“Why I only got a problem when you in the hood?” -Kanye West, The Good Life
That was the theme of last week’s Bernalillo County Commission meeting when several commissioners threw a bizarre curveball at what should have been an otherwise homerun for democracy in Albuquerque and eventually statewide. In the preceding months, over 28,000 Burqueños had signed a petition to put the ABQ Democracy Dollars initiative on the November ballot and organizers had followed the process “to a T.” Excitement about the campaign was buzzing and on the night of the hearing, supporters packed the commission chambers.
Only one individual showed up to oppose the measure – attorney Pat Rogers.
But that’s when Commissioners Steven Michael Quezada and Jim Smith, along with the help of County Attorney Kenny Martinez (formerly NM State House Speaker), performed a charade of question and answer about the initiative’s content (kinda like the mailman debating whether to deliver the shirt you ordered because it’s not his style) – and ultimately blocked the initiative (2-2).
So who is Pat Roger’s and how did his presence relate?
Let’s take a step back. Pat Rogers has a long history in New Mexico of voter suppression and legal efforts to muck up the campaigns of progressive candidates for public office. He’s the former Republican national committeeman who hired a private investigator to harass legal Latino voters in 2008. And, in 2012, he was forced to resign from his law firm because of white supremacist comments he made against Native Americans.
Even David Williams, a prominent Republican Party leader once said that Governor Martinez” needed to cut ties with people like Rogers and McCleskey in order to keep her promise of a transparent government.” That never happened. Throughout Martinez’ 8 years as governor, McClesky has been known as “the shadow governor” or the “5th Floor” (the Governor’s office is on the 4th floor).
And more recently, the Santolina development has signed on Rogers to represent its ongoing quest for giant tax giveaways. Santolina, you might remember spent massively in independent expenditures in favor of Steven Michael Quezada, against Mayor Tim Keller as a candidate, and against candidates running against their preferred incumbents on the City Council.
And that’s just the beginning! Over the next few days, ProgressNow New Mexico is going to be taking a closer look Pat Rogers and this myriad of connections that obstruct game-changing policy in our community like ABQ Democracy Dollars. Stay tuned! #StayTuned