Candidate profiles: Attorney general

The following are candidates for state Attorney General in the June 1 primary election.

Incumbent Gary King is running unopposed for the Democrat nomination.

Matt Chandler is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.

Both were asked the same set of questions.

Matt Chandler

Republican

Q: What are your specific goals for this position if elected?

My number one goal as attorney general will be to unearth political corruption in New Mexico and hold those that are involved accountable.

My experiences as district attorney prove that I am willing to take corruption cases head-on, opposed to one that makes prosecutorial decisions based upon political beliefs and same party agendas. I will not turn a blind eye to government corruption, rather make it a goal to protect taxpayers’ money.

I have the utmost respect for law enforcement officers and I have seen the benefits citizens receive when law enforcement officers work together. So in addition to my pledge to lead the fight against political corruption in New Mexico, I will work with all federal, state, and local law enforcement officers to deploy the full arsenal of resources available to reduce crime in New Mexico.

New Mexico businesses have been wrapped with so much red tape that it’s driving millions of dollars out of our state.

Most of the regulations as of late are based on political opinions, not facts, and are being imposed without legislative authority. As attorney general I will intervene to make sure regulations are not imposed on businesses without good cause, which will allow businesses to get back to work in New Mexico.

Q: What persons or organizations have you accepted money from to finance your campaign?

I am extremely pleased with our grassroots campaign and fundraising efforts.

So far 93 (percent) of my contributions are from New Mexico citizens, which is evidence that New Mexicans want a change in the attorney general’s office. To date, I have over 220 personal donors.

Q: What do you know about laws concerning open government in New Mexico and how would you change them?

Government officials ought to conduct the public’s business in the public. The laws in New Mexico about open government are straightforward. New Mexicans are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officers and employees.

Our open government laws do not need to be changed, they need to be enforced. An open government creates an honest government, and as attorney general it will be my goal to bring transparency to those that are trusted with our tax dollars.

Q: Tell us about someone who was an important influence in your life.

The most influential people in my life are involved in my faith and my family.

For example, my father’s career as a police officer greatly influenced my career path. As a child I was always so proud to see my dad working to protect our community, and I wanted to follow those footsteps.

He taught me to have faith and trust in God, compassion for people that need it most, and to do the right thing for the right reason regardless of the circumstances.

Q: What do you think is more important: Education or experience?

A: Education is important in life because it is the vehicle that leads you to great experiences. Without my education, I would have never had the opportunity to take on drug dealers, violent gangs, or successfully prosecute over 20 murder cases in court.

Gary King

Democrat (incumbent)

Q: What are your specific goals for this position if elected?

A: My goal has been and continues to be to lead the attorney general’s office to be the premier law firm in the state of New Mexico. The result of this goal will be to carry out the mission I have assigned to the office in the best manner possible.

Our mission is the protection of all New Mexico citizens. We particularly focus on protection of our young people through presentations at schools regarding the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, Internet safety and avoidance of bullying and cyberbullying.

We also aggressively are pursuing and convicting Internet predators who prey on our young people.

We will continue to work in conjunction with U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels to fight crime in the border region and interdict trafficking in drugs, arms, money and human beings.

I have implemented task forces to combat domestic violence, human trafficking and animal cruelty. Each has been recognized for their effectiveness.

I will continue to build the office’s capabilities in consumer protection.

I created the first Government Accountability Unit within the attorney general’s office and have brought major prosecutions against public officials who have violated the public trust. We will continue to pursue current cases and investigate leads of corruption at all levels of government. We will continue to provide information and training to senior citizens and other vulnerable populations to avoid scams and Ponzi schemes and expand our outreach to additional communities.

I have also been working with key legislators to allow this office to intervene more effectively to address insurance rates in New Mexico.

Q: What persons or organizations have you accepted money from to finance your campaign?

A: I have received contributions from more than 200 individuals and organizations in New Mexico. Some major contributors include attorneys, such as my former law partners at Law and Resource Planning Associates, and businesses such as agriculture, oil and gas and real estate agencies.

I have also received contributions from organizations such as the National Rifle Association and Animal Protection Voters of New Mexico. The greatest number of my contributions have come from individual citizens. I have also made a substantial contribution of my own funds to the campaign. All contributions are publicly disclosed in filings to the New Mexico Secretary of State.

Q: What do you know about laws concerning open government in New Mexico and how would you change them?

A: As a state legislator, I drafted and sponsored the modern versions of the Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act. As attorney general I have updated the compliance guides for these acts and made them available to the public and elected officials through our website and through trainings in communities via my “Road Shows” throughout the state.

My office has enforced the provisions of the law through advisory letters and litigation.

Recently we were successful in a district court action to require the State Environment Department to disclose public documents relating to hydrology around a hazardous waste site. I have proposed legislation to add more enforcement capability to both laws, notably, the addition of criminal penalties to the Inspection of Public Records Act for intentional violations.

Q: Tell us about someone who was an important influence in your life.

A: Certainly the most important influence in my personal and political life is that of my parents, Bruce and Alice King. My father taught me the importance of honesty and integrity in service of the public. He also taught me to work hard every day at whatever job was assigned to me.

My mother taught me to have compassion for my fellow human beings. She also taught me that tenacity will lead to more good results than impulsiveness.

Q: What do you think is more important: Education or experience?

A: A combination of education and experience is the best. I have a quality formal education, a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and (juris doctorate) in law. I also have a significant amount of education through experience. Sometimes that is the education that sticks with you the best.

I also have 27 years of experience in the practice of law, as a sole practitioner, a corporate attorney and as a prosecutor. I have 17 years of experience in government service. Twelve years as a citizen legislator, two years at the assistant secretary level at the U.S. Department Of Energy, and a bit more than three years as New Mexico attorney general. This education and experience, I believe, makes me a quality administrator.