GOP leader has 'no regrets' for Trump certificate

·3 min read

Jan. 23—One New Mexico Republican Party official who signed a document that intended to deliver New Mexico's five electoral votes to Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the 2020 election said he has "no regrets, whatsoever," and he questioned why law enforcement is looking into the matter two years later.

Jewll Powdrell, one of five who signed the document, said in an interview that he put his name on the certificate as a member of the GOP's executive committee in New Mexico. He said the group acted "at the insistence of the chairman of the Republican Party, who is Congressman Steve Pearce."

Last week, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said his office was reviewing the case, and it had also referred the matter to federal law enforcement authorities.

State law makes it a fourth-degree felony for designated electors to cast their ballot for anyone other than the presidential candidate who received the majority of the votes cast in the state. President Joe Biden carried New Mexico by 11 percentage points, which is nearly 100,000 votes.

"My assessment was, why are we doing this now when it was almost two years ago?" Powdrell said of the investigation.

American Oversight, a watchdog group, published certificates submitted by Republicans in seven states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The certificates aimed to award the electoral votes in those states, which were won by Biden, to Trump.

The New Mexico certificate was signed by Powdrell and Deborah Maestas, a former chair of the state Republican Party, Lupe Garcia, an Albuquerque business owner, Rosie Tripp, a former Socorro County commissioner, and Anissa Ford-Tinnin, a former executive director of the state Republican Party.

Efforts to reach the other electors weren't successful. Pearce and other state GOP officials also couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

Powdrell declined to say what the group was hoping to accomplish with its certificate.

"Based on what the attorneys are trying to do, since this was a couple years ago, I've been asked not to give any overt comments about what the intent was," he said.

The New Mexico certificate said it was submitted in case the electors were later recognized as duly elected, qualified electors.

At the time the certificate was filed, the state Republican Party said in a news release that they supported casting competing certificates until litigation over the election was sorted out by the courts.

AIRPORT FUNDING: New Mexico's 46 airports will get to divvy up $18 million in federal airport infrastructure grants that were included in the massive trillion dollar infrastructure bill signed into law last year.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., made a visit to the Belen Regional Airport to announce the funding.

All of New Mexico's Democratic representatives voted for the spending bill, which received some bipartisan support. Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M., voted against the bill.

"Local airports connect communities all across New Mexico to tourism, business opportunities, and commercial aviation," Heinrich said in a statement. "Democrats in the New Mexico delegation fought hard for these historic investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will modernize our airports and allow them to better serve travelers, health care providers, and businesses all across our state."

The amount of money going to each airport varies. The Albuquerque International Sunport will get $7.6 million. Santa Fe Municipal Airport will get $1.6 million. The Belen airport will receive $159,000. Smaller airports and airstrips in the state will receive $110,000.

Ryan Boetel: rboetel@abqjournal.com