Senators join Domestic Violence advocates in demand for Gov to return big bucks taken from domestic abuser

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The New Mexico In Depth made news last week that Republican donors around the country were returning or donating hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in campaign donations received from a domestic abuser.  Not surprisingly, domestic violence victims and advocates demanded Governor Martinez and Republican Super PACs do the same.
Today, state senators joined the call for Governor Martinez to follow suit:
Leaders of New Mexico’s Domestic Violence Community Continue Drumbeat:
Governor Susana Martinez Must Give Abuser’s $120,000 Contribution to DV Shelters
Santa Fe, NM – Leaders of New Mexico’s domestic violence community continued to call today for Governor Susana Martinez to donate the $120,000 of campaign contributions she accepted from convicted batterer Marcus Hiles to abuse victims programs and shelters. Senator Linda M. Lopez (D-11-Bernalillo), the author of many of the state’s laws to protect victims and survivors of domestic abuse, spoke out in the State Capitol about the Gov.’s refusal to hear advocates’ plea.  Lopez questioned whether it is ethical to not donate Hiles’ campaign contributions to programs and groups that help women and their children who are victims of violence.

State Sen. Linda Lopez (D-Bernalillo)

“It is ethically wrong and also hypocritical of Governor Martinez to keep this vicious abuser’s money.  Frankly, she ought to be too ashamed to keep it,” said Sen. Lopez. “Just this week, senators voted unanimously in support of my bill that puts strong new protections in place for women who are victims of violence.   But all we heard from Governor Martinez is that she is keeping the money from abuser Marcus Hiles.  That is callous disregard for our concerns.  When we in the Senate rejected her unqualified political ally, Matt Chandler, for an appointment to the UNM Board of Regents recently, she called the decision ‘extreme’, ‘disgusting and pathetic’, and said it was ‘despicable politics at its worst’.  Governor Martinez has no such outrage for a terrible and violent perpetrator who beats women.  Her inaction on returning these campaign funds is truly despicable politics at its worst. That man is the top contributor to her PAC and a valued supporter whose contributions she is keeping.”

Gov. Martinez’s response to the recent news of Marcus Hiles 2013 conviction for domestic violence stands in stark contrast to that of neighboring Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.   They immediately announced last month that they are donating a combined $702,600 — the amount the Texas developer Marcus Hiles gave to their 2014 campaign — to services for abuse victims throughout Texas.
Hiles choked a nightclub dancer in October, 2012 – long before he gave Gov. Martinez $120,000 –  after the two had been out drinking, and began to fight in a cab on the way to the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, according to news reports.  Hiles then was captured on a security camera punching the woman in the hotel, throwing her to the ground on an elevator, and stomping on her cellphone.  The woman told police that Hiles later choked her to unconsciousness in their hotel room.
Gov. Martinez said through her spokesman that she did not know about the donor’s criminal history when she accepted the donations. She will not return the $120,000, or alternately give it to domestic violence programs or shelters, because “the campaign has long since ended, and you can’t return money that’s already been spent.” [Albuquerque Journal. 3/16/15]
However, last summer when her Democratic opponent Gary King returned $35,000 in campaign contributions he received from the convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, Gov. Martinez referred to Epstein as King’s “largest donor”, and had this to say:
“I certainly think you would know where your money comes from… and it just so happens to be a sex offender.” [Santa Fe New Mexican 9/9/14]
On Tuesday the Senate passed unanimously Senate Bill 660 (SB 660), sponsored by Sen. Linda Lopez. The legislation permanently prohibits those convicted of a domestic abuse crime from having contact with their victims as a condition of their probation or parole.  Currently, domestic abuse victims must deal with their violators face-to-face in the courts for hearings; this bill also allows them to appear at hearings telephonically or have a representative present.  Sen. Lopez calls on the Governor to make sure this bill is enacted into law.
On Wednesday women’s and community groups called on Gov. Martinez to donate the $120,000 from Hiles to DV programs and shelters in New Mexico.  The groups include Strong Families NM, Ending Gender Based Violence Taskforce, Tewa Women United, One Billion Rising Santa Fe, and the NM Forum for Youth in Community.
Several domestic violence victims and advocates also released a statement:

“We call on Gov. Susana Martinez to donate the campaign contributions she received from woman-batterer Marcus Hiles to domestic violence programs in rural New Mexico.  Domestic violence services in rural communities are extremely under resourced; the $120,000 the Governor’s political election organizations accepted from him will go a long way to help organizations that provide much needed services for women and their children experiencing domestic violence.  Domestic Violence organizations in rural communities perform vital services in some of our most vulnerable communities, but they are very strapped for resources.  We urge Governor Martinez to reconcile this tainted campaign donation and show that she cares deeply about survivors as she has frequently said in the past. Texas Governor Abbott and Lt. Governor Patrick did the right thing: they immediately gave all $702,000 of donations they received from Marcus Hiles to abuse victim programs in Texas.  We say to Gov. Martinez: please, keep your promise and don’t put money before women.  Spending this man’s money was unjustifiable, donating his money back to services in rural New Mexico provides a way for the Governor to “do the right thing”  Everyone agrees that it shouldn’t hurt to be a woman.” Adriann Barboa, Strong Families, Ending Gender Based Violence Taskforce.

Adriann Barboa, Strong Families NM, Ending Gender Based Violence Taskforce
Corrine Sanchez, Executive Director, Tewa Women United
Cecile Lipworth, One Billion Rising Santa Fe
Anna Nelson, LISW, Executive Director, NM Forum for Youth in Community

Strong Families NM, Ending Gender Based Taskforce is 12 community based organizations working together to increase the impact of our work to End Gender Based Violence in all our communities across the state of New Mexico.