It has been 17 days since Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) checked into a hospital after suffering a stroke, and 12 days since a statement on his condition was issued.
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) tweeted that he “had a great call with @SenatorLujan earlier this week.”
“I’m looking forward to having him back on the Senate floor and sharing some Frito pie in my office (that’s physical therapy, right?).”
Heinrich’s attempt to keep the tone light around a very serious subject nonetheless spurs questions about a topic no media have as yet reported:
Is Lujan undergoing physical therapy? And if so, for what specifically? Speech? Mobility? Cognitive?
The lack of information was concerning from the beginning. It took five days before constituents were made aware of Lujan’s hospitalization and “decompressive surgery” following a stroke in his cerebellum.
According to The Hill, Sen. Heinrich “bristled” when asked if Lujan was walking and talking, stating, “You know, like, you guys are unbelievable. You really are. Like, I would suggest you talk to his staff.”
Unfortunately, Lujan’s staff remains tight-lipped, casting doubt on the initial claim that the stroke was “mild.”
As New Mexico politico Joe Monahan pointed out, “Since his illness Lujan, 49, one of the state’s most gregarious politicians, has not issued a single public statement, made a social media post, released a photograph, recorded an audio or video or reported a visitor.”
Nor has there been an update on whether Lujan has been released from the hospital, let alone a status on post-stroke rehabilitation.
“All of that is enough for the public to doubt that the stroke was ‘mild’ as described by Senator Martin Heinrich. Given his love of public life and dedication to public service, if Lujan were able to personally communicate in any way it is assumed he would.”—The Home of New Mexico Politics
The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government issued a statement Wednesday calling for a balance between Lujan’s privacy and “the public’s right to know,” suggesting “daily briefings and updates from a spokesperson, as well as daily briefings from his treating physician” in order to “protect the Senator’s privacy, but also ensure New Mexicans have the information they need as constituents.”
“While all of us respect the family’s wishes for privacy during this stressful time, a balance must be struck between that privacy and the public’s right to know. As every elected official can tell you, when you voluntarily step into the public sphere, you waive many of those privacy rights.
“Sen. Lujan’s absence from the Senate is an issue of great public importance, particularly with a U.S. Supreme Court appointment on the horizon.
“New Mexicans are left confused and concerned about the lack of information from the Senator’s office. The Senator’s health, his absence from the Senate, and his future service are issues of public importance. The veil of privacy must be lifted so that New Mexicans know the state of Sen. Lujan’s health and their representation within the Senate.”–The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government
As yet, there have been no updates.
Categories: Senator Ben Ray Lujan