Republicans Walk Out Of Meeting To Protest Inappropriate Treatment Of Colleague


SANTA FE – The Republican members of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee walked out of this afternoon’s committee meeting to protest a breakdown of decorum following the tabling of a previously non-controversial bill to protect New Mexico’s children from receiving pornography.

On a party-line vote, the Democrats voted to table House Bill 71, a bill sponsored Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-Valencia) to clarify and strengthen New Mexico’s criminal sexual communications laws. Fajardo has carried this legislation in each of the previous three years, and it passed the House unanimously each year. 

“It is outrageous that the Democrats would try to cloak their soft-on-crime tendencies behind unfounded fiscal concerns,” said Rep. Larry Larrañaga (R-Bernalillo). “Many of these bills have passed the House unanimously in previous sessions. Never have we seen such abuse of the process and aggression directed towards other members. New Mexicans expect us to demonstrate leadership and courage to address the crime and economic problems facing New Mexico. It is extremely disappointing that Democrats would stoop to personal invective and Washington-style gridlock.”

During the committee’s discussion about the bill, Democrats claimed Fajardo’s proposal would put too much of a burden on the state’s budget. The Republican members of the committee vehemently disagreed, and after a tense exchange in which Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Bernalillo) was verbally abusive towards Republican Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes (R-Bernalillo), the Republicans walked out of the committee meeting. Maestas berated Maestas Barnes for a news story about an earlier committee decision to table a bill she had sponsored to expand the state’s Baby Brianna Law, saying Maestas Barnes “sniveled” to a television station about the committee’s vote.

This incident is not the first time that Maestas has exhibited aggressive and abusive behavior towards Maestas Barnes. During the special session floor debate on the Baby Brianna’s Law expansion bill in September 2016, Maestas aggressively approached Maestas Barnes and slammed his fist on her desk.

“This is a sad day for New Mexico. Unfortunately, the petty vindictiveness Rep. Maestas displayed over a news story continues a pattern of abusive and threatening behavior by him. I’m particularly concerned that he repeatedly chooses to direct his hostility towards Rep. Maestas Barnes. Actions like his cannot be tolerated in this body, and I call on the Democrat Leadership of this chamber to put an end to his antics,” said House Minority Whip Rod Montoya (R-San Juan).