Nate Gentry is one of the State House’s most powerful, and partisan, Republicans. He spent the better part of this year raising and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to elect a Republican majority in the legislature.
That usually doesn’t earn you many friends across the aisle; but Nate Gentry has never been one to follow the rules.
Tommy Rodella isn’t known for following the rules, either. He’s the now former Rio Arriba County Sheriff convicted by a federal jury last month of civil rights violations for chasing down a young Hispanic man and threatening him with a gun.
But before he was sent to prison, the FBI was investigating him for soliciting donations for his personal scholarship fund in exchange for dismissing traffic tickets.
A quick look at legislative records shows that while Rodella was accused of abusing employees and shaking down motorists, he was teaming up with a state legislator to send more of our state taxpayer dollars back to Rodella.
Rodella’s best friend wasn’t his wife – a state representative from his own county – but a state representative from a district an hour and a half from Rio Arriba County: Albuquerque’s own Nate Gentry.
In 2014, Gentry used his own capitol outlay capacity to request $300,000 to beef up Sheriff Tommy Rodella’s agenda:And that’s not all. Gentry’s has worked to be Rodella’s benefactor for years. In 2013, he asked for $181,000 more for Rodella’s department: Gentry didn’t take an interest in Rio Arriba County until after Rodella was elected in 2010. Since then, Gentry and Rodella have teamed up to request almost half-a-million dollars of taxpayer funds into Rodella’s department coffers.
Those public capitol outlay requests are eventually whittled down into a larger bill where low-priority projects often end up left aside. But legislative records show that Gentry thought helping Rodella was so important, he kept both requests for Rodella in his final 2014 request (HB55, p. 120).
Governor Martinez later line-item vetoed both of them. Apparently even she couldn’t stomach Gentry and Rodella’s big plan.
Sidebar: Rodella isn’t any stranger to poaching allegations, either. Like Gentry, he was charged with unlawful hunting violations in the past:
The Rio Grande Sunthrough the years has run stories documenting an internal affairs investigation that concluded he had used his position as an officer to fix traffic tickets to help his wife’s 1992 legislative race. The Sun also reported he was arrested and fined by Jicarilla Apache Nation game and fish officers for shooting at a decoy deer from a vehicle. – Santa Fe New Mexican, Aug. 2014