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An Obsessive and Frightening Zeal

Gov. Susana Martinez

By Tracy Dingmann

As the 60-day legislative session winds to a close and Gov. Susana Martinez completes her first few months in office, the people of New Mexico still lack a coherent plan from the executive-in-chief to generate jobs and stimulate the economy.

What New Mexicans DO have from Gov. Martinez is a solid, three-point plan to persecute undocumented immigrants.

She’s been working overtime on that.

Today’s Albuquerque Journal detailed the Governor’s plan to give Secretary of State Dianna Duran a list of New Mexico driver’s licenses issued to foreign nationals so they can be cross-checked against the state’s voter registration rolls.

Never Mind!

Never mind that Gov. Bill Richardson rejected a similar request from the Republican Party of New Mexico in 2006 because of the outrageous breach of state federal and privacy laws it represented.

Never mind that the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld an initial judicial ruling on Richardson’s decision in the face of a Republican Party’s lawsuit over the matter, saying claiming state and federal privacy laws outweigh public records arguments when it come to sharing those kinds of records.

Never mind, because last week, Gov. Martinez brokered a deal between the state Motor Vehicle Division, the Secretary of State AND the New Mexico Republican Party of New Mexico to do just that.

From the Journal story, here is justification of the move, from Martinez spokesman (and former Republican Party of New Mexico communication director) Scott Darnell:

“The agreement does not violate federal and state privacy laws because the MVD records are allowed to be provided to another government agency to carry out that agency’s functions.”

The case has just now landed at the New Mexico Supreme Court. I wonder how Darnell’s explanation will hold up there.

An Obsessive and Frightening Zeal

In the face of pressing matters like jobs and the economy, acting against immigrants is a mission Gov. Martinez has taken on with an increasingly obsessive and frightening zeal. This latest movida is her third such action in three short months.

Let’s review:

Weeks into her term, Gov. Martinez issued an executive order that mirrors Arizona’s discriminatory law, instructing state police to collaborate with immigration officials and to question the status of anyone “suspected” of a crime.

Throughout the session, Gov. Martinez targeted licenses for immigrants and forced the legislature to spend hours debating a program that’s made our roads safer since 2003.

Now, she’s on a witch-hunt hoping to show that immigrants are registering to vote and committing voter fraud. This is apparently a high priority for her administration, despite the fact that countless investigations into allegations of voter fraud in New Mexico have turned up nothing.

The Economy? Not a Priority

In her first few months of leadership, Gov. Martinez’s priorities for leading New Mexico have emerged, crystal clear: Prosecute and persecute immigrants, at the expense of spending valuable time coming up with jobs and aiding the economy for the rest of the state.

This latest stunt will almost certainly prompt a lawsuit, which the taxpayers will be forced to pay for.

Supreme Court already said it was wrong. It will probably yield few results. But she’s doing it anyway.

She’s taking a big risk.

It’s time to start asking her why.

(CORRECTION: The NM Court of Appeals ruled on the case and upheld Richardson’s decision. The Supreme Court is currently hearing the case but has not yet ruled.)

4 thoughts on “An Obsessive and Frightening Zeal

  1. Here’s how they could find what look like illegal voters but aren’t: Several hundred New Mexicans a month become citizens at a ceremony in Albuquerque. The League of Women Voters gives each one a voter registration form and points them to the County Clerk’s table to assist them and take the completed forms. Most of them have probably used their Social Security Numbers legally to get a Drivers License, which has to be renewed every 8 years. How many of them go to the trouble and expense of renewing their Drivers Licenses early now that they are citizens? It wouldn’t look or act any different than the one they have. As far as I know they are not required or encouraged to do this.

  2. I forgot to say that the current NM Secretary of State, Dianna Duran, says there is a “Motor Vehicle Foreign National Database” that they are comparing to the list of Registered voters. This is after first finding all the matches (over 900,000) between the list of registered voters and the entire drivers license database. For matching, she says they used first name, date of birth, and ZIP code. Listen to her explain how it got them 117 names, at KUNM’s Government blog: http://kunmgov.org/blog/2011/03/15/sos-duran-how-we-got-the-list-of-37-possible-cases-of-voter-fraud/

  3. I’m confused. Which lawsuit just landed in the state supreme court, and which one did the supreme court already say was wrong? I’m mixed up on the timelines of the current issue & the Richardson-era case.

  4. Aha, Jon, you caught an error in my piece. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the case. It was the NM Court of Appeals that already ruled and said it was wrong. I will correct, thanks!