Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Who's In Charge In Santa Fe: Lobbyists Or Lawmakers? Bullington Affair Raises Questions, Plus: Even More On The Legend Of Lobbyist Pancho Padilla 

Inside The Capital
The saga of business lobbyist J.D. Bullington has raised a question worth pondering: Since when do lobbyists get to involve themselves directly in the legislative process and why are taxpayer paid staffers letting them do it? It's the flip side of the J.D. Bullington affair in which the lobbyist for the NM Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI) told Senate Finance Committee Chief of Staff Michael Burkhart to pull a bill from the committee's March 12 agenda because the bill's sponsor, ABQ Dem State Rep. Dan Silva, did not want it to be heard. At the end of the hearing, Silva said Bullington misspoke and things went ballistic. Bullington was out of bounds, but so was the finance committee. Why would they treat a lobbyist like a lawmaker? In his letter to ACI honcho John Carey rebuking Bullington, Burkhart said "he had no reason to doubt" J.D., but J.D. is paid with private money, not taxpayers, so while there may be no reason to "doubt" him, there is a reason to ignore him and let the people elected call the shots.

Meanwhile, Bullington emailed to say he was not "banned" from the Senate Finance Committee. Judging by letter to ACI he was correct on that score. Burkhart says he will "not work with" Bullington in the future or "allow him access to staff." It appears the lobbyist can go to the committee meetings. But after this, why would he want to?


For oldtimers, the Bullington affair brought to mind liquor lobbyist Pancho Padilla who back in the 60's exclaimed" "I own the Legislature" and was promptly banned. My recounting of that infamous incident brought quite a few e-mails detailing just what Pancho has been up to in the intervening years. Here's another update: "During Eluid Martinez' tenure as State Engineer, 1990-94, he hired Pancho under a part-time contract as a liaison with the acequias and community groups. Pancho was also helpful with arranging legislative meetings between Eluid and Pancho's proteges Ray Sanchez and Manny Aragon. He gave Eluid more stature with the legislature and advice on strategies in getting bills through the session," wrote a supportive Pancho Alligator.

Certainly, Pancho Padilla has earned himself a prominent place the never-ending book of La Politica. Can anyone out there tell us if Pancho was banned from the legislature by a formal vote, or just an understanding? Did he really "own the Legislature"? Aaah, that's a tale we'd all like to hear.


Reaction to our report yesterday regarding a possible primary challenge to Light Guv Denish by AG Madrid. One of our pros mentioned that Patsy had defeated Diane in a long ago race, but veteran political consultant John Daniel points out that is incorrect. In fact, he outlined the history between the two ladies; especially timely in light of recent developments.

1994 was Denish's first ever run for office. That year former District Judge Patsy edged Diane in a four-way primary--36% to 32%. Also prior to that '94 Lt. Gov. bid, Patsy had run a very strong primary race for Congress in ABQ (1988) when she was edged by Tom Udall by a couple of points. In the 1998 primary, Denish defeated two-term incumbent Secretary of State Stephanie Gonzales in a close race -- 51% to 49%. Bottom line: They're both mighty tough campaigners.

Thanks John. Diane and Patsy have been two of my favorites to watch over the years as well. Both have proven themselves to be top-level political pros.


A final note on all the Light Guv talk. Some supporters of Madrid wire in that they don't want her to seek the Lt. Guv spot because no #2 in NM has ever gone on to be elected governor. (Tom Bolack assumed the governorship) Does that mean Denish is doomed? Not really. Remember the hex about former vice-presidents becoming presidents? George Bush Sr. broke that 156 year old curse in 88', so why not the Light Guv one? And so it goes.......

Corrections, complaints, compliments and other communication is always welcome here. Email me from the link provided at the top right of this page.

Not for reproduction without permission of the author
website design by limwebdesign