Republican Lyons, who is seeking re-election to a second four-year term, vehemently denies the contributions from Mike Mechenbier
of the Four Daughters Ranch had anything to do with Lyons' decision to intervene in the 2004 court action.Mechenbier
filed the lawsuit against Isleta Pueblo officials over access to a road.However, Lyons' Democratic opponent, former state Land Commissioner Jim Baca, said the money from Mechenbier shows Lyons is guilty of an "ethical lapse."
..."Mike Mechenbier is a good Republican, a rancher, a hunter and a friend of mine for a long time."
State records show Mechenbier
gave Lyons $250 last year while the Isleta case was still in court, then several contributions totaling $4,225 between October 2005 and June 2006.
, contacted Friday, also denied any connection between the donation and the lawsuit.
"I've given Pat money before and after," he
said of the court case.
"I think (Baca) would be bad for the (ranching) industry, Mechenbier
...The Isleta dispute: A 1997 article in the now-defunct weekly publication Crosswinds listed Mechenbier, a second-generation New Mexico rancher, as the eighth largest landowner in the state.
The paper said he
owned some 135,000 acres in Valencia, Cibola and Socorro counties.Besides owning Four Daughters and other ranches, Mechenbier is president of Sundance Mechanical & Utility Co., an Albuquerque construction company.He is the founder of El Ranchito de Los Ninos, a private, nonprofit home for children near Los Lunas.
In June 2004, Mechenbier
filed a complaint for a temporary restraining order in state District Court in Valencia County against then-Isleta Gov.
claimed for about two years, the defendants locked a gate on a road that ran through Isleta onto his
Four Daughters Ranch.Mechenbier
said the road was a county road, which the pueblo disputed.
"I made them aware of the situation," Mechenbier
said."There's a lot of state land out there that would be inaccessible if that road is blocked."
In the motion to intervene, Lyons' lawyers argued the road in question "provides access to numerous 640-acre sections of state trust land located within and around land owned by (Mechenbier) # lack of access to (Land Office) trust properties leads to the inability of the SLO to lease this property, which would render the property almost valueless."
For a few months, the case was moved to federal court.However, in early 2005, a federal judge ordered it back to state court.
The parties agreed to vacate a hearing scheduled in May 2005.The state lists the case as closed, though Mechenbier
said Friday that no settlement has been reached.But he
said the parties have been negotiating and the road has remained open.
"Hopefully we'll get a settlement in the next month," Mechenbier
"It's a long, complicated deal," he
also has contributed to Democrats.He
...Mechenbier described himself as a big supporter of Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, a Democrat.