to fix this…

    • With all due respect, there is a HUGE difference between being a prominent lobbyist for an industry and simply working in that industry. The former is paid to press any remotely plausible justification for protecting the industry they represent. The latter is paid to drill or transport oil,, not to become educated on the benefits of doing so. There is a huge difference in what a paid lobbyist might offer as advice and what a paid pipe fitter might offer. No disrespect to the pipe fitter intended.

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