Politics has always been a dirty business. It used to be more fun, though.

Once while making a campaign speech, President William Howard Taft faced hecklers who were more aggressive than usual. One threw a cabbage at Taft.

He paused as the vegetable landed at his feet. Then Taft said, “One of my opponents has apparently lost his head.”

It’s unclear whether Taft was that witty under pressure, or if he staged the confrontation so he could deliver a rehearsed line.

Maybe it was hardball, or maybe a hard vegetable was used as a prop. Either way, Taft fought his adversaries with a sense of humor.

Many of today’s politicians, such as state Rep. Gregg Schmedes, prefer wild rants.

I recently wrote a column criticizing Schmedes, R-Tijeras, for his statement implying that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the five-member state Supreme Court had conspired on a case.

“Bad news: New Mexico Supreme Court just overturned the restraining order issued against the governor,” Schmedes wrote on Twitter. “Must be nice to be able to pick up the phone and influence the judicial process. Corruption?”

Schmedes had no evidence of Lujan Grisham phoning Supreme Court justices and somehow getting them to do her bidding. He knew nothing about any corruption.

The truth had more to do with emotion than reason. Schmedes didn’t like a judicial ruling, so he whined about it.

But he failed to consider that his mention of corruption also was an attack on the Supreme Court justices, including Republican Judith Nakamura.

Perhaps Schmedes, a candidate for the state Senate in District 19, hoped to rile up his supporters for the fall campaign. If so, he succeeded.

I’ve heard from a few of Schmedes’ fans. They said his tactics were justified.

One was Stephan Helgesen, a retired U.S. diplomat who was director of the state Office of Science and Technology under Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

“I see that you got your Democrat hatchet sharpened,” Helgesen wrote in an email. “You managed to get a couple good chops in on Rep. Gregg Schmedes who is merely playing the Democrats’ game. Kudos to him for not pulling any punches. It’s time they got a dose of their own medicine, and you deserve a little yourself. Stop using negative words like ‘cohorts’ to describe Republicans unless of course you use it to describe the Dems as well.”

Schmedes didn’t have a shred of proof that the governor and Supreme Court justices were corrupt. But Helgesen praised Schmedes for candor.

Helgesen had an explanation for excusing Schmedes’ unsupported allegation.

“Anyone who’s lived in New Mexico for any length of time knows there is a long history of ‘coziness’ between high levels of government, certainly among those in the Democratic Party,” Helgesen said. “We are the most corrupt state in the union, bar none. Schmedes made no outright allegation. Granted, he could have chosen another way to frame it, but he just did what all of the Democrats do, time and time again.

“We Conservatives are getting pretty fed up with the sanctimonious ‘do as I say, not do as I do’ Left in this state. None of us like corruption, but it’s high time to question the motives of some of our leaders. Wouldn’t you agree?”

All public officials are subject to questioning, and Schmedes has jumped to the top of the list.

His claim that the executive and judicial branches might have colluded on a case has caused scrutiny he’d rather avoid.

If Schmedes has good reason for suspecting a fix in a Supreme Court decision, he should let the public in on his secret. I’ve invited him to do so, but he hasn’t responded.

Schmedes’ motive for smearing Lujan Grisham was self-serving and against the public good. He wanted to pit people who are suffering against a governor who’s in the rival party.

By doing this, Schmedes hoped voters would see him as a man of the people while viewing Lujan Grisham as someone insensitive to their problems during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Helgesen softened his stand a little.

“I don’t excuse Gregg’s ‘tweet,’ ” Helgesen wrote in a follow-up email. “I am simply pointing out that the ideology shared by the executive branch and the judiciary not to mention the legislature (majority) means that it’s not even necessary to exchange phone calls. It’s because everybody’s on the same page. I spent 20 years working in the federal government both here in the U.S. and overseas as well as four years working for a Democratic power broker (Richardson) and I can tell you that there is such a thing as a ‘deep state.’ ”

Conspiracy theories are exotic. But it’s always better to show than tell.

A crowd saw someone throw that cabbage at Taft.

Schmedes has yet to show us any evidence of the governor calling the Supreme Court to prevent justice for all.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnewmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

(11) comments

Carlos Montoya

Let's talk about the magnificent of the corruption in the Richardson administration!! How much time do you have??

Stefanie Beninato

CORRECTION Well, well, well, picking the low hanging fruit there, Milan. But you didn't want to take on judge Bryan Biedscheid. Lying about case holdings, making up law and fact--apparently all OK in your world. How about the extensive perjury of Rebecca Jacoby that the judge allowed and abetted? How about his finding that despite Jacoby's lights coming into my house (a clearly defined private nuisance) that I should BUY black out shades--not that Jacoby should pay for it. However under no accepted theory of law, I am to pay my lying neighbor $1400 to remove a peace symbol from my own wall....Biedscheid also refused to correct three obvious, signficant errors in the log of one hearing--oh because someone can listen to the tape--so false information in the log---no big deal for Biedschied. This case is only the tip of the iceberg. How about a real investigation of this seemingly corrupt/incompetent/biased judge who takes property without proof?

Stefanie Beninato

Well, well, well, picking the low hanging fruit there, Milan. But you didn't want to take no judge Bryan Biedscheid. Lying about case holdings, making up law and fact--apparently all OK in your world. How about the extensive perjury of Rebecca Jacoby that the judge allowed and abetted? How about his finding that despite the Jacoby's lights coming into my house (a clearly defined private nuisance) that I should BUY black out shades--not that Jacoby should pay for it. However under no accepted theory of law, I am to pay my lying neighbor $1400 to remove a peace symbol from my own wall....Biedscheid also refused to make three obvious errors in the log of one hearing--oh because someone can listen to the tape--so false information in the log---no big deal for Biedschied. This case is only the tip of the iceberg. How about a real investigation of this seemingly corrupt/incompetent/biased judge who takes property without proof?

Indrid Cold

Yeeeeah, MLG would NEVER pick up the phone and flex her power with an unethical personal request... I guess someone’s forgetting the time, just after she shut down all non essential business, she picked up the phone and gave special reopening privileges to a jewelry store, just so that SHE could make a purchase... She lost so many jobs for New Mexicans and treated herself to some trinkets.

Also...If we have such GREAT judges, why do we have the worst crime? I’ll tell you why. Our judges. We put them in jail and they let them out. It’s that simple. Career criminal felons, caught with stolen APD firearms... released on a “technicality”. No federal prison time as the law states. That’s just one example I’ll share.

I hate when journalists talk a good game of evidence, but always seem to forget or twist facts in their stories, just to push a more popular narrative.

Stefanie Beninato

Our judges are not great. Miles Hanisee who through attrition is now chief judge at the court of appeals fraudulently represented the lower court's findings so he would not have to reverse. He also went outside pleadings and evidence to find that a flood did not damage my home despite city appraiser's report and much other evidence to the contrary.

Most recently Bryan Biedschied had a case he should have dismissed because my neighbor had no probable cause to claim damages, ownership of the ROW or ownership of my wall. Who cares? Biedscheid allowed my lying neighbor to bring in a claim that had already been dismissed at city court for lack of proof of ownership. It didnt stop Biedscheid. After all looking at a peace symbol on your neighbor's wall is the same as having your foundation cracked due to tree roots from an adjoining property owner or having a cattle feed lot next door that makes your home UNinhabitable. Biedscheid actually misrepresented the holding saying that if I agreed with a prior owner that he could one time, personal to him stucco my N wall that the next owner was entitled to some benefit or right--of course undefined. Biedscheid also calls ADMISSION of lack of probable cause and perjury "jumping to the wrong conclusion. IMHO neither of the these two judges should be practicing law let alone deciding other people's fates.

Mike Johnson

Partisan bias, and the blind ignorance that it brings about, must be bliss. Why of course the elite power brokers of the Democratic Party running our three branches of government never think about their associates, friends, cronies, or relatives when making decisions about things. And of course the NM Supreme Court, like all courts in this state, is completely impartial and totally nonpartisan, as well as supremely competent in all things, especially since Judge Judy has come to the dark side to get along, and decided to retire since she was bringing no diversity of any kind to this court. And of course we know there is no corruption in this state and the fact that the Democratic party has had a strangle hold on 2-3 branches of all government since FDR, has nothing to do with this culture of corruption and the fact we are last in most all categories in the US, and have been for many decades under their near-monopoly rule. Ah, the life of a left wing zealot must be so pleasant, nothing is ever our fault, and anyone who even entertains it must provide rock-solid evidence (a tape of that phone call perhaps?), and so it goes.....

Chris Mechels

Not to forget the media, and Milan, who spills a lot of ink about the hapless Republicans, like Steve Pearce, who is actually a very accomplished man. Putting his records next to MLG's record, and Steve wins. Still Milan attacks him. The New Mexican, and Milan, will not write about the obvious, such as the SFPD refusal to put their policies online, so we can see what they are enforcing against us.

Milan's blinders are about a foot thick, and he attacks others for being blind.

The New Mexican these days, Ray left, is simply an arm of the Trifecta, and should be seen as such. A disgrace... with Milan one of the worst.

Cleve Spence

LOL! Helgesen said. “We are the most corrupt state in the union, bar none. NJ?NY?TX? GA? LA? just for starters!

Stefanie Beninato

We are generally thought of as the second most corrupt state behind only LA. I know that people from NJ, Illinois and RI (former mayor) may feel disgruntled at these rankings but get over it.

Scott Smart

Trump like politics, the more outrageous the lie the bettet

William Craig

Helgesen reflects on his years under his old boss Richardson:

“. . . [T]he ideology shared by the executive branch and the judiciary not to mention the legislature (majority) means that it’s not even necessary to exchange phone calls. It’s because everybody’s on the same page. . . . [T]here is such a thing as a ‘deep state.’ ”

It also helps that this newspaper is on the same page, and that the spokesman for the sitting governess was previously a reporter at the paper.

Everybody was on the same page in the pages of Pravda, too, since anyone who questioned the party orthodoxy found that Big Brother was gagging them.

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