Today the paper finally published a story about the allegations of vote buying at the mid-February Bernalillo County Republican Party's pre-nominating conventions. And what a lame, disgraceful story it was. Read this stupid lede:
A registration fee for rank-and-file Republicans to attend their county convention— a fee candidates sometimes pick up— might be the root of a behind-the-scenes political flap in Bernalillo County.
Naaah! Really? A registration fee might be the root of a behind-the-scenes political flap?
How about allegations of criminal vote buying are ripping the party apart? That would be more accurate. How about this story has been raging in the national blogosphere for weeks and has contributed to a massive swell of anti-Rep. Heather Wilson venom? How about former KKOB Radio afternoon drive time news anchor Laura MacCallum broke the stories in late February and resigned in early March when her idiot news editor killed them because bloggers hadn't picked them up? How about the f-brilliant blog which broke the MacCallum resignation story and put the vote-buying allegations on the Internet on March 3, more than two weeks ago?
Or The BRAD BLOG, which joined f-brilliant and advanced the story on March 5 with its own exclusive interviews with a number of the players, including KKOB's news director Pat Allen, who backpedaled on his explanations for spiking MacCallum's stories once the reasons he'd emailed to MacCallum became public?
You'll never read about those things in the Journal because they're the truth and that paper is incapable of telling it...
New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera said her office is working closely and quickly with the state Attorney General’s Office to finish the investigation into the state Republican Party’s vote-buying scandal.
The agencies want the investigation completed before the state GOP’s statewide convention on Saturday, Herrera said late Tuesday in an exclusive interview with this blog.
Herrera also said she was troubled by the allegations that the campaigns --- including Congresswoman Heather Wilson’s U.S. Senate campaign --- had paid people to attend the Bernalillo County, NM GOP’s ward conventions on Feb. 17 and vote for certain delegates.
“It’s something new --- people being paid to get to conventions. I’ve never heard of it. I’ve been attending (Democratic Party) ward and state conventions since I’ve been 18 and I’ve never heard of anything like this. Now we have paying people to do it. It seems very odd,” Herrera said during the face-to-face interview in Albuquerque.
New evidence emerged in the case that offers a reason why Wilson’s campaign was suddenly forced to admit that they paid for at least five people to attend the conventions, after initially refusing to comment on the allegations of vote-buying at the Feb. 17 Bernalillo County GOP’s ward conventions: A paper trail...
After waiting nearly a week, the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday finally published a story about Laura MacCallum quitting her job as KKOB Radio’s afternoon drive time anchor.
What a pathetic story it was, though. It shows why the blogosphere is daily becoming more powerful and why more and more people are turning away from traditional media sources for their news. The fact is, those traditional sources can’t be trusted to tell us what’s really going on, especially when it comes to their own industry.
MaCallum quit because KKOB News Director Pat Allen pulled her stories about allegations of vote buying at the recent sate Republican Party’s pre-primary conventions. Allen caved after getting complaints from Heather Wilson’s U.S. Senate campaign and from state Republican Party officials. (See BRAD BLOG's Special Coverage Page on the scandal here.)
The Journal's --- this newspaper is the largest media outlet in the state --- seven-paragraph story, buried on page B4, fails to mention that it was Wilson’s campaign that did the complaining. It didn’t go into detail about the vote-buying scandal, and it said nothing about Allen’s memo to MacCallum that he didn’t think the stories were valid because other media outlets and bloggers hadn’t picked them up...
We've been on the road for the last several days, so haven't been able to keep you up to date with some of the latest beats in the NM GOP/Rep. Heather Wilson "Vote-Buying" story, since our on-air audio interviews with some of the key players on Friday. (see our Special Coverage Page here for the full background.)
New Mexico journalist and TV host Dennis Domrzalski --- who broke the story in the blogosphere first, including the not-insignificant detail that coverage of the original allegations had been spiked by NM's largest news/talk radio outlet KKOB-AM 770, leading to the resignation of their award-winning news anchor, Laura MacCallum, who had originally both witnessed and aired the charges --- has been advancing it smartly over the last several days. As The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively in detail last week, KKOB's news director Pat Allen has been having a difficult time keeping his stories straight about why exactly he spiked the stories after the Wilson campaign contacted him to complain about them several times.
Domrzalski will have a guest blog for us here shortly on the latest latest, but to quickly catch you up with notable developments over the last several days...
Gov. David Cargo (former Republican NM Governor, one of several officials who made the initial allegations)
David Iglesias (the former US Attorney from NM who was fired in the U.S. Attorney Purge after receiving inappropriate phone-calls from Heather Wilson, and Pete Domenici was not able to make it after all)
As you may have guessed, there continues to be much developing on this story. The trick will be continuing to cover it all as I must head out to the road again beginning tomorrow, for a couple of weeks. As always, I'll do our best, even from there, to continue coverage. Your help is much appreciated! (See bottom of this post for one way you can help us immediately!)
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Was a great hour, I think. Both MacCallum and Cargo did a great job of covering the meat and potatoes of it all, along with the always top-notch PBC. I was on live from the California State Ronald Reagan building downtown where I just finished attending and testifying at a hearing on the L.A. County "Double Bubble" ballot debacle. More on that when I can catch my breath (which you'll see I'm quite out of, at the beginning of the hour).
Here's the full hour, which is actually 42 minutes with commercials removed (courtesy of Green960's podcast archive.) Download MP3, or listen online right here...
Please support The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive and our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available for new contributors!
About the website of Domrzalski, who says he was not contacted by the indignant Haussamen for comment before the scathing story ran, he wrote "This is not a reputable journalistic site."
Yet, incredibly, Haussamen failed to disclose, in his article on this yesterday, that Rep. Heather Wilson's campaign spokesperson, Whitney Cheshire, wrote a weekly column at his blog site until October of last year, when she stopped to go to work for the Congresswoman.
In fact, it was Cheshire who forwarded Haussamen's article, defending her boss, via email to the News Director at Albuquerque radio station KKOB, after reports had surfaced that they had spiked the vote-buying stories, broken by one of their own news anchors initially, reportedly after pressure from Cheshire herself. That News Director, in turn, forwarded Haussamen's article, sent by Cheshire, to us late last night.
KKOB's now-resigned, award-winning news anchor Laura MacCallum offers a full statement, in her own words, in the wake of the station having pulled her stories on allegations of vote-buying by New Mexico's U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson's campaign at a recent GOP Delegate Nominating Convention in the state.
Though she wrote it prior to our speaking with her at length yesterday, the full statement was not posted until today. (Many of her comments from that exclusive interview, in which she replies to new explanations by the station's News Director for having pulled her stories, were included in our detailed report last night)
A few notable snippets from her full statement --- in which she blasts KKOB, charging "This is not journalism. It is extortion," and "Honesty and guts in journalism, print or broadcast, is becoming a thing of the past." --- are posted below...
[Story Summary: Via extensive BRAD BLOG interviews, New Mexico's former Republican Governor repeats and adds fresh details to his allegations of Republican vote-buying by Congresswoman Heather Willson, tells us that the AG and SoS offices are now investigating the charges, and says he recently confronted Wilson, in person, about the allegations and was "stunned" by her response. KKOB's News Director Pat Allen offers a new reason as to why he spiked reporter Laura MacCallum's stories on the scandal and she dismisses the argument as being without merit. We also post the scripts of radio station KKOB's yanked stories, which led to MacCallum's resignation from the station last week.]
32-year award-winning news veteran and New Mexico's ABC field producer, Laura MacCallum, quit her job as afternoon anchor at Albuquerque's 50,000-watt blowtorch KKOB-AM 770, after she read an email from her News Director, Pat Allen, which said, among other things, "if there was anything to it the bloggers would have picked this up, let alone other news agencies."
Allen was referring to MacCallum's on-air investigative reports covering allegations of a vote-buying scheme by New Mexico's U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson at a recent Republican Delegate Convention. The 1st Congressional District Congresswoman is vying for her party's nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated this year by outgoing Pete Domenici. MacCallum ran the stories about the charges on KKOB several times, in several different variations --- including several different interviews and sound bites from both the former Republican Governor of New Mexico, David Cargo, an eye-witness to the story, and a current spokesman for the state GOP, Scott Darnell.
The stories ran, five different versions in all, over a two day period before they were spiked by station management allegedly after pressure from Wilson's office. The BRAD BLOG has obtained the scripts of those original spiked reports (posted at the end of this article), though the complete audio is said to have been "dump[ed]...to make room for new stuff," according to Allen tonight.
In the email to MacCallum, sent last week by the News Director after he'd received several phone calls from Wilson campaign spokesperson, Whitney Cheshire, he informed his afternoon drive news anchor that he'd "pulled" the stories from the station's on-air news rotation. After reading the email from Allen, MacCallum told us she became livid. "I probably had flames coming out of my ears," she explained this afternoon during a long phone call. She immediately resigned in protest.
The BRAD BLOG has now spoken at length to Allen, MacCallum, and NM's former Gov. Cargo, as well as several others involved with the story and/or looking into it for further details. Suffice it to say, contrary to Allen's memo, "the bloggers" have now picked this up, and, according to MacCallum and other sources, so have several of those "other news agencies" that Allen referenced in his email.
Moreover, Cargo tells us today that the charges of felony vote-buying are now under investigation by both the Secretary of State's office as well as the state Attorney General. Further, he told us of his confrontation with Wilson about the allegations some weeks ago. Her response to the charges left the former Governor "stunned"...
The short version, however: New Mexico's ABC field producer and KKOB afternoon drive news reporter, Laura MacCallum, a 32-year news veteran, has quit her job after her stories on an alleged vote-buying scheme by Republican Rep. Heather Wilson at the recent delegate nominating convention in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, were scrubbed from her station's website hourly news cycle by the News Director, after alleged pressure from Rep. Wilson.
The sitting Congresswoman is angling for an upgrade, as she hopes to be the state's Republican nominee to fill the Senate seat being vacated by outgoing Republican Pete Domenici. MacCallum's report, sourced by at least three different people, including herself, said that voters showed up to the delegate convention and claimed they were being "paid $35-an-hour (for two hours)" by Wilson's senate campaign and the congressional campaign of Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, "and that the campaigns had also paid their $30 registration fees."
I just spoke with Domrzalski, and he underscored again, as he did in his story, that "Wilson’s spokeswoman flat out refused to answer the question" when asked if he asked her if the reports were true.
Such a scheme, if true, would be a fourth-degree felony, according to New Mexico law. But as remarkable as those charges are, even if having the ring of truth, given what we already know about Wilson, the response, including the memo sent from KKOB News Director Pat Allen to MacCallum, is almost as remarkable...