Amy Arnett, mother of Magistrate District 1 candidate Bob by Arnett, wrote in a letter to editor that an apology is owed to her son.
But it is not the newspaper that should apologize to her son for publishing an editorial cartoon drawn by Keith Bell that satirized his answers as he responded to questions from the moderator during a recent candidate forum.
Mrs. Arnett and her husband, Eddie, should apologize to their son for what they did – changing their address on their voter registration so they could vote in their son’s district.
I don’t think I could respect my parents, both deceased, if I was running for office and they did something dishonest or even illegal to help me get elected. And I think most law-abiding citizens in Chaves County feel the same.
Let’s review the facts that were already published in the newspaper.
The Arnetts own a house at 7 Stephens Circle, which is in Magistrate District 2, but in March they registered to vote at the address of their family business on Darby Road in Dexter, which is in District 1. Their daughter, Manon, also changed her voter registration to the warehouse-style building in District 1.
All of these facts were not challenged by Eddie Arnett when contacted by the newspaper. He said all questions about his and his wife’s residency had to be referred to his attorney. Asking someone where he or she lives is a very straightforward question that only requires a simple answer. Why would you need to refer someone asking that question to an attorney unless you have something to hide?
Actions speak louder than words. And through their actions, the Arnetts, in a roundabout way, are endorsing their political opponent, sitting District I Magistrate Judge K.C. Rogers. If they believed in their heart that their son and brother could win the election on his own merits, then why have they risked going to jail just to give him three additional votes?
Bobby Arnett has been active throughout his life with the Boy Scouts of America, achieving the distinction of Eagle Scout and serving in Scout leadership roles as an adult.
These are certainly commendable endeavors.
Boy Scouts take an oath to be trustworthy, loyal and morally straight – you can read the complete Scout’s code of honor on the Web.
It is true Bobby Arnett himself did not break the law and legally cannot be held accountable for the actions of his parents. However, if he did have knowledge of his parents and sister’s actions, we would expect him to do the right thing and discourage them from breaking the law for his personal gain. The Boy Scouts of America would expect the same. Conservative Republicans would expect the same.
As a potential judge, Arnett should hold his family members accountable to the same standards he has sworn himself to uphold.
In a statement made to the newspaper, Bobby Arnett claimed his family’s indiscretions are excusable because they were not discovered before the deadline for votes to be officially challenged. This hardly sets a good example for young people: It’s OK to do bad things as long as nobody else is looking or you don’t get caught.
Perhaps Arnett owes an apology to the Boy Scouts of America, and especially to any local troops he may be involved with, for violating his oath. He took a similar oath while attending the New Mexico Military Institute. Perhaps NMMI should be added to the apology list.
I would like to conclude by saying it is not a felony for a newspaper cartoonist to draw a satirical cartoon. That’s their job. Somebody’s always going to get his or her toes stepped on.
It is also not a felony for newspaper editors to use tips from sources, whether they are from the public or fellow employees, to investigate possible criminal activity as long as they verify all of the information through credible sources. The newspaper did this.
It is, however, a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico to falsify information on your voter registration.
Other fourth-degree felonies include involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, burglary and shoplifting items with a value between $500 and $2,500.
A defendant convicted of a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico faces up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000.Though the facts show that the Arnetts very likely committed voter registration fraud, the actual charges would have to be brought by law enforcement.
When you go to the polls this Tuesday, please let your conscience guide you.
If a judicial candidate finds nothing wrong with his own family members potentially committing a felony to help him win the election, how can you trust him if he does get elected?
To watch the May 5 candidate forum on the web, visit www.lraa.info/32nd-candidate-forum/.
Timothy P. Howsare is the editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.