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WED: Albuquerque plans to restore neon signs ahead of Route 66 centennial, + More

The Hiway House motel sign on Central Ave. in Albuquerque's Nob Hill.
Thomas Hawk via Flickr
CC BY-NC 2.0
The Hiway House motel sign on Central Ave. in Albuquerque's Nob Hill.

Albuquerque plans to restore neon signs ahead of Route 66 centennial - Alice Fordham, KUNM

Albuquerque is planning to restore historic neon signs along its 18 miles of Route 66 ahead of the historic highway's centennial in 2026.

The City of Albuquerque and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency have collaborated on a new Sign Improvement Program.

It will grant funds to property owners who are able to restore the iconic neon signs that have lit up the road for decades, but which have often fallen into disrepair.

A total of $432,000 has been set aside for the project, and work that can be completed in the next two years will be prioritized.

Property owners can choose to repair an existing sign to preserve its historic character, or work with an artist to re-create signs as new works of art.

The city recommends property owners look to the nonprofit Friends of the Orphan Signs for inspiration. That group works with communities to restore abandoned signs and relics of past roadside culture around Albuquerque.

Founder Ellen Babcock said she was fascinated by the abandoned signs and, "by the way that their emptiness transcended the banality of surrounding advertising along Route 66.”

More details of the grants are available on the City of Albuquerque's website.

Storm damage closes lanes on I-40 in Albuquerque, overpass reopens - By Nash Jones, KUNM News

The two inside lanes of eastbound I-40 between San Mateo and Louisiana Boulevards in Albuquerque remain closed due to damage caused by a Tuesday afternoon storm. However, the San Pedro overpass is expected to open Wednesday evening.

The state Department of Transportation said in a statement that rushing water ripped off a chunk of the floor of a channel that runs down the middle of the highway, which then landed against a pier for the San Pedro overpass.

Department spokesperson Kim Gallegos said Wednesday afternoon that the pier had passed an inspection of its structural integrity and the department expected it to reopen in time for rush hour.

She said the I-40 lane closures will continue until crews can assess the damage and plan for repairs to the channel and roadway.

NM tourism secretary takes the helm at Aging and Long-term Services - By Nash Jones, KUNM News 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a change in her cabinet Tuesday. Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer will now lead the Aging and Long-term Services Department following the recent retirement of Sec. Katrina Hotrum-Lopez.

While the shift from managing tourism to overseeing elder care may seem like a drastic change, the governor referred to Schroer in the announcement as “an emerging health care leader.”

Leading Aging and Long-term Services won’t be the first time the secretary has worked on health care-related projects. While at the helm of the Tourism Department, Schroer was tasked with spearheading the state’s approach to pandemic communication and rolling out COVID vaccines. The governor also credits her with developing the Department of Health’s equity and inclusion strategy.

Schroer said in a statement that she sees, “great opportunity in improving how the state assists older adults and their caregivers in maintaining independence, living safely and autonomously.”

Development Director Lancing Adams will step in as the acting tourism secretary.

Virgin Galactic scheduled to take first paying passengers into spaceAlbuquerque Journal, KUNM News

Virgin Galactic could send its first paying passengers into space Thursday, the Albuquerque Journal reports, when a flight is scheduled from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

In late June, the company flew members of the Italian Air Force and National Research Council into suborbit, but tomorrow's launch is set to be the first time private passengers will take the company's tourist flight into space.

It's something the company has promised for nearly 20 years, since Sir Richard Branson created Virgin Galactic in 2004.

CEO Michael Colglazier said during an earnings conference call last week that this will mark a full launch of commercial service, including occasional research missions for government entities and others.

Three passengers will fly on the flight including a mother and daughter from the Caribbean island nation of Antigua — who won seats through a public drawing that Virgin Galactic conducted in 2021 — and an 80-year-old former Olympian athlete and lifetime adventurer who now has Parkinson’s disease.

Three Virgin Galactic team members will fly as well.

Bernalillo County recruits officials for November local electionBy Nash Jones, KUNM News 

Bernalillo County is looking for eligible residents to serve as election officials this November.

Most municipalities in New Mexico have opted into the Regular Local Election, which are held on odd-numbered years. This year’s will be held on November 7.

Bernalillo County election officials must be registered to vote in the county, cannot be a candidate on the ballot or related to one, and can’t work for law enforcement.

They will get paid anywhere from $300 to $400 on Election Day, depending on their role, and can earn $13.50 to $16 an hour during the early voting period, according to the county’s Bureau of Elections.

County Clerk Linda Stover wrote in a statement that voters stepping up to work the polls also “ensures the integrity and efficiency of our elections.”

Those who are interested can apply on the clerk’s website or by calling 505-243-VOTE.

VP Kamala Harris unveils new wage rule for federal projects - By Casey Quinlan via Source New Mexico

Construction workers who work on federal projects are poised to receive better wages and worker protections under a Department of Labor rule touted by Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday.

Speaking at a union hall in Philadelphia, Harris praised the Biden administration’s economic agenda and pointed out that the new rule would be the first update in more than 40 years to the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires paying prevailing wages on public works projects. The Reagan administration changed the definition of prevailing wages in 1983.

“Let’s agree these workers deserve our recognition and appreciation and they deserve something more,” Harris said. “They deserve a raise. … Many workers are paid much less than they deserve, much less than the value of their work … in some cases by thousands of dollars a year, and that is wrong and completely unacceptable.”

The final rule transforms how prevailing wages, or the hourly rate of wages paid to workers in a given area, are calculated. It would base wages off of at least 30% of workers instead of 50% of workers in a trade in a certain locality, which the Biden administration said will help ensure workers’ prevailing wages aren’t dragged down by employers who pay low wages.

The regulation also makes it easier for the agency to withhold funds from contractors to ensure workers are paid properly and protects workers from employer retaliation, Biden administration officials have stated.

The rule will be effective in about two months and would affect an estimated 1.2 million workers.

Harris praised the work of union leaders during her speech. She called Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), who was present at the speech, “a partner,” and thanked Jimmy Williams, the general president of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. After the speech, she planned to tour Interstate 95. In June, part of I-95 collapsed when a gasoline tanker exploded, and the man driving the vehicle died. Harris applauded the swift rebuild of the section, which took only 12 days. The rebuilding effort received federal funding.

Sharita Gruberg, vice president for economic justice at the National Partnership for Women and Families, said that the original formula for wage standards was supposed to make sure that federal contracts are paying workers a competitive wage but the Reagan administration’s changes in the 1980s weakened the rules.

“There’s just been all of these artificial barriers constructed since the ’80s that weaken this really strong rule that’s supposed to protect the local economy and protect workers,” Gruberg said. She added that the idea was “to make sure that these local economies are not subject to a large influx of federal dollars going to construction companies that are paying less than market rate and creating a race to the bottom.”

The administration is prioritizing these changes after it has invested billions in manufacturing facilities and repairing roads through the CHIPS and Science Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Gruberg said the administration is trying to make the most out of those investments by making these reforms.

“There’s two paths here,” she said. “One, we update these rules and make sure that these investments are reaching their full potential for communities, or we don’t and lose workers a lot of money.”

Progressive think tanks have argued that such changes will make it easier for workers to receive higher pay and better benefits. In its comment on the proposed rule in May 2022, the Economic Policy Institute said research has established that prevailing wage laws increase worker pay, help more workers get pension plans, and improve workers’ health care coverage as well as make the construction industry more equitable for women and workers of color.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America also supports the change and said it will protect many LIUNA members.

“With massive investments in infrastructure through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs with prevailing wage rules, construction workers across the nation will benefit from the strengthened wage floor,” LIUNA stated.

There is still opposition to the rule from the Associated Builders and Contractors, a non-union trade group, which has said it will take legal action in response to the rule. The trade association said there’s no timeline yet for when they will bring a lawsuit.

Ben Brubeck, vice president of regulatory, labor, and state affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors, called the rule a “handout to organized labor on the backs of taxpayers, small businesses and the free market” and said the regulation is “unnecessary, costly and burdensome.”

Biden is pitching his economic policies as a key to a manufacturing jobs revival —  Chris Megerian, Josh Boak, Associated Press

Bringing back factory jobs is one of the most popular of White House promises — regardless of who happens to be the president.

Donald Trump said he'd do it with tariffs. Barack Obama said companies would start "insourcing." George W. Bush said tax cuts would do the trick. But factory jobs seemed to struggle to fully return after each recession.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden will make the case in a New Mexico speech that his policies of financial and tax incentives have revived U.S. manufacturing. His claim is supported by a rise in construction spending on new factories. But factory hiring has begun to slow in recent months, a sign that the promised boom has yet to fully materialize.

That hasn't stopped the White House from telling voters ahead of the 2024 election that the Democratic president's agenda has triggered a "renaissance" in factory work.

"Hundreds of actions coordinated through his entire government are sparking a manufacturing renaissance across the United States," White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi told reporters ahead of Biden's New Mexico speech, asking them to picture in their minds a crowded jobs fair in Belen, New Mexico, for the 250 workers that Arcosa plans to hire at a factory that makes wind towers.

The president will speak as construction starts on Arcosa's plant, which formerly made Solo cups and later plastics. The White House said that Arcosa had to lay off workers in Illinois and Iowa before the Inflation Reduction Act became law last year, but customers placed $1.1 billion in wind tower orders with the company afterward. The stock has risen more than 20% in the past 12 months.

Biden's message on jobs is one he's been repeating frequently.

At a Philadelphia shipyard last month, Biden offered his policies to fight climate change by shifting away from fossil fuels as a way to create jobs. It's a sign that he wants voters to process his social and environmental programs as being good for economic growth.

"A lot of my friends in organized labor know: When I think climate, I think jobs," Biden said. "I think union jobs. Not a joke."

Biden's trip to the Southwest is shaded by his reelection campaign and the challenge posed by a majority U.S. adults saying that they believe the economy is in poor shape. The president is trying to break through a deep pessimism that intensified last year as inflation spiked. His trip included a Tuesday speech in Arizona and will end with remarks Thursday in Utah. In 2020, Biden won both Arizona and New Mexico, key states that he likely needs to hold next year to secure another term.

The president does have a case to make to the public on employment. As the U.S. economy healed from the coronavirus pandemic, hiring has surged at factories. Manufacturing jobs have climbed to their highest totals in nearly 15 years. This is the first time since the 1970s that manufacturing employment has fully recovered from a recession.

But the pace of job growth at manufacturers has slowed over the past year. Factories were adding roughly 500,000 workers annually last summer, a figure that in the government's most recent jobs report fell to 125,000 gains over the past 12 months.

Biden administration officials have said there are more factory jobs coming because of its infrastructure spending, investments in computer chip plants and the various incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Their argument is that the incentives encouraged the private sector to invest, leading to $500 billion worth of commitments to make computer chips, electric vehicles, advanced batteries, clean energy technologies and medical goods. They say that more factories are coming because, after adjusting for inflation, spending on factory construction has climbed almost 100% since the end of 2021.

In April, the Economic Innovation Group, a public policy organization, issued a report that called construction spending for factories a "nationwide boom." The report notes there are signs that manufacturing gains are most prominent outside the Midwest, which has historically identified with the sector, as more plants open in southern and western states. But EIG is less sure that a full-fledged restoration of manufacturing is in the works as the sector has been in decline for decades.

Labor Department figures show that total factory employment peaked in 1979 at nearly 19.6 million jobs. With just under 13 million manufacturing jobs now, the U.S. is unlikely to return to that level because of automation and trade.

Adam Ozimek, chief economist at EIG, said jobs can be a flawed way to measure a manufacturing revival. He said better metrics include an increase in factory output, whether the U.S. can shift to renewable energy to blunt climate change and whether the government can achieve its national security goals of having a stronger supply chain.

"It's way too early to declare anything like a manufacturing renaissance," Ozimek said. "We are decades into structurally declining manufacturing employment. And it's not at all clear yet whether the positive trends are going to outweigh that continuing headwind."

Black Feather fire continues to grow in Santa Fe National Forest — Alice Fordham, KUNM

A fire burning about 44 miles northwest of Santa Fe has grown to about 2,500 acres, and firefighters are working to clear vegetation along a forest road in an effort to contain it.

At present the fire is zero percent contained.

The Black Feather Fire, south of Gallina, is the largest of several wildfires burning after a period of hot, windy weather, including one near Navajo Lake and another near Dulce.

A Southwest Area Incident Management Team will take command of the Black Feather fire tomorrow/today [WEDS], and firefighters are already working to provide structure protection to private property and other infrastructure in the area.

A number of nearby communities have been placed on alert mode for evacuation, but the Rio Arriba county sheriff's office has not yet ordered evacuation.

The Santa Fe National Forest is finalizing a closure order for the area surrounding the fire, and people are strongly discouraged from unnecessary travel on Forest Road 103.

How extreme heat takes a toll on the mind and body, according to experts — Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The Southwestern U.S. is bracing for another week of blistering temperatures, with forecasters on Monday extending an excessive heat warning through the weekend for Arizona's most populated area, and alerting residents in parts of Nevada and New Mexico to stay indoors.

The metro Phoenix area is on track to tie or to break a record set in the summer of 1974 for the most consecutive days with the high temperature at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius). Even the morning low temperatures are tying historic records.

Along the U.S.-Mexico border, federal agents reported that extreme temperatures over the weekend contributed to 45 people being rescued and another 10 dying.

With so many consecutive days of excessive heat, forecasters, physicians and local health officials throughout the Southwest are recommending that people limit their outdoor exposure and know the warning signs of heat illness.



From heavy sweating and dizziness to muscle spasms and even vomiting, experts say heat exhaustion and heat stroke are likely to become more common. In coming decades, the U.S. is expected to experience higher temperatures and more intense heat waves.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and happens when the body loses its ability to sweat.

The skin gets hot and red, and the pulse quickens as the person's body temperature climbs to 103 F (39 C) or higher. Headaches set in, along with nausea, confusion and even fainting.

Jon Femling, an emergency medicine physician and scientist at the University of New Mexico, said the body tries to compensate by pumping blood to the skin as a way to cool off. And the more a person breathes, the more they lose fluids, becoming increasingly dehydrated.

Important electrolytes like sodium and potassium also can be lost when sweating.

"So one of the first things that happens is, your muscles start to feel tired as your body starts to shunt away," he said. "And then you can start to have organ damage where your kidneys don't work, your spleen, your liver. If things get really bad, then you start to not be perfusing your brain the same way."

Experts say it's important to recognize the signs of heat stroke in others, as people may not realize the danger they're in because of an altered mental state that may involve confusion.

In the case of heat stroke, experts suggest calling 911 and trying to lower the person's body temperature with cool, wet cloths or a cool bath.

With heat exhaustion, the body can become cold and clammy. Other signs include heavy sweating, nausea, muscle cramps, weakness and dizziness. Experts say the best thing to do is to move to a cool place, loosen clothing and sip some water.

Older people, children and those with health conditions can face greater risks when the temperatures are high.

During extreme heat events, one of the most common ways people can die is from cardiovascular collapse, experts said, because of the extra energy the heart has to expend to help the body compensate for the hot temperatures.

In general, health officials say staying indoors, seeking air-conditioned buildings and drinking more water than usual can stave off heat-related illnesses. Caffeine and alcohol are no-nos. Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day can help.



Researchers at Arizona State University are trying to better understand the effects of extreme heat on the body and what makes hot weather so deadly.

They're using a special thermal mannequin called ANDI that is outfitted with nearly three dozen different surface areas that are individually controlled with temperature sensors and human-like pores that produce beads of sweat.

"A lot of research that I and my colleagues do is just really focused on understanding how people are responding to higher levels of extreme heat over longer periods of time and then what we can do about it," said Jenni Vanos, an associated professor at ASU's School of Sustainability.

There are 10 thermal mannequins in existence, with most used by athletic clothing companies for testing. ASU's manikin is the first that can be used outdoors thanks to a unique, internal cooling channel.

The university also has developed a new "warm room," or heat chamber where researchers can simulate heat-exposure scenarios from around the globe. Temperatures can reach 140 F (60 C) inside the room — and wind and solar radiation can be controlled for experiments.

Vanos said measuring short- and long-wave radiation in the environment can also tell researchers how much a surface — or a person — in a specific location of a city would heat up.

"And so under these extreme conditions, what's going to really be able to be modified or changed within the urban environment is shade," she said. "In a place like Phoenix or really any sunny hot area, shade is a really critical factor to be able to reduce that overall heat load of the human body."



While air conditioners are cranked up and fans are blowing full blast, residents across the region are anxiously awaiting the start of the monsoon season, hoping it will help to keep the heat at bay.

But so far, the summer thunderstorms — which usually bring cloud cover, lightning and downpours to the Southwestern desert — are absent due to the ongoing El Niño weather pattern, National Weather Service meteorologist Sam Meltzer said.

"It looks like things are going to be abnormally dry over the next couple of months," Meltzer said, noting that storms that might break the heat depend on wind patterns drawing moist air from the Gulf of California into Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

"But that doesn't mean we aren't going to get thunderstorm activity," Meltzer said. "It just might be delayed."

Meltzer worked in Phoenix before transferring last winter to Las Vegas. He noted that while temperatures rose last month in the Phoenix area, June stayed abnormally cool in southern Nevada.

The official daytime temperature at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas remained below 100 F (37.8 C) for a record 294 days before temperatures reached 102 F (38.9 C) on June 30. The previous record of 290 days, from 1964 to 1965, had stood for 58 years.

Still, it's not just the air temperature that people need to worry about, Vanos said. Humidity can make it more difficult for the body to use sweating as a way to cool off.


Associated Press writers Ken Ritter in Las Vegas and Walter Berry in Phoenix contributed to this report.


This story was first published on July 10, 2023. It was updated on August 8, 2023 to make clear that evaporation of sweat is one way the body can cool down.

Ahead of NM visit, Biden commits to fully pay local governments for damage from Cerro Pelado Fire - By Megan Gleason, Source New Mexico

President Joe Biden said the federal government will pay for public recovery from yet another wildfire the U.S. Forest Service started in New Mexico in 2022.

The White House announced Tuesday morning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 100% of eligible public repair projects following damage in Sandoval and Los Alamos counties caused by the Cerro Pelado Fire, a 2022 blaze that emerged from an active pile burn left after a prescribed burn.

Biden amended New Mexico’s disaster declaration that was set up in response to damage caused by 2022’s Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

This means permanent restoration work needed from damage by the Cerro Pelado Fire on buildings, roads and bridges, water facilities and utilities should be fully covered by the federal government.

Previously, FEMA only completely paid for debris removal and emergency protective measure work done in Sandoval and Los Alamos counties.

The federal money only goes to local governments and other public entities, not to individuals.

Households affected by the Cerro Pelado Fire are still not eligible for compensation from the wildfire, according to FEMA’s disaster declaration website.

This comes a few weeks after the U.S. Forest Service said that its crews left a debris pile not fully extinguished, leading to the Cerro Pelado Fire. A similar mistake led to the Calf Canyon Fire, which merged with the Hermits Peak Fire to become New Mexico’s largest wildfire in history.

The federal government is compensating victims of that massive wildfire for their losses. That’s not yet true for Cerro Pelado Fire victims.

New Mexico’s federal delegation is committed to making that happen.

In the coming weeks, U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján plans to introduce legislation to expand the FEMA claims office to include Cerro Pelado Fire victims, Lujan’s spokesperson Adán Serna said.

The legislative proposal would likely not include a new appropriation for Cerro Pelado Fire victims, instead pulling compensation from the same $3.95 billion approved by Congress in 2022 for Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire victims, according to Luján’s office.

The Los Alamos fire burned over 45,000 acres and destroyed 10 buildings, a much smaller scale than the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a statement to Source NM that since the U.S. Forest Service caused that damage, it only makes sense that the federal government pays for all the resulting recovery costs.

“The New Mexico Congressional Delegation will continue to deliver the federal resources New Mexicans need to make a full recovery from last year’s historic wildfire season and to restore the health of the forests and watersheds that our communities rely on,” Heinrich said.

All this news comes down as Biden travels to New Mexico on Tuesday for a campaign event in Albuquerque. On Wednesday he will hold an event on infrastructure and climate change in Belen.

Patrick Lohmann contributed to this reporting

FEMA pushes out more disaster relief funds for people harmed by northern NM fire - By Megan Gleason, Source New Mexico

Victims of New Mexico’s largest fire ever got a boost in federal compensation funds over the past week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced on Monday that officials have now delivered at least $14 million to people and governments affected by the 2022 Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

Most of that money went to individuals and families, FEMA spokesperson Deborah Martinez said.

It’s been a slow-moving process to get money into the hands of victims since Congress approved $3.95 billion in relief dollars eight months ago. The federal government promised to pay for disaster damage and losses since botched prescribed burns by the U.S. Forest Service led to the out-of-control wildfire in northern New Mexico.

Last month, ProPublica in partnership with Source NM reported that FEMA had only paid out about $3 million. At most, $400,000 could’ve gone to individuals.

The bulk of the money went to the city of Las Vegas, N.M. On Monday, Martinez confirmed that at some point over the summer, Mora and San Miguel Counties also got $100,000.

Now, FEMA has boosted payouts to people and families, reportedly giving out almost $11 million to individuals in the past week alone, according to FEMA’s news release sent out on Monday.

That’s still less than 1% of the total funds Congress made available for victims.

FEMA said payments are increasing on a daily basis.

NM congressional candidate Yvette Herrell took donation from fake elector in 2022 - Andrew Beale, Source New Mexico

New Mexico’s fake electors have not (yet) been charged with any crimes related to their interference in the 2020 election–but they’ve become central to an unprecedented criminal case against former president Donald Trump.

Now, Source NM can reveal, one of them donated thousands last year to former Republican Congresswoman and current congressional candidate Yvette Herrell.

Deborah Maestas, a fake elector who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee last year, is a former chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico. She has a long history of campaign donations in New Mexico, giving a combined tens of thousands of dollars to Republican politicians over the past two decades, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

In August 2022, more than a year and a half after Maestas submitted a fraudulent electoral vote in support of Trump, Herrell accepted $2,900 dollars from Maestas, the maximum contribution allowed for that election cycle.

Herrell served four terms in the New Mexico House of Representatives before running for Congress in 2018, losing to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small. Herrell won election to Congress in 2020 but was defeated the following election, losing to Democrat Gabe Vasquez last year.


After votes are counted in a Presidential election, each state meets to certify the election results and send the tally of electoral votes to Congress.

Republican parties in seven states that Trump lost – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – sent “alternate” electoral college votes to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to have the votes counted for Trump instead of Biden.

Legal scholars generally consider these votes to be fraudulent, and even some of the Trump campaign’s own lawyers involved in the scheme privately questioned whether they were breaking the law.

She is running again in the 2024 election, and has received around $400,000 in political contributions this year, according to the latest FEC reports.

Herrell’s campaign disclosures have raised eyebrows in the past; according to the Associated Press, in 2018 she failed to disclose $400,000 worth of state contracts she had received through her real-estate company.

Herrell did not respond to a request for comment.

Source NM sent an email seeking comment from Maestas to DeliverFund, an anti-human-trafficking organization where she serves on the board, but received no response.

Ash Soular, a spokeswoman for the Republican Party of New Mexico, told Source NM via email that the party has no comment on Trump’s indictment or Maestas’ donation to Herrell at this time.

New Mexico’s fake electors in the Trump indictment

The latest indictment against Trump, the third this year, alleges he broke federal law by conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Central to the scheme, according to the indictment, were fake electors in seven states.

This follows a separate federal indictment over his handling of classified documents, and an indictment in New York state alleging he illegally falsified business records.

Trump and his co-conspirators “organized fraudulent slates of electors in seven targeted states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin), attempting to mimic the procedures that the legitimate electors were supposed to follow under the Constitution and other federal and state laws,” according to the indictment.

It adds that some of the fake electors “were tricked into participating based on the understanding that their votes would be used only if the Defendant succeeded in outcome-determinative lawsuits within their state, which the Defendant never did.”

In New Mexico, the fake electoral votes cast by Maestas and four other Republicans (Jewll Powdrell, Lupe Garcia, Anissa Ford-Tinnin and Rosie Tripp) contained a caveat that the votes were being submitted “on the understanding that it might later be determined that we are the duly elected and qualified Electors for President and Vice President.”

Trump lost New Mexico by over 100,000 votes, or more than ten percent. According to the indictment, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in New Mexico six minutes before the deadline for the electors to submit their votes, “as a pretext so that there was pending litigation there at the time the fraudulent electors voted.”

That lawsuit focused on ballot drop boxes in New Mexico, seeking to throw out some or all of the absentee votes deposited in drop boxes around the state. The campaign voluntarily dropped the lawsuit less than a month later.


The mastermind behind the fake-electors scheme, according to the latest indictment as well as the Jan. 6 committee report and extensive reporting by national news outlets, was Santa Fe-based attorney John Eastman.

Eastman is referred to only as “Co-Conspirator 2” in the indictment, but he is easily identifiable based on a detailed description of his background and actions included in the indictment.

Eastman, who is fighting a disbarment proceeding in California over his actions following the 2020 election, allegedly helped craft a plan to overturn the election using the fake slates of electors in seven states, and wrote a memo proposing that then-Vice President Mike Pence step in to overturn the election results, using the fake electors’ invalid electoral votes to appoint Trump president for a second term. According to the indictment, Eastman acknowledged at the time that his proposal violated the Electoral Count Act.

Eastman has not contributed to Herrell’s campaign, but he has contributed to several other New Mexico campaigns in past cycles, including donations to failed gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti and state representative John Block (R-Alamogordo).

The Jan. 6 committee recommended that Eastman be prosecuted for his role in attempting to overturn the election results, but like New Mexico’s fake electors, he has yet to face criminal charges for his actions.