“Monkey” protest in New Mexico targets Rep. Heinrich on spending

By | September 14th, 2012

On Thursday, a protest took place at the Senate campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., in northeast Albuquerque. The protesters, accompanied by a person dressed in a full-body monkey costume, took aim at Heinrich’s vote for the failed $825 billion stimulus bill of 2009. Among the projects funded was a $500,000 Santa Fe study on monkey conflict.

Heinrich is running against former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, a Republican, for the Senate seat.

Stuart Dyson of KOB-4 reported on the protest and interviewed the organizer – Marita Noon.

Q: “So - what about the guy in the monkey suit - what’s up with that?”

A: “Well the guy in the monkey suit is to represent two things – first he’s to represent that we’re tired of politicians like Congressman Heinrich who are monkeying around in Washington - but the other thing he’s to represent is specifically some of the foolish money that was spent for the 800 billion dollar stimulus bill that was spent to observe monkeys fighting.”

Noon is correct. In 2009, Heinrich voted for the $825 billion stimulus bill. In a January 27, 2009, joint press statement with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D.-N.M, and then-Congressman Harry Teague, D-N.M., prior to the bill’s passage, Heinrich touted the measure as a good deal for New Mexico:

“This bold recovery and jobs package will create good jobs for the 1st Congressional District and provide much needed tax relief for working families,” said Heinrich.

Recovery.org, the Obama Administration’s website that tracks stimulus spending, indicates that the National Science Foundation awarded the Santa Fe Institute of Science with a grant for $496,067. The stated purpose of the study was to analyze “protracted conflicts” among “non-human primates” (e.g., monkeys) “informed by evolutionary theory.”

The recovery.org disclosure also reveals that only one full-time position was created – “a postdoctoral scholar” to supervise researchers. Within the grant, a $191,569 subcontract was awarded to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. It is unclear as to how much of the grant work was actually performed in New Mexico. Here’s an excerpt of the description from the official grant summary

“This project will introduce new, empirically grounded, models, and perspectives into the analysis of issues surrounding conflict and national security, as well as extend existing evolutionary theory.”

Huh? Net effect:  one job created (in New Mexico or Wisconsin) at a cost to taxpayers of $496,067.

As New Mexico Watchdog has reported, overall, the stimulus in New Mexico created about 3 jobs for every $1 million spent.