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GOP legislator, party boss square off outside Bull Ring

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A shouting match between an Albuquerque Republican lawmaker and the new state GOP chairman outside a Santa Fe restaurant and bar this week prompted an exchange of sharply worded emails and a complaint to the party chairman’s boss.

Rep. Monica Youngblood

Rep. Monica Youngblood

Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, and state GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi, the two individuals involved, both declined to comment on the matter Thursday.

But emails between the two, which were obtained by the Journal, described the incident as a profanity-laced shouting match that was witnessed by other legislators. The emails also offer contrasting versions of who instigated the dispute.

Ryan Cangiolosi

Ryan Cangiolosi

Youngblood, in an email sent to Cangiolosi on the morning after the Tuesday evening incident, said she was still “disturbed” by it.

“I’d like some sort of explanation as to why the state party chairman would threaten or verbally curse at a Republican legislator who’s done nothing but support the RPNM and promote (the) New Mexico Republican party throughout the country,” Youngblood wrote.

She also said in her email that she had made it clear she did not want to talk to Cangiolosi but, “You insisted on following me out of the restaurant and engaging in a shouting match.”

Youngblood, a three-term lawmaker who represents a Northwest Albuquerque legislative district, said some legislators who witnessed the incident “felt I had to make sure I got home safe.”

In his email response sent later Wednesday, Cangiolosi described himself and Youngblood as longtime friends and expressed remorse the incident occurred.

He accused Youngblood, however, of initiating the argument at the Bull Ring restaurant, a popular spot for state lawmakers and lobbyists during legislative sessions, adding that she may have been upset over her House committee assignments.

“I was glad to see you, but was startled when you started swearing at me inside and outside the restaurant,” Cangiolosi wrote.

He also wrote that his alleged threat to Youngblood – conveyed via the words “just watch” – was actually a promise not to ask her for any political donations or help.

And he strongly disputed Youngblood’s allegation that he was intoxicated at the time of the incident, saying he did not have any alcoholic drinks at the restaurant.

Cangiolosi, who was elected state Republican Party chairman last month, also holds a high-profile position at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, where he is executive projects director.

A former state Health Department administrator who witnessed at least part of the Tuesday confrontation sent an email to the chancellor of the Health Sciences Center and members of the University of New Mexico Board of Regents that described Cangiolosi’s behavior as “unacceptable, threatening and inappropriate.”

In the message, James Ross, the former Health Department official, urged Dr. Paul Roth, UNM chancellor for health sciences, to “address this situation,” an apparent request for Cangiolosi to be disciplined.

However, Roth, in a statement provided to the Journal, said the incident had no bearing on Cangiolosi’s job.

“Mr. Cangiolosi was not there representing the University of New Mexico in any way,” Roth said. “He was on personal leave to attend meetings during the day.”

The Health Sciences Center provided a copy of the email sent by Ross at the Journal’s request.

Meanwhile, Rob Doughty, president of the UNM Board of Regents, said he couldn’t discuss the issue because it’s a personnel matter.

“I’ll share a copy once I have an opportunity to discuss with the Board of Regents,” he said Thursday, in reference to a request for the email.

Cangiolosi’s job prompted questions during his campaign for the state GOP chairmanship, and the Health Sciences Center said it would develop a conflict-of-interest “management plan” with Cangiolosi if he was elected to the post.

Meanwhile, there’s been ample infighting within the state Republican Party in recent years, and Cangiolosi is close with Harvey Yates Jr., a former state party chairman who has been critical in recent years of Gov. Susana Martinez’s governing style and her political adviser, Jay McCleskey.

Martinez appoints all members of the UNM Board of Regents.

Dan Boyd reported from Santa Fe, and Chris Quintana reported from Albuquerque.

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