Republicans defend electors, said SOS knew of plans - Albuquerque Journal

Republicans defend electors, said SOS knew of plans

The Roundhouse in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico Republicans are rallying around their electors, who submitted a certificate that aimed to award the state’s five electoral votes to Donald Trump instead of President Joe Biden, saying the matter is being “hyped up” by the media and there was nothing illegal or sinister about the act – amid the state attorney general’s ongoing review of the matter.

A statement from the Republican Party of New Mexico last week said five New Mexico Republicans signed and submitted the certificate just in case “it might later be determined” they were the rightful electors. The statement also said an “elector representative” had a conversation with Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Dec. 14, 2020, prior to the certificate being officially submitted. State GOP officials called on the secretary to publicly release details about the conversation.

“The electors were not fake or fraudulent,” said the statement, which was released by state GOP spokesman Mike Curtis. “They were casting votes in the event that standing legal challenges prevailed and changed the outcome of the election.”

New Mexico Republicans after the 2020 election joined GOP electors from several others states that Biden won who submitted certificates attempting to award the electoral votes to Trump. Last month, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said his office is reviewing the case under state law and has referred the matter to federal agencies as well.

Alex Curtas, a spokesman for Toulouse Oliver, said the only conversation Toulouse Oliver had with Republicans about the electors was a text exchange on Dec. 14, 2020, with Anissa Ford-Tinnin, a former executive director of the state Republican Party and one of the five Republican electors who signed the document.

Curtas said Ford-Tinnin asked that the GOP electors be allowed into a meeting at the state Capitol that day, when the state’s electoral votes were awarded to Biden.

Curtas said Toulouse Oliver texted Ford-Tinnin that the group couldn’t enter the building and that was the end of the conversation.

“It seems (New Mexico Republicans) are implying that Maggie (Toulouse Oliver) gave them some sort of go-ahead or permission (to send in the certificate), and that is absolutely not the case,” Curtas said.

Curtis declined to elaborate further on the conversation between a party official and the secretary of state.

“We stand by our statement,” he said.

‘ALBUQUERQUE HAS SUFFERED ENOUGH’: Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., is weighing in on the issues in her recently reconfigured district, saying it’s “past time to end this consent decree and remove this burden from the city of Albuquerque and the Albuquerque Police Department” and wind down a yearslong police reform effort.

The Albuquerque Police Department is in the middle of the reform effort brought on by a Department of Justice investigation that concluded in 2014 the APD had a pattern of using excessive force, which included police shootings. The findings have led to a lengthy court case where APD’s progress with agreed-upon reforms is tracked by an independent monitoring team that reports to a federal judge.

Herrell said in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland last week that the reform process is costly to taxpayers, ineffective, strains officers and has been a contributing factor in rising crime rates in Albuquerque. The city set a record for homicides in 2021 and legislation aimed at fighting crime is being debated at the Roundhouse during an ongoing legislative session.

But Herrell suggested the DOJ-reform effort is souring police officers to the job and a contributing factor to rising crime.

“They do little to weed out bad actors yet place undue burdens on those who … are best able to reduce crime in our cities,” she said. “Albuquerque has suffered enough.”

She said Albuquerque is entitled to a termination hearing.

Herrell, the state’s lone Republican in Congress, was elected to represent a district that included most of southern New Mexico. But after redistricting, her district in the 2022 election will include large sections of Albuquerque’s West Side and the southwest part of the city.

Ryan Boetel: rboetel@abqjournal.com

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