I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
PRC Comissioner Block fails drug test, Danny Maki way ahead in funding
This past Friday, former Public Regulation Commission member Jerome Block Jr. showed up for a mandatory meeting with his Adult Drug Court administrator in Santa Fe’s First Judicial District courthouse only to fail his mandated drug test. As a result, he was remanded into custody at the county jail. Within a few hours, campaign-finance figures for three of the 88 declared candidates were released.
The frontrunner, by far, is Danny Maki, son of the well-known lobbyist and former Bill Richardson aide Butch Maki who also worked for the PRC when Congressman Ben Ray Lujan sat on the commission. Maki has dwarfed the fundraising efforts of two of his foes, outpacing Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza and banker Brad Gallegos by a count of $12,000 versus their respective takes of $1,712 and $1,693.
Two of Maki’s major contributors are Moses Mercado and Amador Dean Aguillen, both of whom work for the Washington D.C. lobbying firm Ogilvy Government Relations, whose clients include telecommunications Verizon and T-Mobile. Another $500 contributor is Stephen Crout, a former Richardson aide and a lobbyist for the San Diego-based telecommunicatios company Qualcomm. In addition to regulating the rates and service of electric, gas, water, and wastewater utilities throughout the state, the PRC also oversees the rates and service of telecommunications companies.
Maki says he’s eschewing use of the $40,000 in public funds and relying instead on privately raised capital due to the July ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down part of an Arizona public financing law allowing for “matching funds” for publicly funded candidates outspent by opponents not using public campaign money.
As for Block, the 34-year-old blamed his failed urine test on a technicality, but did not specify what that technicality was.
State Attorney General Gary King said afterward: “This is obviously not a good start toward honoring his commitment to successfully complete drug court under terms of his plea agreement with the state.”
On September 28, Block pled guilty to various felonies (credit-card fraud, identity theft), in exchange for which he could avoid jail time if he successfully completed the drug rehab program, which often takes 12 to 18 months. He was released Saturday morning and is scheduled to appear in court again later this week.