Uncovering the truth: Who’s really behind Power The Future, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, and the Big Oil money driving New Mexico politics
In the era of big-money Political Action Committees (PACs) it can be difficult to know what messaging is coming from which candidate or PAC, which is the whole point really. As New Mexicans have begun early voting (we strongly encourage absentee voting!), there have been tons of ads and stories about the big money trying to influence voters of every stripe. And while one of the bigger stories seems to be the war being waged between the campaigns of two Republican candidates for New Mexico’s Second Congressional district, one key factor we found seems to be missing from those stories.
It’s been reported that a PAC called Citizens for a United New Mexico is associated with some big names in the oil business here in the state, specifically Butch Mathews. The same AP story also lists a “GOP operative” Charles Gantt as being associated with the PAC as “Custodian of Record” and states he works with a company called Bulldog Compliance, part of a larger company Red Curve Solutions.
But none of the stories here in New Mexico have dug into who Gantt really is, and why his involvement in New Mexico politics is something we take VERY seriously. Gantt’s name appears on dozens of public documents affiliated with hard-right PACs at both the national and local levels.
“Cowboys for Trump” leader uses anti-Native American expression to call for violence against political rivals
A disturbing video has been making its way around the internet since the beginning of the week, after some high-profile politicos in the state finally made statements, media stories have begun to appear about it, but most fail to call out some of the deeper and more sinister meaning behind it. Otero County Commissioner and “Cowboys for Trump” leader Couy Griffen said in a recent video that (and we are quoting this historically racist phrase, be warned) “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” That phrase, originally coined by Civil War general Philip Sheridan about Native Americans and made “popular” by Theodore Roosevelt, is clearly hate-speech and a dog whistle for white supremacists. Even IF you were unaware of the historical context, the call for political violence is clearly unacceptable but in line with Griffen’s brand of far-right, alt-right thuggery. Griffen’s Cowboy group have made something of a name for themselves riding their horses and dressing in costumes around the country in support of Trump but specifically showing up to support the most extreme far-right policies of his platform like vigilante groups along the southern border and bringing guns to the state capitol.
En medio de estos tiempos sin precedentes, queremos proporcionar un lugar para tener acceso a qué recursos están disponibles para continuar participando en nuestra democracia de la mejor manera posible. Una decisión reciente de la Corte Suprema de Nuevo México declaró que la votación en persona todavía debe ser una opción en las siguientes elecciones, por lo que la votación anticipada comenzará en persona el 5 de Mayo. Sin embargo, debido a que la mayoría de nuestras comunidades seguirán bajo órdenes de quedarse en casa debido a COVID-19, se puede votar en ausencia, una opción segura y fácil para continuar su distanciamiento social. En primer lugar, solicitar una boleta de votación en ausencia es una opción. ¡AHORA MISMO!
Earlier this year, Donald Trump announced that New Mexico was going to be a priority target state for his campaign in 2020. It was only a matter of time before we could expect well-connected out-of-state interests to meddle in our elections like they have been doing in other states across the nation. Enter the operatives: True the Vote and the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) are two shady, out-of-state political shops that pride themselves on suppressing votes for conservative gain. And they’re coordinating to suppress the vote here in New Mexico by instituting barriers at every step of the process.
True the Vote funds lawsuits to purge voter rolls and suppress mail-in ballot efforts while PILF acts as the right-wing legal accomplice that, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, often uses false information to justify their lawsuits. And it doesn’t stop there.
It’s hard to miss: social media posts, newspaper articles, TV news segments, emails, text messages, billboards… all directing residents to stay at home unless essential services are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. So why are anti-abortion extremists in New Mexico (and nationally) still gathering in front of medical facilities to harass women who are seeking reproductive care?
Extremists like Right to Life New Mexico, 40 Days for Life New Mexico, the Sidewalk Advocates for Life and Abortion Free New Mexico mock the severity of the COVID-19 global pandemic with their actions which, ironically, endanger their own lives and the lives of their members, in addition to clinic patients. Amid this global pandemic, these groups are seen gathering to harass women who are seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive healthcare at local clinics.
To the detriment of their members, these extremist groups are deliberately misleading their followers, spreading dangerously false information that “we’re close to a cure” for COVID-19 (See graphic below), endangering the lives of their members, the families that live with them and the public they subsequently interact with. The apparent “right to life” groups seem to have a blatant disregard for the living.
It’s no surprise that extremist marching orders seem to be coming from Donald Trump, who, despite his own advisors warning the public about the severity of the pandemic, continues a drumbeat that underplays the severity of the outbreak here in the United States.
But anti-abortion groups are no stranger to blocking access to healthcare, no matter the cost to human lives. Alongside a history of violence and bombings at abortion clinics, the exploitation of COVID-19 is one of the many disgusting and opportunistic actions this “movement” has engaged in- from the national level, all the way down to our neighborhoods.
In case you missed it, here are some more recent examples:
At the national level, anti-abortion lawmakers snuck dangerous anti-abortion language into the coronavirus bill.In several states across the U.S. anti-abortion lawmakers have deemed abortion as non-essential, endangering the lives of women across their state who are seeking medical care.
For any one of us who has been a survivor of rape, molestation, sexual harassment or domestic violence, we have been told over and over that these forms of abuse take place because the abuser wants to assert power and control over our bodies. Across the United States, there is an epidemic of politicians, governments and extremists who are trying to assert power and control over our bodies by means of banning abortion- a personal decision that should always remain between a person and their doctor. By taking away our personal decision-making abilities, we are being stripped of respect, and being stripped of autonomy. Anti-abortion extremists spend millions of dollars to shame, pressure, punish and harass us- proving that their interest is not about morals or religion: it’s about power and control. New Mexico has an old abortion ban on the books.
Sometimes, finding all the voting information you need in one place is hard! Look no further, friends! ProgressNow NM is here for you every step of the way- from early voting and same-day registration to Election Day and voting locations. See below for a one-and-done guide to getting your vote on! Important Dates (Statewide)
October 8- Absentee Ballots MailedOctober 8- November 2- Statewide in-person registration and early voting at County Clerk’s Offices, 8am-5pm.October 19-November 2- Statewide expanded early voting.
ABOVE: Copy of the ProgressNow NM Press Release Regarding the Recent PRC Decision on the San Juan Abandonment
Yep, you read the headline right. This week, GOP Staffer, Stella Padilla, added to her own barrage of hate-fueled social media posts with a new image depicting deceased Civil War soldiers, the text above it reading: Over 620,000 White People Died to Free Black Slaves And Still To This Day Not Even 1 Thank You. (See below for original post and enlarged, *graphic* image.)
This is the same GOP contractor who sought to exploit the conditions in which asylum seekers were going to be housed in Albuquerque. After trespassing, she and GOP side-kick Dinah Vargas were kicked off the closed campus for unauthorized filming. You would think that the GOP-which has incessantly beaten the drum on Real ID initiatives, and is obsessed with people’s birth certificates would have done their due diligence to vet a prospective employee.
It’s late spring in New Mexico and everything is sprouting, even new dark money funded pro energy groups. One called “Power the Future” just cropped up and hired a recycled Susana Martinez political operative as their New Mexico lead in an attempt to hide their east coast home base. But don’t worry, we have pulled the weeds on this one to show you where their roots and branches really lead. It’s not pretty. The oil and gas industry and the heavily funded political arms they control are springing forward with aggression and are using this time in New Mexico to try and stir the pot and sow seeds of discord when it comes to the huge progress we’ve made by passing the Energy Transition Act, moving toward stronger statewide oil and gas regulations and other efforts to promote a cleaner energy future under Governor Lujan Grisham.