Federal judge: Hold Martinez anti-poverty chief in contempt for failing to help poor, hungry

Staff “pled the 5th” almost 100 times to protect themselves from criminal prosecution
Federal judge recommends Gov’s top anti-poverty chief be held in contempt of court
Hundreds of neediest go without food stamps because staff doctored applications to deny them
Gov’s Human Services Dept. missed deadline to investigate and solve problem on their own
“Gov. [Susana] Martinez and her administration are completely out of touch with what is going on at the kitchen tables in New Mexico”

More than a month after a parade staffers from the state’s agency responsible for helping the poor and hungry “pled the 5th” almost 100 times in Federal court, a federal magistrate judge recommends that the governor’s top anti-poverty appointee be held in contempt of court for failing to follow court orders to stop improperly denying aid to poor and hungry residents of the state. A Federal magistrate judge hearing claims that the state’s Human Services Department staff doctored emergency food stamp applications to illegally deny the state’s poorest residents aid had enough on Monday and recommended that a Federal District Judge hold the Secretary Brent Earnest in contempt of court and appoint a federal monitor to oversee the department. “It is apparent that HSD and its officials have not exhibited the leadership, oversight, or coordination necessary to implement the Court Orders,” Magistrate Carmen Garza wrote in her opinion Monday. The state’s problems administering aid to the poor in one of the country’s most impoverished states is well documented, but a sharp escalation in tactics to turn away the needy in recent years apparently prompted the NM Center for Law & Poverty to seek court intervention earlier this year.

Trump: Susana Martinez “not doing the job”

Donald Trump’s first New Mexico rally is making headlines this morning.  After peaceful protesters packed up their signs and headed to early voting locations, Donald Trump took the stage and gave his own impressions of New Mexico and the governor in charge. Trump:
Since 2000 the number of people on food stamps in New Mexico has tripled. We have to get your governor to get going. She has to do a better job.

Under oath, state employees say Martinez officials ordered them to change papers to deny food stamps to hungry, poor

“In a scene of high drama reminiscent of the TV drama “Law and Order,” three prominent state Human Services Department officials invoked their fifth amendment rights nearly 100 times in federal court Friday afternoon…” A huge new scandal – this time with potential criminal implications – erupted in a Las Cruces courtroom on Friday as a series of Martinez administration officials refused to answer questions under oath in federal court about whether they were directed to change food stamp applications to deny help to children, families and seniors out of food and out of help. Under oath in the civil hearing, they had two choices: say it didn’t happen or avoid answering the question by admitting that doing so might implicate them in criminal fraud or other actions. We know Governor Martinez doesn’t get it and, quite frankly, too many New Mexicans give her a pass on decisions that put struggling families farther and farther behind. We’re not letting that happen again. 
This story has been blowing up our Facebook and website since it was first reported by the NM Political Report, so I came in on a Saturday to get an update and share with our members.

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ABORTION COVERAGE IN HEALTH LAW: Voting 227 for and 188 against, the House on Jan. 28 passed a Republican bill (HR 7) that would ban subsidized insurance policies that cover abortion from the Affordable Care Act’s state and federal marketplaces. The bill would prohibit any use of federal funds, including tax credits, to subsidize premiums for such policies. Critics call this an overreach because the ACA already requires policyholders to pay the premium share that applies to reproductive services. But backers said the “separate payment” requirement is being widely disregarded.