Candidate’s criminal record may spark controversy over legal issues

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Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A Republican legislative candidate from Albuquerque could be blocked from getting workplace – if he’s elected in November – owing to earlier felony theft and larceny convictions.

But the problem could finish up participating in out in courtroom as a current federal ruling uncovered the New Mexico legislation that, in most instances, bars people with felony convictions from holding elected business office might violate the condition Structure.

Solomon Pena, who is the GOP nominee for the House District 14 seat in the South Valley, served almost 7 yrs in jail right after getting convicted in 2008 of thieving large amounts of merchandise from numerous massive box retail outlets in a noted “smash and grab” scheme.

He declined to response Journal concerns about his prison file this 7 days, declaring he was also occupied knocking on district residents’ doors to talk.

“I stand with Donald J. Trump,” Pena explained in a subsequent textual content information. “I do not want everything to do with you.”

Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, D-Albuquerque, a longtime legislator who is the incumbent in Household District 14, mentioned some aged citizens have expressed problem to him about Pena’s marketing campaign design and style, which includes frequently urging voters to transform their social gathering affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

Garcia also explained he’s hired a further legislator, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, an Albuquerque independent and lawyer, to stand for him in a court obstacle aimed at obtaining Pena disqualified from the Nov. 8 typical election ballot.

In a Friday interview, Candelaria stated that, though condition legislation is not very clear on whether or not convicted felons can run for office environment, he thinks Pena dedicated perjury by filing a declaration of candidacy stating he was qualified to hold the legislative seat.

“We’re heading to convey a scenario and let the court determine it out,” Candelaria said. “He carries on to imagine the legislation doesn’t utilize to him.”

Candelaria also stated he supports former convicts remaining totally reintegrated into culture, but explained there is a clear authorized method for these people to operate for elected business that Pena does not appear to have adopted.

However, a Residence GOP spokesman accused Candelaria, a former Democrat who modified his get together affiliation to independent past calendar year, of hypocrisy for trying to derail Pena’s candidacy.

“As a person who was raised in the South Valley, I am let down to see so-named civil rights activists attempt to use the case in point of this younger Hispanic person, who turned his existence all over, for their political movida,” claimed Matt Garcia-Sierra, communications director for the Residence GOP management.

No pardon, no work

Underneath New Mexico legislation, people with felony convictions are not suitable to maintain elected workplace until they have accomplished all the phrases of their sentence and have been given a pardon from the governor, reported Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Business office.

“A individual with a felony conviction can qualify to run for workplace and be positioned on the ballot, but they would not be equipped to hold that office environment, if elected, except if they gained a pardon from the governor,” Curtas added.

Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, said this 7 days Pena experienced not utilized for, nor acquired, a pardon because the Democratic governor took workplace in 2019.

Even with that, Pena’s candidacy could be bolstered by the U.S. District Court ruling in January that found the prohibition on convicted felons holding place of work once they’ve done the phrases of their sentence would possible be rejected by the point out Supreme Courtroom.

That ruling, which concerned a distinctive plaintiff, pointed out the Structure makes it possible for all authorized residents who are competent electors to maintain public office environment, if not otherwise restricted by the Structure.

But the New Mexico Supreme Court has not ruled immediately on the situation given that a 2010 constitutional amendment changed the definition of qualified voter and it is unclear if the state’s maximum court docket would concur with the federal court’s interpretation.

Legislators find clarity

Pena, 39, was incarcerated from Could 2009 until eventually March 2016 at various prisons in New Mexico, a condition Corrections Section spokeswoman stated Friday. He done his five a long time of probation in March 2021 and subsequently experienced his voting rights restored, in accordance to court docket data.

Various photos of Pena at Trump campaign rallies look on his marketing campaign web site, together with a record of political stances that consist of “support for our neighborhood police” and statements that the 2020 election was rigged.

The web page does not point out Pena’s criminal file he was convicted by a jury of felony larceny and theft for stealing from at least four unique Albuquerque suppliers. He was reportedly portion of a burglary crew that utilised stolen autos to smash into outlets and choose large-stop electronics.

All 70 New Mexico point out Household seats are up for election this 12 months, with Republicans hoping to select up several seats in the chamber.

Presently, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the Dwelling by a 44-25 margin – there’s also a person impartial member – but Republicans have recruited candidates to run in 50 districts close to the point out.

In the meantime, Candelaria also mentioned he strategies to refer the situation to Lawyer Basic Hector Balderas’ business for feasible assessment.

He also claimed legislators may well, in the long run, will need to make it very clear that people with felony convictions who have not received a pardon simply cannot legally run for an elected business they can’t occupy.

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Debbie A. Cunningham

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