Chandler pledges to prosecute state corruption cases

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson District Attorney Matt Chandler and his mother Donna Chandler visit with supporters Thursday following a local announcement of Matt Chandler’s bid for the office of attorney general.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Surrounded by his family, District Attorney Matt Chandler said Thursday he intends to do the job Attorney General Gary King has failed to do.

Chandler, a Republican and Clovis native, announced his bid for attorney general Wednesday in Santa Fe but a similar gathering in Clovis was postponed until Thursday by a winter storm.

Flanked by his wife, three of his four sons and his parents, the 34-year-old Chandler told a packed room at the Clovis-Carver library the attorney general’s office needs a prosecutor, not a politician, calling for change.

Chandler said corruption cases have gone unchecked on King’s watch to the point the U.S. Attorney’s office and the New York Attorney General have had to step in and prosecute New Mexico cases.

“In New Mexico you hear about corruption about as much as you hear ‘would you like red or green chili with that’,” Chandler said. “It’s got to stop.

“New Mexico deserves an attorney general that’s interested in being an attorney general, not an absentee.”

In a telephone interview with the CNJ Thursday afternoon, King said he believes Chandler has allowed himself to be misled by the state Republican party.

King said he has worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s office in prosecuting corruption cases. King also said his office shows a strong record of attacking corruption head-on.

“I’m actually sort of shocked at how ill-informed he is,” King said.

“He has allowed whoever is generating his message to mis-state what my record is,” Kind said, adding that, “The first thing on the path to fighting corruption is to tell the truth.

“It’s sort of disturbing to me that the very first announcement he makes is a personal attack on me and not about what he intends to do as attorney general… I think that people are tired of personal attacks and really want to hear from a candidate about what they can do to solve the problem.”

Nominating petitions for the June 1 primary must be filed by Feb. 9.

Chandler, 34, was first elected district attorney in 2004. The Clovis native ran unopposed in 2008.

King said his intent to seek re-election is known and though he has not scheduled an announcement event, his campaign headquarters will open soon after the state’s legislative session concludes.