- Worked as an ADA and Assistant Attorney General in New Mexico during 2005-09
- Was appointed Special Assistant U.S. Attorney by President Obama
- Was elected District Attorney of Bernalillo County, New Mexico in 2016
- His DA campaign was supported and funded by George Soros
- Ran for New Mexico Attorney General in 2021-22
Raul Torrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He earned a B.A. degree in Government from Harvard University in 1999, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2005. Torrez also obtained an M.S. degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2001.
Torrez’s professional career has consisted of a variety of legal, political, and activist pursuits. From 1999-2000, he was employed as a Government Relations Analyst at govWorks, which produced software to help government clients track contracts and purchasing functions. And from 2001-2002, he served as Development Coordinator for the Cesar Chavez Foundation — an organization dedicated to upholding the legacy of the late socialist labor leader for whom it is named.
After graduating from law school in 2005, Torrez became an Assistant District Attorney for the 13th District of New Mexico. From 2006-2009, he worked as an Assistant Attorney General in the New Mexico AG’s Office. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Torrez to become a White House Fellow as well as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. Torrez was promoted to the post of Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2011 and remained in that role until 2013. And from 2013-2017, he worked in private practice as a managing partner for his own Torrez Law & Strategy, LLC in Albuquerque.
In 2016, Torrez won the Democratic Party primary for District Attorney of Bernalillo County, the largest county in New Mexico. Running as a “progressive” prosecutor committed to implementing various criminal-justice reforms, he defeated former Albuquerque police officer Ed Perea to win the party’s nomination. “From the beginning of our campaign, we have set out to build a modern, thoughtful criminal-justice system in this community that not only keeps our families safe, but also makes us proud,” said Torrez.
Republican Simon Kubiak dropped out of the race for Bernalillo County DA in June 2016, clearing the way for Torrez to run unopposed in the November general election. Kubiak explained that his decision to quit was due to the overwhelming amount of funding that Torrez’s campaign was receiving from the leftist megadonor, George Soros, who provided Torrez with $107,000. That contribution came via Soros’ New Mexico Safety & Justice PAC, the New Mexico chapter of the extensive Justice & Safety PAC (JSPAC) network that Soros had created to help elect and fund radical District Attorney candidates across the United States. “New Mexicans cannot afford to challenge anyone who has unlimited resources and support from a multibillionaire from another country,” said Kubiak.
In May 2019, Torrez laid out the basics of a proposed constitutional amendment intended to broaden the criteria that law-enforcement authorities could cite as justification for detaining defendants charged with specific crimes and holding them until trial. As the Albuquerque Journal noted, Torrez’s proposal “would create a rebuttable presumption of detention for specific crimes and allow detainment for dangerousness, flight risk or obstruction of the criminal justice process.” This would apply most significantly to defendants charged with violent felonies (particularly those committed while on probation or parole), intimidation of witnesses, or illegal firearms possession. Michael Patrick, a spokesman for the Bernalillo County DA’s Office, said that Torrez’s proposed constitutional amendment was designed to do away with the “catch-and-release system that routinely puts armed and dangerous criminals back on our streets.” This perspective on crime-fighting distinguished Torrez from the vast majority of Soros-funded District Attorneys, who typically aim to help criminal defendants avoid detention whenever possible.
On the other hand, Torrez has emphasized the need to find alternatives to incarceration for crimes he classifies as low-level offenses, particularly if they are drug-related. “We aren’t going to incarcerate our way into a safer future,” he argues, “and we, as prosecutors, have to be willing to take [a] critical look at how we impact the system and society as a whole.”
Prior to Torrez’s election as DA, the city of Albuquerque, which serves as Bernalillo’s county seat, had averaged roughly 45 homicides per year since the late 1980s – with a low of just 30 as recently as 2014. But after Torrez was sworn in as DA in January 2017, murders in Albuquerque rose significantly. Indeed, the city experienced a record 80 homicides in 2019, followed by 76 in 2020 and an unprecedented 117 in 2021. Nor was homicide the only category of violent crime whose incidence increased on Torrez’s watch. As U.S. News & World Report noted in January 2022: “In the first three quarters of 2021, Albuquerque had 111 violent crimes per 10,000 people, according to FBI data. That put Albuquerque in the top 10 most violent cities with populations over 100,000 people.”
In January 2022, Legislative Finance Committee analysts released a report concluding that a pattern of low arrest, prosecution and conviction rates was contributing heavily to the growing crime problem in Bernalillo County under Torrez. Among other things, the report stated that the conviction rate for violent felonies had declined to an unusually low 59% as of 2020, and that some 40% of all remaining felony cases were being dismissed. Torrez denied the report’s allegations, claiming that they were “based on misinformation that is the product of incomplete data, flawed analysis and a troubling failure to ask obvious questions about fundamental changes to court procedure.”
In July 2020, President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr announced their intent to deploy 35 federal agents to Albuquerque as part of Operation Legend, a plan that was devised as a mechanism by which the federal government could assist cities in combating the rapid rise in violent crime that had become widespread since the infamous May 2020 death of George Floyd. After Trump suggested that local authorities in Albuquerque were either “too political” or “too proud” to ask for federal help in fighting the emerging crime wave, Torrez: (a) condemned the Trump Administration’s recent deployment of federal personnel in an effort to quell the ongoing riots in Portland, Oregon, and (b) vowed to steadfastly resist any similar move to dispatch such personnel to Albuquerque. Said Torrez in a statement:
“There is no excuse – and no legal authority – for the abusive misconduct we are witnessing on the streets of Portland. When masked federal agents grab fellow citizens off the street and detain them without probable cause, they are violating their oath to uphold the constitution and bringing dishonor to all those in federal service who place their lives on the line so that we can live in a free society…. [I]n light of the President’s alarming and somewhat confused statements about the purpose behind deploying additional federal agents to communities like ours, I have asked the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico to certify in writing that any additional agents limit their enforcement activities to their traditional role of investigating organized crime, high-level drug trafficking and gun violence. I have also made it clear that should any federal officer exceed their statutory authority and engage in activities that are constitutionally reserved for local law enforcement, that I am prepared to go to court to challenge such activity.”
In 2020, Torrez ran unopposed for re-election as Bernalillo County DA and easily won a second term.
In May 2021, Torrez announced his candidacy for the 2022 race for New Mexico Attorney General, pledging to “protect consumers by taking on predatory corporations and those who target seniors and vulnerable residents, hold polluters accountable for harming our environment, and stand up for democracy by investigating and prosecuting political corruption and police misconduct when necessary.” Torrez’s campaign website touted his various progressive credentials as follows:
“Raul has taken on right-wing militias, stood up for common sense gun safety laws, tackled the rape kit backlog and prosecuted violent crime, child abuse, and fraud. He is also recognized as a national leader for reform, being one of the first prosecutors in America to make information about police misconduct available to the public, and piloting a program to provide full transparency about the demographic outcomes in our criminal justice system.”
In November 2021, Torrez filed a petition to enforce a subpoena against Facebook after the company failed to provide his DA’s office with information pertaining to personal Facebook accounts associated with the New Mexico Civil Guard (NMCG) — a local organization whose members had sought to quell some of the violent George Floyd-related riots in the summer of 2020. Torrez was seeking this information in connection with a lawsuit he had initiated against NMCG, which his office described as “an extremist militia group” guilty of “acting as an unlawful police and paramilitary force” that “sport[ed] assault rifles and other military-style gear with the professed purpose of ‘protecting’ individuals and property.” At issue was the fact that NMCG had utilized Facebook to recruit new members and coordinate its activities.