Republican Delegate Convention Attendees Paid by Wilson Senate Campaign, According to Report Sourced by Three Eye-Witnesses, Removed from Air After Complaints to Station by Wilson
Memo From News Director to Reporter: 'Don't you think if there was anything to it the bloggers would have picked this up?'
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2008, 6:46pm PT  

Reporter Dennis Domrzalski's terrific scoop deserves to be read in full, so I won't quote much of it here.

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...

Allen reportedly received complaints from Wilson's campaign after the report was filed. And then, after scrubbing the story from their website on-air news rotation, he sent a memo to MacCallum (included in full in Domrzalski's report) explaining, incredibly, that "unless there is an official investigation of criminal wrongdoing related to these meetings then the story is going nowhere"; that it was "very inside politics...that i don't think has much importance to our listeners"; and last but not least "if there was anything to it the bloggers would have picked this up, let alone other news agencies."

You'll also recall that both Wilson and Domenici have a standing record of inappropriately applying pressure. They each are alleged to have done the same in the case of NM's former Republican U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who was fired as part of the U.S. Attorney Purge Scandal after refusing to bring phony "voter fraud" indictments just prior to the 2006 Election, despite inappropriate phone calls calls from both Wilson and Domenici.

Wilson was named the winner of an exceptionally close race to retain her 1st Congressional District seat in 2006, in her run against her Democratic opponent, former NM Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

Memo in return for KKOB's News Director, Pat Allen: The bloggers have now picked up the story. Nice going.

UPDATE 3/6/08, 1:15am: Considerably more details now posted here, including news from my extensive interviews with NM's former Republican Governor David Cargo, who says SoS and AG investigations are now under way, and that he confronted Wilson with the allegations, as well as a new reason that Pat Allen tells me he spiked the story, and the scripts of the original pulled stories. All now here...

CORRECTION: We had originally reported that the Wilson vote-buying story had been scrubbed from the KKOB's website. News Director Pat Allen, to whom we just spoke, says it had never been on the site to his knowledge, but rather the story had been removed from the day's airplay after it's first airing. It would have otherwise run throughout the day on the station. MacCallum had done two stories on the issue, and after the second one ran, according to Allen, he pulled it after receiving a call from a Wilson campaign representative complaining about the story. We hope to have more on this story soon, including more comments from Allen, MacCallum and the other interested parties, as well as the audio of the original stories that were pulled, if we can obtain them.

(Hat-tip Nicole Belle at C&L for picking it up, BRAD BLOG moderator Agent 99 for letting us know about it, and Domrzalski for his terrific original report which deserves, and now will hopefully get, many eyeballs.)

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