SANTA FE – District Attorney Marco Serna, a candidate for Congress, sent out a fundraising email last week featuring a photograph of a beaming Serna shaking hands with former Española mayor Richard Lucero.
Such a photo normally would be unremarkable and standard procedure, showing a veteran politico supporting a younger candidate. Lucero served as mayor of Española off and on for 22 years between 1968 and 2006.
But Lucero has been in the news recently for something else. In lawsuits filed in July and October, he’s accused of raping young boys decades ago. Lucero and his lawyer have denied that he ever inappropriately touched or engaged in a sexual act with children.
Serna’s Dec. 5 fundraising email had a subject line that said, “We’re in this together.”
The email’s message says, “If you follow political news like me, it’s easy to feel like the world is falling apart.
“As your District Attorney, I see the dark parts of society every day – but I also see the good in our neighborhoods. We need to bring New Mexico values to Washington.”
Below those lines is the picture of Serna and Lucero, apparently taken in Lucero’s Country Farm Supply store in Española. Lucero is not identified in the email.
The email provides a link to make a “grassroots contribution” to Serna’s campaign for the U.S. House seat in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District and ends, “Best, Marco Serna.”
In response to Journal questions, JonCarlo Serna, the district attorney’s brother and campaign chair, said, “The email was sent out by a junior campaign staffer, who has been disciplined, without approval of management and the photo was taken before the allegations came to light. District Attorney Serna is extremely concerned about the allegations and has fought against sexual abuse his entire career.”
Lucero, in a telephone interview, said he is in fact supporting Serna for Congress and doesn’t mind if Serna used the picture of the two together for a political email. “He’s my cousin,” said Lucero. Another person on the phone call specified that the two are “distant” cousins.
Lucero said he and Serna didn’t discuss the recent lawsuits filed against the former mayor. “Don’t get into junk,” Lucero told a Journal reporter.
In the first lawsuit, a man now in his 40s maintains that Lucero began abusing him in the mid-1980s when as a child he worked for Lucero at the farm supply store.
In the more recent court complaint, the second alleged victim says Lucero drugged him and raped him multiple times when he was a boy starting in the late 1960s. Lucero first began “targeting” the boy while Lucero served in a leadership position in a Boy Scouts camp, and the alleged rapes took place on road trips away from Española, the suit alleges.
In Espanola, the grounds of the Richard L. Lucero Recreation Center include the public library and swimming pool.
Serna is part of a crowded field in the crucial Democratic primary for the 3rd District seat that also includes former CIA operative Valerie Plame, lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez, former deputy New Mexico secretary of state John Blair, state Rep. Joseph Sanchez, environmental attorney Kyle Tisdel, Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya and Gavin Kaiser of Santa Cruz.