ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – One of New Mexico’s candidates for Governor is downplaying his ties to a co-founder of the radical anti-government Weather Underground.
Democrat Alan Webber has raised the most money out of the five candidates vying for the party’s nomination and the right to take on Governor Susana Martinez in the November election.
It turns out Webber got some fundraising help from a controversial source.
From the late 1960’s to the mid 1970’s, the anti-war group the Weather Underground planted and detonated bombs at targets across the country. The group’s manifesto called for the violent overthrow of the United States government.
One of its founders was Mark Rudd, a former Columbia student and the self-described author of the group’s strategy. Rudd was a fugitive wanted by the FBI for years, but charges were dropped against him and many other Weather Underground members after a Supreme Court decision deemed the federal investigation wasn’t legally conducted.
Rudd has lived in Albuquerque since 1980, teaching at CNM for two and a half decades before retiring. Rudd has repeatedly expressed regret for his actions and the Weather Underground’s actions in recent decades.
A week and a half ago, Rudd’s wife Marla Painter hosted a campaign event for Webber at the couple’s Albuquerque home. One day later, Rudd announced he was endorsing Webber in an email. Rudd acknowledged Webber was an odd choice for him, given Webber’s business past, but wrote he was impressed by the candidate’s understanding of a number of key issues.
“Help elect a pro-jobs, pro-environment progressive Democrat as Governor,” Rudd wrote.
When asked about the endorsement and fundraiser, Webber appeared to distance itself from Rudd and simultaneously defend him in a statement released through his campaign:
I just met Mark Rudd. Of course I denounce terrorism and understand Mark Rudd regrets his involvement with the radical anti-government group from the 1960’s. For over two decades Mark has been a proponent of non-violence and a teacher at CNM. If Governor Martinez wants to discuss her supporters, she should start with the Koch Brothers and Sarah Palin.
The Martinez campaign has not publicly attacked Rudd’s support of Webber.
The Weather Underground’s past has played a role in politics in recent years.
Both Hillary Clinton and the McCain campaign criticized then-candidate Barack Obama’s ties to another Weather Underground founder, Bill Ayers, during the 2008 race. Palin accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists”.
Although Ayers did host an event for Obama in 1995, the President condemned The Weather Underground’s activities as “detestable acts”.
“Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign, he has never been involved in this campaign and he will not advise me in the White House,” Obama said during a 2008 presidential debate.
The attack didn’t stick and the “palling around” allegation was deemed false by many fact-checking organizations.
In an email to KRQE News 13 Monday night, Rudd again expressed regret for the “disastrous and tragic strategy” the Weather Underground pursued but called his ties to Webber a “non-issue”.
“I suspect that if [Gov. Martinez] claims Alan Webber is a friend of a terrorist, it will most likely backfire as badly as Sarah Palin’s use of Pres. Obama’s acquaintance with Bill Ayers,” Rudd wrote.