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Politics Notebook: Another Dem gives up prison firm’s donation

SANTA FE – Another New Mexico Democrat is giving up campaign contributions from a private prison company that operates immigrant detention centers and private correctional facilities across the country.

State Rep. Rodolpho “Rudy” Martinez of Bayard announced Tuesday he has returned a $250 contribution from GEO Group.

He said he wishes he had not initially accepted the contribution, in September, but felt compelled to return it amid a national debate over immigration policy.

“The GEO Group stands to make millions off the suffering of children while separating families,” said Martinez, whose father was an immigrant from Mexico. “I want to send a message that any PAC or organization who supports ripping families apart is not welcome on my campaign.”

Other Democrats, including Attorney General Hector Balderas, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, said earlier this week that they would make charitable donations in the amounts they received as campaign contributions from two different private prison companies.

GEO Group has for years operated several private prisons and related facilities in New Mexico, while CoreCivic runs a private prison and a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Cibola County.

TAIWAN TIP: New Mexicans who visit Taiwan can now use their driver’s licenses without fear of legal repercussions.

That’s because Gov. Susana Martinez, who is on a weeklong visit to Taiwan, signed a reciprocity agreement with a senior Taiwanese official that makes New Mexico the 26th state with such a deal in place, according to Taiwan News.

The Governor’s Office has not provided details about Martinez’s trip, but Taiwanese media have reported the governor and her delegation are meeting with government ministers and Taiwanese business leaders.

China has long claimed Taiwan as its own, but the island off mainland China has been ruled separately for more than 60 years. The U.S. Congress passed legislation earlier this year seeking an increase in diplomatic visits with Taiwan.

Martinez is scheduled to return to New Mexico on Saturday.

Dan Boyd: