New Mexico Impeachment Resolution in Senate Rules Committee, 9AM February 9th, Room 321 at the State Capitol
by Leland Lehrman - email@example.com (505) 982-3609
The New Mexico Impeachment Resolution will roll into its first Committee Hearing this Friday, February 9th, at 9AM in Room 321 of the State Capitol Building. It is possible that it will be reassigned to a larger hearing room if there is a crowd. Four of the five Democratic Senators on the Rules Committee have already signed the bill: Chairwoman Linda Lopez, Vice-Chair John Grubesic, Cisco McSorley and Dede Feldman. Senator Ben Altamirano, President Pro Tempore of the Senate is the swing vote on Rules and if you are from New Mexico and especially his district (Catron, Grant & Socorro), we encourage you to contact him at (505) 986-4733. If you can't reach the Senator, ask for Erlinda Campbell, his excellent secretary. Please take a few moments to read the below talking points for they will be useful in the discussion.
The sponsor, Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino's first comment on Altamirano's vote was that the most important thing was to get Ben to be there at the hearing, something that doesn't always happen in Rules. Without Senator Altamirano's vote, a tie will kill the resolution. Jerry felt at the time, and I believe still feels, that Sen. Altamirano will ultimately vote with the rest of the Democrats on Rules.
I'm hopeful but not so sure, because the feedback we've received on the subject from our friends in his district is that he feels it's a Federal issue. Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding of the process, some citizens accused Sen. Altamirano of having assigned the Resolution three committees, when the responsibility for that was most likely Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. This apparently led to unnecessary anger directed at the President Pro Tem.
Senator Ortiz y Pino recently called me and asked me to please ask that callers to Senator Altamirano's office be respectful in their discussions with him. It's an emotional issue, and I certainly understand why well-meaning citizens might lose their tempers on the subject, but we would not want to lose the good Senator's vote for the wrong reason.
The main point on which Senator Altamirano appears to be unclear is the right of States to initiate impeachment proceedings. In phone calls to the Senator, it will be important to explain that Thomas Jefferson's Rules of the House (which govern parliamentary procedure in Congress) explicitly make it possible for States to initiate impeachment proceedings for Federal Officials. In other words, impeachment is *not* strictly Federal. The right of States to initiate impeachment proceedings becomes the *responsibility* of the States when the Constitution is violated. With authority comes responsibility. The best source of info on this subject can be found here:
Senator Altamirano needs to understand that if but one Member of the US Congress invokes the New Mexico resolution to impeach, by law there must be an immediate, "privileged" one-hour debate on the subject on the floor. Given that Rep. John Conyers, the current Chairman of the Judiciary in the US House told the assembled masses at the recent rally in DC that "We can fire the President," a resolution from a State Legislature might be all it takes to prod him into official impeachment proceedings.
Furthermore, it is essential to explain to Senator Altamirano that Impeachment is the *Official Policy of the New Mexico Democratic Party*. The proof of this can easily be found on the party's website, where a click on "The Democratic Party of New Mexico 2006 Resolutions" link gives the following document:
Under "Election Issues," the platform reads, "Support the Impeachment of George W. Bush."
I have spoken with many Democrats who were present at that platform hearing, and they are all unanimous that impeachment was the plank that received the *most* and thunderous applause, with upwards of 95% of those present standing and cheering in support.
Those concerned that this procedure is about making Nancy Pelosi President should realize that will not happen even in the scenario where both the President and Vice-President are removed from office. One or the other will have an opportunity to nominate a replacement who would become President, barring Senate disapproval, until 2008. This is not about choosing a President through legal proceedings. It is about removing lawbreakers from office and establishing a precedent that will protect the Constitution and curtail executive abuse in the future.
There is a chance that some national celebrities and expert witnesses may be able to attend the Rules Committee hearings. If you can help with airfare or house them while they are here, please let me know. Our current top five wish list is Cindy Sheehan, Sean Penn, Robert F. Kennedy, Liz Holtzman and James Bamford.
Former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman was a member of the Congressional Committee that impeached Nixon. Much of her work can be found on afterdowningstreet.org where she is listed as an expert witness and speaker. Her interview with David Swanson on Fox News is a delight to behold. An excellent selection of television coverage and news clips from the New Mexico impeachment proceedings has been assembled at http://afterdowningstreet.org
James Bamford's recent New York Times editorial on the NSA spying case and the role warrantless wiretapping played in the impeachment of Nixon is priceless. It ran today, Sunday, Feb. 4th, in the New Mexican's editorial section. Find it online here:
Mr. Bamford is a plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit against the NSA over the warrantless wiretapping and is the famous chronicler of the NSA.
If you know of any other national expert witnesses or celebrities with integrity who would be willing to support us on the ground here in New Mexico, please determine their availability ASAP. We are tentatively planning a press conference for Thursday afternoon - pending amenability of the sponsors and a room in the Capitol - where national figures will be able to voice their position and support. It makes sense to develop a wave of support going into the hearing on Friday morning, so we have to get the ball rolling Thursday afternoon. National folks planning on coming to the hearing, please arrange to be here for both Thursday afternoon and Friday morning if possible. If you can only make one day, the choice is yours.
Impeach Bush and Cheney in New Mexico