By MORGAN LEE Associated Press
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The former leader of the state Workforce Solutions Department that oversees unemployment benefits said Thursday his resignation in April was linked to threatening messages and incidents at the agency and elsewhere.
In a string of Twiter posts, former Cabinet Secretary Bill McCamley disclosed the reasoning behind his decision to resign from the agency. He did not respond to calls and texts to his cellphone seeking further comment.
“I left the position for no other reason than the safety of myself and my family,” McCamley, a former state legislator and county commissioner, said in one tweet. “I have received threats before as a public official, but this time seems different.”
McCamley indicated that he intends to relocate his home outside of New Mexico as a safety precaution.
The statements were made the day after state analysts reported that New Mexico may have overpaid unemployment insurance benefits by as much as $250 million during the pandemic amid a backlog in investigations of claims.
McCamley said his concerns about personal safety grew after a state-owned car was destroyed by an incendiary device and a possibly deranged man called the state labor agency to blame McCamley for unemployment problems and to ask for his address.
New Mexico State Police confirmed that an arson investigation was initiated in November in connection with a vehicle assigned to the Workforce Solutions Department in Las Cruces. Lieutenant Mark Soriano said the investigation is ongoing and that no arrests have been made.
In an email, Soriano also noted that state police were asked to conduct close patrols at the Las Cruces offices of Workforce Solutions “in reference to non-specific threats they had been receiving by clients,” resulting in patrols during March and May.
It was unclear whether McCamley sought out police protection as a Cabinet secretary for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Lujan Grisham spokesman Nora Meyers Sackett said “protocol prevents us from talking about security measures the state has taken or may take for employees facing threats.”
Soriano said state police investigate “all threats, reported to us, to the health or safety of any New Mexican, including elected officials and Cabinet secretaries.”
McCamley said threats against public officials in Arizona and Michigan weighed in his decisions to resign, along with the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol.
Read the full text of McCamley’s Tweets below
Until April, I was the NM Secretary of the Dept of Workforce Solutions (the agency in charge of Unemployment). I tried to leave quietly, but as my name has been used since for various reasons I felt it was important to be public about the reason for my departure. *thread*
I left the position for no other reason than the safety of myself and my family.
Starting with the Pandemic, threats made to the Department by phone were pretty common. People would show up at the office and try to start fights with security guards. (2)
Windows were broken. The most tangible evidence of violence occurred with an actual terrorist incident: a fire bomb was used to destroy a state car in our Las Cruces office. A picture is included, and as you can see the explosion was so hot that it melted the engine block. (3)
Bearing this in mind, in March I received a call from one of our local offices that a gentleman blamed me for his wife's unemployment issues and was asking "where I lived and when I was at home". He had a history of instability and an intimate knowledge of automatic weapons. (4)
In April, an unemployment claimant sent a letter to my home. It wasn't threatening, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that it was only a matter of time before my home address and other personal information was shared on social media, (5)
getting into the hands of people who do wish violence. After considering the situation for the weekend, I let the Governor's office know the next Monday of my decision to resign. That was only strengthened when 5 days later a letter appeared at my mother's address. (6)
I have received threats before as a public official, but this time seems different. (7)
Multiple officials who hold my former position in other states have had to receive police protection, with one reporting his parent's cell phone number had been shared and that they were receiving harassment at all hours. (8)
Furthermore, with the attempted kidnapping of Michigan Gov Whitmer, the Jan 6th insurrection, and recently with the AZ Secretary of State having to receive 24 hour police protection in the face of threats, it has become painfully obvious that at this time in history certain (9)
people are willing to express their anger in violent ways. For me this reached a point where I firmly believe that if I stayed I would be putting my life and the lives of people I care about in jeopardy. (10)
I am also choosing to leave New Mexico for these reasons, and this is not easy as I have invested my entire adult life in public service to my friends and neighbors here. (11)
I am immensely proud of the work accomplished by the Department in the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and Governor Lujan Grisham and her whole team have been nothing but supportive, classy, and understanding. (12)
I wish all of the Department and Administration nothing but the best of fortunes moving forward and am confident that New Mexicans are in some of the best hands in the country as we recover from the Pandemic. (13)
I also understand the pain, frustration, and anger experienced by so many. And criticism of public officials is and should be a part of public discourse in a democracy. (14)
However, after all of this, I would also implore the media & public to think strongly about their tone as these issues of great importance are discussed. The more we inflame issues the more situations like the ones above become common and acceptable.
And they shouldn't be. (15)