LAS CRUCES – State Rep.-elect Phillip Archuleta has not yet taken office, but he already is feeling some heat with the posting of a YouTube video showing him flipping his middle finger at an opponent’s campaign worker on Election Day.
In the two-minute-long video posted to YouTube on Friday, Archuleta, a 63-year-old Democrat who won elective office for the first time, told the young man shooting the footage to “get that camera out of my face” or “I’m going to take it off and stick it up your butt.”
“Aw, come on,” the unidentified photographer can be heard saying. “That’s not appropriate.”
Watch the video of the incident with Phillip Archuleta
Archuleta, a former administrator with the state Department of Workforce Solutions, said he felt provoked by the young man who was photographing him as he visited a polling station at Mayfield High School on the evening of Nov. 6. In the video, Archuleta can be seen sitting behind the steering wheel of his car yelling at the photographer.
Archuleta said he regretted his actions.
“I should have been more professional. I regret it and I apologize about it,” Archuleta said Monday.
Archuleta won the District 36 House seat by defeating the incumbent, Hatch resident Andy Nunez, a former Democrat running as an Independent, and Republican candidate Mike Tellez.
The video was posted to YouTube by the New Mexico Business Coalition, a 501(c)4 nonprofit described by Albuquerque-based spokesman Larry Sonntag as a “social welfare” organization that engages in voter education efforts.
Its website says it “works to educate New Mexicans on pro-business principles,” and it was represented on the “Obama’s Failing Agenda” bus tour sponsored by the conservative Americans for Prosperity organization.
Sonntag refused to identify the young man who shot the video, described as a college student on the YouTube posting.
Archuleta and the young man first encountered each other earlier in the afternoon of Nov. 6 when Archuleta visited the voting center. The young man, Archuleta said, was holding campaign material for his opponent, Nunez.
Archuleta said that during the first encounter, he objected to the Nunez supporter taking photos of him. Asked why he objected, Archuleta said Monday: “What right does he have to take pictures of me? He wasn’t a reporter, he’s not one of my campaigners, and I think he was trying to provoke me.”
Archuleta in an interview with the Journal acknowledged that the young man did not stick the camera inside of his vehicle and that the photographer was on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Archuleta said he now wants to focus on getting ready for the upcoming legislative session.
“That day, it was a long day and I just fell into the trap,” Archuleta said. “I know as an elected official, you have to be careful, because someone’s always trying to hurt you. Right now, my only concern is to go to Santa Fe and work hard for my constituents.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal