Democratic Party Politics: Senator Tim Keller

By: Bill Whaley
22 September, 2013

On Saturday Taos democrats Rena Rosequist and Billy Knight hosted an introductory get-together for Senator Tim Keller, a democrat from Albuquerque, who has declared his intention of running for state auditor. The current state auditor, democrat Hector Balderas, is reportedly running for Attorney General. The current attorney general, democrat Gary King, is expected to run for Governor against incumbent Susana Martinez. Keller himself, a member of the state senate, is also thought to be the youngest senate whip, at age 36. He’s a young man on the move, who plans to put his Harvard MBA in play for his constituents.

Basically Keller said he plans to refine the state auditor’s process so that political subdivisions and public entities can avoid audit findings and complete audits by deadlines. Asked about enforcing regulations regarding audits, Keller made the point that he would phone, write letters, contact and visit various entities to try and avoid problems prior to their filing audits. The Keller action plan includes creating “a Policy Evaluation Office to help deter corruption by increasing accountability in every state program.”

If Keller gets elected, we think he should start with the Taos Municipal Schools and follow up with an audit of the Town-County JPA operations at the E911-Dispatch Center, followed by an audit of Legislative–DFA-grants for the command center, i.e. look at potential violations of the “anti-donation” clause–i.e. violations of the procurement code.

Currently, a number of state-designated recipients, funded by the legislature, have been de-funded by the Martinez administration in the state—to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars–due to what some see as onerous changes to requirements in audit policies by the Governor. Senator Keller himself has filed a lawsuit against the Martinez administration, regarding the de-funding of health organizations and the surreptitious removal of oversight from New Mexico to out-of-state auditors and health organizations—all of which bear a resemblance to certain out-of-state republican donor-contractors.

Generally speaking on Saturday, democrats faulted Martinez for showing little interest in the state and more interest in responding to extremist republicans, especially lobbyists from ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, which has become a divisive and radical right-wing force at the state level throughout the country. According to some, Martinez has made deals with out-of-state contractors to manage the state itself.

In other local Democratic Party news, apparently, the most recent Taos County Democratic Party chair, Antonio Cruz, (secretly) resigned from the position. Local democrats learned of the resignation incidentally while in communication with the state party chief Sam Bregman’s office. Party insiders in Taos suspect that financial records, precinct lists, and other documents have vanished. Vice chair Sarah Medina Martinez, newly elected only four months ago (more or less) is apparently scrambling to pick up the remnants or, perhaps, reorganize and start up a new party organization. She needs help.

Apparently the death of organization man Fernando Miera (RIP) left the Chuby Tafoya-Kat Duran party cabal up the creek without a pencil or a cell phone. Democrats say Duran, Tafoya’s chosen successor, never returned phone calls and seemed more interested in social promotion than party organization. Tafoya has turned into a turtle. Now Cruz has also, apparently, vanished into the hinterlands of former Democratic Party leaders. Traditional insiders, who have been shut out in recent years, wonder if the party is under investigation for financial irregularities.

On the other hand, local politicians long ago began ignoring the Democratic Party as a political force. Some democrats wonder if there is any need at all for the party. Regardless of the local organization, Taos County delivers for democrats in higher percentages than any other county in the state when it comes to presidential and gubernatorial elections. Taosenos themselves get the job done.

Local republicans aren’t immune to vanishing acts. We hear the local party chair has abandoned Taos for Texas and left leadership in the hands of Vice Chair Arsenio Cordova.

Some things never change.

(By the way, electoral politics and the politics of scandal are heating up. There will be more, much more in the coming weeks. There’s nothing like little schadenfreude to pick up the spirits of  Taosenos.)

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