Powerful Hinkle Shanor Law Firm and Governor Grisham accused of Corruption and Nepotism in Legislative Shuffle that will give two Hinkle Partners Advantage in 2024 Election. Citizens Demand Investigation.

February 9, 2024


The Editor


On January 14th a letter to the editor was published in the Roswell Daily Record that drew attention to an apparent illegal act perpetrated by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Roswell County Commission, and members of the powerful Hinkle Shanor Law Firm. The letter references multiple questionable actions that took place during a recent legislative shuffle initiated by the October 2023 retirement of Republican Senator Stuart Ingle, representative for New Mexico’s 27th Senate District.

When a representative leaves office before the completion of their term, state law allows the county commissions of the affected district to each send one recommendation to the Governor for appointment to the vacated position. Ingle’s senate district covers Chaves, De Baca, Curry, Lea, and Roosevelt Counties. Chaves, DeBaca, and Curry Counties all recommended sitting Republican Representative Greg Nibert, who was representing House District 59 at the time. The other counties put forth two other names, but Nibert was the only person called for an in-person interview with Governor Grisham, who then appointed Nibert to the vacant Senate seat on January 5th.

Then Nibert’s position in the House of Representatives needed to be filled. House District 59 lies entirely within Chaves County, meaning only the Chaves County Commission would have any input on the recommendation to the Governor. Eight nominees were put forward. The Chaves County Commission narrowed the field down to four names, then unanimously recommended Jared Hembree to represent District 59 on January 12, 2023. Since Chaves County is the only county in District 59, their recommendation is effectively an appointment.

This sounds like a straightforward process on the surface, but there are a dizzying number of conflicts of interest and apparent illegalities that are actually taking place: Both Greg Nibert and his replacement Jared Hembree are partners at the Hinkle Law Firm which has a lucrative, ongoing contract with the State of New Mexico. Another Hinkle partner, T. Calder Ezzell Jr. happens to sit on the Chaves County Commission where he cast a nepotistic vote to send his own partner to the legislature to fill the vacancy of his other partner, Greg Nibert. Nibert and Hembree are now in Santa Fe where they join Candy Spence Ezzell, who Represents House District 58 and is the wife of T. Calder Ezzell, Chaves County Commissioner and Hinkle Partner.

Greg Nibert, Hinkle Shanor Partner and Appointed District 27 Senator
Jared Hembree, Hinkle Shanor Partner and Appointed District 59 Representative
T. Calder Ezzell Jr., Hinkle Shanor Partner, Chaves County Commissioner, Husband to State Representative Candy Spence Ezzell
Candy Spence Ezzell, District 58 Representative, Wife of T. Calder Ezzell, Hinkle Shanor Partner and Chaves County Commissioner

With four representatives with strong personal interest in the advancement of Hinkle Shanor Law Firm, Hinkle has more representation in the state legislature than most New Mexico counties. The approximate boundaries of the districts represented by these three individuals is shown in the figure below:

Districts Represented by Hinkle Shanor Law Firm Partners and Partner’s Wife

Of course, Nibert and Hembree will have to defend their appointments from Governor Grisham through the election process. Nibert already has a Republican Primary challenger, Larry Marker, who will face off with him in June. Hembree is currently running unopposed in the Primary, but he will certainly have to defend his seat during the November 2024 election. However, having the incumbent position is considered a strong advantage in electoral politics and Governor Grisham and nepotism have given them both a leg up over their field of challengers.

Which leads us to ask why Grisham would be assisting Nibert, a Republican who has campaigned on promises to curtail her emergency powers?

Efforts to limit Grisham’s emergency powers have strong popular support after the she thoroughly abused them during COVID, leading to New Mexico having among the worst health outcomes in the nation. But any success in limiting her emergency powers would upset Grisham’s latest scheme to cancel second amendment rights using a “health emergency.”

Grisham’s assistance of Nibert gets less puzzling when you understand the concept of controlled opposition. Controlled opposition is when a person positions himself as the leader of a movement that is opposing the government. But that leader is really a government ally who intends to be unsuccessful in his efforts of opposition, thereby insulating the government and allowing it to control the outcome of the struggle.

It turns out that while Nibert was claiming to be trying to curtail Grisham’s power in the legislature, his law firm was defending Grisham against what was one of the most flagrant acts of tyranny suffered by New Mexicans during the lockdowns:

In May of 2020, Grisham imposed one of the most extreme mask mandates in the country – masks were to be worn by everyone over the age of two as soon as they left their homes, even when they were alone outside. As it turns out, there was never any scientific evidence that masks curtailed the spread of COVID, just like there was never any reason to think that COVID could be contained by lockdowns after it had already been allowed to spread across the globe for months before countries started locking down – facts which have recently been admitted in the mainstream press.

But Grisham kept these extreme, useless measures in place long after most states had reopened and were back to normal. Naturally, this took a heavy toll on school children who missed months of school during the lockdowns and were forced to wear masks when they were allowed to go back to school, depriving them of all normal social interaction. Chronic absenteeism in students more than doubled in New Mexico during Grisham’s reign of tyranny and has stayed at record high levels in the years since.

In July 2021, after the mask and social distancing mandates had been in place over a year and with no end in sight, the Floyd School Board had had enough and voted with support of the parents in their tiny district to make masks and social distancing optional for the 2021-2022 school year. Grisham’s Public Education Department (PED) immediately threatened the Floyd School Board with suspension if it did not rescind its decision. The Board refused to continue forcing masks and social distancing on their students, claiming they had the authority as local elected officials to make them optional. Days later, Grisham’s PED filed suit against the board and had a district judge in Santa Fe remove them. The children in the Floyd School District were forced to wear masks at school for another year.

Who did Governor Grisham rely on to remove this rebellious school board so she could continue forcing children to wear masks? None other than the Hinkle Shanor Law Firm. Three lawyers from Hinkle – two of them partners – fought this case for Governor Grisham’s PED against the Floyd School Board. There is no way that Senator Greg Nibert, as a partner at Hinkle, was not fully aware that his law firm was acting as a hired gun for the Governor to force masks on children.

Unseating a school board for the sin of standing up for the rights of children is not the only way the Hinkle Shanor Law Firm has assisted the radical regime ruling New Mexico. In 2021, the New Mexico Legislature redistricted the three congressional districts in New Mexico so that they would all three lean Democrat. Before the redistricting, the Second Congressional District was historically competitive or leaned Republican.

The Republican party sued claiming illegal gerrymandering. The judge in the case agreed that Democrats had clearly drawn the district to give Democrats an advantage in all three districts. But the judge couldn’t bring himself to characterize their gerrymandering as “egregious” and allowed the redrawn districts to stand. Hinkle Shanor attorneys represented the state in this case, which effectively removed all Republican voices from the entire federal congressional delegation from New Mexico.

The irony of Hinkle Shanor representing the gerrymanderers in this case is that according to their website, a large portion of their business comes from the oil and gas industry. New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District has historically covered the oil-producing parts of New Mexico. After the 2022 General Election, all three U.S. Representatives are now radical democrats who are on board with extreme policies and are openly working to replace oil and gas with “green” initiatives. Hinkle Shanor’s assistance in destroying their clients’ representation at the federal level is a conflict of interest bordering on malpractice.

So why would Hinkle Shanor sell out a large part of their client base to defend the State’s gerrymandering? Perhaps it has something to do with their lucrative contract with the State of New Mexico. According to public documents, the State has paid the Hinkle Shanor Law Firm $2.36 million dollars over the last four years – more than any other law firm in the state excepting Miller Stratvert, which received $2.41 million. Why would Greg Nibert, Jared Hembree, or Candy Spence Ezzell do anything for their constituents that might upset that gravy train?

Not only does all this stink of corruption and nepotism, but a law exists to prevent egregious conflicts of interest like this from arising in the first place. It can be found in the New Mexico Constitution, Article IV, Section 28:

“No member of the legislature shall, during the term for which he was elected nor within one year thereafter, be interested directly or indirectly in any contract with the state…”

If the law means anything, either the ongoing contract Hinkle has with the state should cease, or Nibert and Hembree should resign their seats immediately. Citizens of Chaves and Roosevelt Counties are currently collecting signatures to force an official investigation into the matter. Approximately 600 signatures are needed. If you live in Chaves or Roosevelt Counties and are interested in adding your name or for more information, send a text message to Larry Marker at 575-246-8336.

Written by The Editor