New Mexico Ad Targets AG Race: ‘Law Enforcement Should Not Be For Sale’
A new spot this week targets New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas and the state’s use of privately funded legal fellows in the state attorney general’s office paid for by an out-of-state billionaire to provide assistance on litigation and promote “clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies.”
The ads by Climate Litigation Watch, a project of the public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C., according to the release, will run on radio, television, and online.
“Attorney General Hector Balderas has let billionaire Michael Bloomberg hire a special prosecutor for our state’s top law enforcement office, to promote Mr. Bloomberg’s radical environmental agenda,” the ad’s voiceover begins.
Balderas, the Democratic incumbent, is facing Michael Hendricks, a Republican in November.
The ad refers to the creation of the New York University Law School’s new State Energy and Environmental Impact Center (SEEIC) in August 2017, underwritten by a $6 million grant from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Hayes told the Post the money would be used “not only [for] litigation against the federal government but also enforcement activities on the state level.”
That state-level activity would focus on supporting “state attorneys general in defending and promoting clean energy, climate and environmental laws and policies” in the form of the special assistant attorneys general who would work in the respective state attorneys general offices, but with salaries and benefits provided by SEEIC.
According to Hayes, as many as 15 legal fellows have been placed in AG offices across the country, from New Mexico to New York.
The package of ads targeting the Bloomberg special assistant attorneys general will also play in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Oregon.
“Balderas even promised to use this privately funded prosecutor to ‘to identify ‘pressure points’ on which litigation can be used to most effectively influence policy,’” according to an email from the New Mexico AG’s office.
“Sign the petition, and tell your elected representatives: Law enforcement should not be for sale,” the ad closes.
According to emails revealed by Horner, an October 17, 2017 Hayes email to Tania Maestas, Chief Deputy Attorney General for Civil Affairs and Operations, and Victoria Bransford, Executive Assistant to the New Mexico Attorney General, apologized for the “need to make this announcement to facilitate the recruitment of attorneys who will take these spots in your office.”
Hayes assured them that the offer would get little play in the state, as “[t]here will be limited distribution of the announcement and we will not reach out to any press in your state.”
Horner said that Hayes’ promise to keep the announcement under wraps “violates the trust” of New Mexico’s citizens and avoids transparency.
“The agreement to play down this unprecedented arrangement, not to mention NM OAG’s brazen promise to use the office politically, betrays an understanding that allowing activist donors to underwrite the formation and execution of policy in the Attorney General’s office violates the trust of the people in New Mexico,” Horner wrote. “Public promotion might only provoke public — or legislative — scrutiny. And indeed this shows the AG’s Office cries out for some kind of adult supervision,” Horner argued.