ProgressNow Discovers Dona Ana & Otero County Rep is Representing a District Where He Doesn’t Even Live
Now he is seeking re-election there
UPDATE (4/11/12): Today, Rep. Ricky Little will be in a Doña Ana County District Court room to explain how it is that he has “resided” on a commerical property that is not permitted for residential use. Check back with us throughout the day (here as well as on Twitter and Facebook) for updates about this developing story.
Also, check out this recent news story by KVIA ABC-7 on Rep. Little’s sticky situation.
UPDATE (4/2/12): This afternoon, KSFR’s Bill Dupuy interviewed Rep. Little about this potentially damaging situation and the southern New Mexico representative seemed a little…unsure…about the status of his residency when Mr. Dupuy pressed him on the issue. Pat Davis, Executive Director of Progress Now New Mexico, was also interviewed by Mr. Dupuy. Listen to the KSFR interview here — the interview begins at the 7:20 mark.
You can also read Matthew Reichbach’s continuing coverage of this story at the New Mexico Telegram here.
UPDATE (4/3/12): Though Rep. Little has yet to deny the facts we uncovered about his mis-representation of District 53 for the past two years (i.e. his business address cannot be legally claimed as a residential address and thus he cannot represent a district where he doesn’t actually reside), he sure is getting practiced at the art of GOP spin.
Listen to Rep. Little on KSFR in the link above and then read his comments in the variety of news reports that were released yesterday to see how his story evolves, and then judge for yourself. (links below)
Heath Haussamen (NMpolitics.net): http://bit.ly/H6yTZu
Doña Ana Democratic Party: http://bit.ly/HilW0V
Grassroots Press: http://bit.ly/HiwVGU
News New Mexico: http://bit.ly/Hc6c12
Capitol Report NM: http://bit.ly/H6ziLe
View the documents for yourself
He claims to live here:
But, he’s really living here:
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|Like another New Mexico candidate uncovered by ProgressNow New Mexico last week, State Representative Ricky Little (R-Chaparral) has serious residency problems in his bid for re-election to District 53.
Though both Little’s voter registration and declaration for candidacy list his permanent residence as 305 Mesilla View in Dona Ana County precinct 75, public property and business records show that the property contains only “vacant land” and the commercial and “non-residential” property serving as the office for his house moving business. Little himself even lists the property, as well as the phone number for his campaign, as his business address as a member of a Texas professional association.
Little and his family actually live miles away in precinct 74 at 2301 Nike Air Road, which county property records confirm as Little’s 4-bedroom, 3-bath $307,000 residential property co-owned with his wife Cecelia.
While New Mexico law may allow person to register to vote at a location where they have established residency and intend to return, property records show that Little’s commercial property contains no residential structures and is not permitted for residential use.
Further, New Mexico’s election laws provide very different standards for determining residency for voters and candidates for office. The law (NMSA 1-1-7.1) requires that candidates may run for office at a location where they are registered to vote, “…provided the person resides on the premises.”
The law prescribes these additional requirements for candidates for office to ensure that representatives of the people actually know the people they represent.
Under new district boundaries established this year during redistricting, both precincts 74 and 75 are now within District 53. However, since Little filed his declaration of candidacy for re-election based on his claim to live at his commercial business, experts tell us he is still in violation of New Mexico election laws.
But, he’s been serving for years
In what may be a bigger problem for Little, precinct 74 (where he actually resides) was located in State House District 52 when he ran in 2010. Since winning election, he has represented District 53 in the legislature though he does not reside there.
“This is a fraud against voters on a monumental scale. Ricky Little’s standing as a state representative has been illegitimate for two-years,” says Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico.
We are not aware of any other state representative’s qualifications for office being questioned after they have already served a full term, but these facts raise some serious questions about the legitimacy of Little’s votes in the House since 2010 and whether Little broke any House ethics rules in the process.
Little’s race served as a template for GOP takeover
Since declaring his first candidacy for the State House of Representatives from Governor Martinez’s home county in 2010, the state Republican Party poured thousands of dollars into Little’s race.
The 2010 race for District 53 was widely seen as a GOP priority to retake a traditionally conservative district. But, taking the seat from incumbent progressive Democrat Nate Cote didn’t come cheap.
Campaign finance reports show that the party poured more than $13,000, including a $500 personal donation from GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, into Little’s 2010 race to represent a district where he did not live.
“There are serious questions about the way the new GOP is recruiting and funding candidates to run in races statewide. Everyone from the governor to the chairman have been very public with their overzealous plans
Campaign Finance Reports also questioned
A review of Little’s campaign finance reports show another problem: Little lists his actual residence on Nike Air Road as “other real estate” and “land” while listing his business as his physical residential address. New Mexico’s ethics laws are very particular about finance disclosures.
If Little intentionally misrepresented his real estate holdings as well as his residency, he may have also violated state finance laws. The Secretary of State, who was the former county clerk in Otero County where part of District 53 lies, is responsible for enforcement.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to see a pattern.
Conservatives talk a lot about voter fraud to distract us from their own dirty deeds. But, we aren’t fooled.
I remember just two weeks ago when we reported that another GOP state house candidate claimed to live in a house still under construction in order represent a district where he did not live. And just before that, we connected right-wing US Senate candidate Heather Wilson’s senior staff to a scheme to register the family dog to vote.
ProgressNow NM’s investigations into both of those schemes led to criminal investigations still underway.
Conservatives poured tens-of-thousands of dollars into Little’s election in 2010, including more than $13K from the state party and GOP state party chairman. Now they are trying to get him re-elected in a district where he doesn’t even live!
Where do we go from here?
Because District 53 lies in more than one county, ProgressNow New Mexico has requested that the Secretary of State initiate an investigation into Little’s qualifications for candidacy in 2012, as well as illegitimate status as a candidate and legislator since 2010.
If the Secretary of State (formerly a state legislator and Otero County clerk) follows the example of the Bernalilo County Clerk, she’ll likely launch an inquiry and ask law enforcement to step in. Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando is the obvious choice, but not for certain since both Duran and Orlando are Republican leaders in the same counties Little currently represents.
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