Tuesday, October 18, 2005
AG Hopeful Bob Schwartz: First The Dogs Bite, Now The Alligators Snap, Plus: The Vigil Saga: The Readers Speak As Our Exclusive Analysis Continues
First, Big Bill crime advisor Bob Schwartz went to the dogs in a bizarre weekend incident in which he reportedly was bitten by his own pets and had to be rushed to the hospital. Next, the news blackout over the weird incident got the Alligators speculating. Now they are snapping over Schwartz's aspirations to be the 06' nominee of the GOP for the prestigious office of Attorney General. And they are saying it will be no walk in the dog park for the sometimes liberal sometimes conservative Schwartz.
"Jim Bibb, an assistant NM U.S. attorney under David Iglesias is about to join the race for the R's. He will have appeal to regular R's who see Bob as a "Republicrat" who is tied to the Governor," informed one of our Gators.
And just when you thought it could not get any more weird in our Enchanted Land, our source adds: "Like Schwartz, there is also a Democrat twist with Bibb. His wife is the daughter of former Democratic Governor Toney Anaya. That makes him Toney's son-in-law!"
Is it weird enough for you yet?
OVER TO THE D'S
Now over to the Democrats and their many possibles lining up to replace outgoing Dem AG Patricia Madrid who will seek to unseat ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. Carlos Fierro, a 33 year old Santa Fe native, now working for a big league law firm in D.C., checks in with the news that he is eyeing the race. "I am looking at it very seriously. I don't see any frontrunner," said Fierro who some say is owed a favor by Ben Juan Jr. for getting out of the 04' race for a Public Regulation Commission (PRC) seat that Ben Ray eventually won.
And get this. Fierro also has deep ties with the party he hopes to beat. He worked as a key legislative staffer to GOP U.S. Senator John McCain. Can I say it again? Viva La Politica!
VIGIL E-MAIL AVALANCHE
Our Monday blog quoting our impeachment insiders drew a bunch of e-mail, many of it questioning the contention that there would be a vacancy created if Vigil is impeached by the House Oct. 28.
Unlike the federal constitution, New Mexico's says when an official is impeached he is relieved of his duties until acquitted at a Senate trial. But former ABQ GOP State Rep. Rory Ogle, among many others, insist Big Bill would not get to appoint a Vigil replacement upon impeachment because it still would not constitute a vacancy.
"Joe, I have to disagree with your and the analysis of others. If the House impeaches an elected official then that individual is precluded from carrying out their duties. However, impeachment by the House does not remove that individual from their office. It is not until a trial has been conducted by the Senate and where two thirds of the Senate votes guilty on the impeachment articles that an individual is removed. If the Senate fails to vote guilty by two thirds then the accused is acquitted."
Well said Rory. If Vigil is impeached there is no one designated to carry out his duties. The issue could go to the NM Supreme Court and they could find that impeachment equals a vacancy and give the Guv the power to appoint. The Guv, without court authority, could appoint and make the Ogle's of the world challenge him in court, or the Treasurer's office could technically go rudderless until January when the Legislature meets and would be expected to pass a law cleaning up this chain of command mess. Such a measure, no matter the Vigil case, is obviously long overdue.
BE CAREFUL, MR. IGLESIAS
U.S. Attorney Iglesias
Longtime political watcher David Oakley also e-mails about the Vigil case, reflecting the concerns of several others.
"Anytime any politician gets charged, indicted, etc., I take it with a huge grain of salt. Usually the prosecutor is a political animal, either elected or appointed. Sometimes they are looking to further their political career, or have a political agenda. Also, the prosecutor has almost unlimited resources, while the accused must spend their life savings and more to combat the charges," commented David.
He has a point. The full weight of the U.S. government is nothing to sneeze at and Vigil certainly deserves his day in court and is presumed innocent
But here's the point that many in New Mexico seem to be missing. Impeachment is not that day in court. It is a political process. The impeachment of Vigil will lead to no criminal penalties, but simply the loss of his job either temporarily or permenantely. That is a political penalty, not a criminal one, so let's not get the two mixed up. Also, the Legislature does not need criminal evidence to impeach. And even if it has it, it can only punish politically, never criminally.
EVEN MORE VIGIL
And finally, another impeachment e-mail that raises an intriguing question: "If impeachment goes forward and testimony from witnesses implicates other elected officials can the U.S. Attorney use the witnesses statements to further the government's case? Will this impeachment process cause a good chain reaction? These questions will hopefully keep many elected officials sleepless," ribs another astute follower of state politics.
Well, now that Treasurer Vigil has decided not to cooperate or testify in any way before the House subcommittee formed to study his impeachment, those questions may be moot. That means those "sleepless" officials don't have to hit the Sominex, at least not until the Vigil criminal trial or a plea bargain that peels this onion even more.
Keep the insightful e-mail and news tips coming and, as always, thanks for tuning in.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
Not for reproduction without permission of the author