By Spencer Kellogg | USA
In a crowded room, you can’t miss A. Blair Dunn. The grandson of a newspaperman and son of a rancher, A. Blair Dunn stands 6’9 and has the gait of a man on a mission. The first lawyer of his family, A. Blair Dunn has witnessed striking corruption and cronyism in the New Mexico judiciary and announced his candidacy as a Libertarian for Attorney General just after the New Year. He is known throughout the state as a promoter of honesty and as a thorn in the side of a political system that continues to see New Mexico lag behind economically while a select few in New Mexico’s powerful government benefit greatly. 71 Republic’s Spencer Kellogg sat down with Mr. Dunn to discuss the reasons why he is running as a Libertarian for Attorney General of New Mexico.
On Libertarianism, Family & Truth:
I’ve always been socially tolerant and fiscally conservative. Part of that is being a rancher in the west .We mind our own business, we don’t want anyone telling us how to live our lives and we don’t want to tell anyone else how to live their life.
My great grandfather was in the New Mexican legislature and my father is the current State Land Commissioner. We believe you’re not allowed to bitch unless you’re willing to walk the walk to make the state better. My grandfather was honest and only did what he thought was best for New Mexico. Lying, dishonesty, and crookedness are the biggest pet peeves in my family. My grandfather, when he was in the legislature, never took a meal from a lobbyist. He didn’t want to be influenced or even have the appearance that he could be influenced.
I want to actually see this work. Not just be a discussion point. We’ve done the discussion part for too long. We need to start moving the needle. You move the needle by actually winning elections. You need power to make change. On some level, I’m a minarchist. I think if you look at the founders, that’s what they had in mind when they wrote the constitution. When I read the constitution, I see the maximum amount of liberty possible and we’ve lost that.
On New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas:
Honesty is by far, the most paramount thing, which is why I’m running for Attorney General. Hector Balderas, the AG, is the most corrupt politician in New Mexico, bar none. The number one thing that I believe is your government should be transparent and honest with you. No matter what they’re doing, they have to represent those ethics or else you have no idea what your government is doing and they can completely trample you. Hector, as the chief law enforcement officer, is charged with enforcing the Inspection of Public Records Act. My major gripe with Hector is that he is the least transparent politician in the state and his office fights every public inquiry to get records. The guy who is supposed to be sharing public information is the person who is concealing it. He fights everybody with lawsuits, they don’t turn over public records, they destroy records and they get away with it. The average citizen has to sue him to get records and he fights you tooth and nail.
One lawsuit we have against the AG office, we requested records of communications between one of Hector’s attorneys and a private law firm out of San Francisco. This private law firm doesn’t have a contract with the state. They weren’t involved in the lawsuit and yet Hector’s office claimed attorney-client privilege between the attorneys from the state and the attorneys from a private lawsuit representing a special interest. My point is, if you’re the Attorney General for the State of New Mexico, your client is the State of New Mexico which means your client is all of us who live here in the state, not a private law firm.
If you look at Hector’s campaign finances from his last run, you find big donations from law firms in New York and San Fransisco and then those law firms get contracts to represent the state. For instance, today, the State of New Mexico is in the United States Supreme Court on a water case. Hector was there, but he wasn’t arguing. As the Attorney General of the State he didn’t argue the case! Instead, the law firm of Robles, Rael & Anaya argued the case for the State of New Mexico. They were also big donors of Hector’s campaign from New Mexico and he used to work for the law firm. They made a huge profit off the case while Hector sat there and watched the hearing even though he didn’t argue the case. The State of Texas and the State of Colorado had their own solicitor generals argue the case and yet the The State of New Mexico paid Hector and his associates to go watch while also paying a private firm to make the arguments.
On What He Would Do Different As Attorney General:
We’d be absolutely transparent. The AG’s office has to be the most transparent office in the state and we have to set the example. No matter where you look, there’s some amount of corruption that goes on in the state agencies, whether in the AG’s office itself or in our judiciary. Nobody in this state prosecutes corruption. Hector’s biggest feather in his cap is the Dianna Duran case which he almost botched. Her biggest issue was that she was kiting funds. There are a lot bigger fish to fry than Dianna Duran’s gambling problem. We just elected Tim Keller as Mayor of Albuquerque. Tim Keller has committed three felonies: criminal fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. I will call a spade a spade. People’s constitutional rights need to be respected and they can’t be trampled by judges. We can’t have a court system, an Attorney General and a government that is so corrupt that the people have no faith in it.
On Water Rights in New Mexico:
Certain oil companies are mad because we believe they need to pay their fair share and do conservation when it comes to our Ogallala Aquifer. That’s not popular with some of the oil and gas companies who would rather cut the corner, pay a lot less to take the Ogallala water that we need to frack wells. We don’t have a problem with fracking but we have a problem with irresponsible uses and cutting the state short on the severance tax that we should be getting on that water. That’s the only way we can pay for schools and hospitals in New Mexico. I don’t care what political supporters think, I’m here to to do the right thing. The small ranchers and farmers get trampled by the big cities and corporations who have the power to pay for lobbyists and pay off the government to take that water and that lifeblood away from those ranchers. I fight for the little guy, whether it’s a civil rights case or a water rights case.
On Right To Work:
I support Right to Work because of what my grandfather saw working in the mines and for the smelter in Silver City. Because he wasn’t union, he was ostracized and given the shit jobs. He died from cancer and he thought he was breathing stuff he really shouldn’t have. He didn’t have protection and believed it was because he refused to let someone have his political will and force to pay to be part of a group I didn’t advocate for. I am a big believer in the First Amendment and the freedom to associate but I think that also means the freedom not to associate. In order to have a job, you shouldn’t be required to join a union. What it has done for economies has been demonstrated. If you look at Kentucky and how much growth they have seen from doing local ordinances and state laws, I think the proof is in the pudding with Right to Work.
On Why New Mexico Lags Behind Other States:
We are kept that way mainly because of corruption. People call it the Patron state. We have a Patron system here which goes back to the old Mexican system and the joke goes ‘New Mexico… pretty much like the Old Mexico.’ We get politicians in there that operate thinking about state contracts for their buddies and Hector Balderas is a prime example of that with the contracts he gives out. That Patron system is what keeps us in the 1800’s with the way New Mexico operates. That’s one of the main reasons I am leaving the Republican Party. It’s a different side of the same coin and the problem we’ve always had in New Mexico. Whether it’s the Republicans or Democrats in charge all that they do is help their friends and they don’t actually do what’s best for New Mexico.
Some of my earliest memories are being on the apple farm with my grandfather discussing water rights, natural resources and why they’re important. That’s why I became a lawyer, because of the conversations we had. In New Mexico, more than in a lot of places, people are fed up. We are on the brink of a revolution. You don’t stay on the bottom of every good list and the top of every bad list for as long as this state has without everybody getting fed up and saying enough! You either leave or you fix it. That’s how revolutions start, there’s no opportunity to leave and you have to change it.
On Marijuana Rights in New Mexico:
I’m for legalization. I’m not sure I’m even for taxing it. Some amount of regulation? Yes. I don’t think it should be different than any other consumption tax. I don’t think there is any need to tax it. There is some amount of regulation and taxation that might be acceptable simply because there is at least the indication that marijuana may have affects on society beyond that one person.
On Gary Johnson:
For a while I was the State Director of the Johnson campaign here in New Mexico. I was a proponent of finding a few states where we could win and use the constitution to disrupt anyone from receiving the majority of the electoral college. Around the beginning of August they got it in their heads that they could win the whole thing. My grandfather was a huge Gary Johnson fan. If you look at 75 years of New Mexico governance, he’s the only bright spot we can point to. Gary’s ability to use responsible government to build infrastructure to move New Mexico forward is unparalleled and nobody in New Mexico has been close. We had a billion dollar surplus. Today, we’re a billion dollars in the hole.
On a Note From His Grandfather:
My grandfather wrote a letter to me that was supposed to be opened on my 21st birthday. We didn’t find it until he was long gone but in the letter he gave me apple seeds, pecans, a jar of water from the farm and a film capsule filled with manure with a note in it that said ‘political fertilizer, otherwise known as bullshit’. In the letter he wrote that what New Mexico really needs is someone that is willing to stand up for its people and actually make sure that people are taken care of in the state. That we should use our natural recourses to make our own lives better rather than just simply taking it from them to make a few of us great. That’s what drove me back towards politics was finding the capsule in 2012 and it set me on the path to be involved in politics as a public servant.