Monday, June 08, 2009

Scandal Watch: Why Coming Fridays Are Feared By Some, Plus: A New Angle On Light Guv Race, And: Keeping Up With Arnold-Jones 

Friday may be the day of the week most everyone looks forward to, but in the coming weeks it may be looked upon as a day of dread for those mired in the CDR pay-to-play allegations. That's because the Legal Beagles say federal indictments are usually announced on Friday. And with the CDR bond investigation--one of several probes being conducted by the US Attorney here--apparently concluded and awaiting review from US Attorney General Eric Holder--if there are going to be any indictments, insiders expect them in the weeks ahead.

One of the strange aspects of American jurisprudence is that word widely circulates about a federal grand jury investigation, but what they are up to is not officially confirmed. For example, when Attorney General Holder stopped in ABQ for a conference Friday, he even refused to acknowledge the existence of the CDR investigation, even as the press is filled with reports of federal subpoenas from the grand jury. And if there is no action taken by a grand jury in a case, there is no official announcement that it is over (By the way, Big Bill did not make that public event with Holder, depriving the press of what would have been a somewhat sensational picture at this stage of the Fed's investigation into Bill's administration).

Not all federal indictments are unsealed on Fridays. Former State Senator Manny Aragon's corruption indictment was released publicly on a Thursday, but Friday is by far the go-to date because of the way the federal schedule operates. So while breaking away from work early for a trip to the lake or camp site, the politicos may want to pack their Blackberrys or portable radios. One of these slow summer TGIF's could deliver a news wallop. Or not.


The CDR probe is just one of multiple roads US Attorney Greg Fouratt is traveling. There's also investigations into the use of "placement agents" for investments by the State Investment Council and the Educational Retirement Board. Bruce Malott, a well-known known New Mexico accountant, who chairs the ERB, has decided to try to get ahead of the curve and is now saying that federal subpoenas issued to the ERB ought to be released to the press. He's right, of course. It is our money at stake. The statement comes after board attorneys nixed the notion of releasing the subpoenas. Malott, in announcing his position, called "sunlight is the best disinfectant." With a scandal du jour around here, it seems the sunlight was blacked out for a number of years.


It is nigh near impossible for Mr. and Mrs. New Mexico to keep up on the scandal watch in their Land of Enchantment. Maybe the newspapers ought to put out special editions with a big scandal chart inserted so we could tack it on our refrigerators.


A strange thing is happening on the way to nominating a northern Democratic Hispanic for the 2010 lieutenant governor nomination. Circumstances are making more plausible a serious run by a southern Anglo conservative. State Senators Linda Lopez, Jerry Ortiz y Pino have formed committees for the race; state Senator Pete Campos is looking at it as is politico Lawrence Rael and NM Dem Party Chairman Brian Colon. Santa Fe Sheriff Greg Solano has been campaigning for some time. They all hail north of Interstate-40 and anyone of them would bring the always sought ethnic balance to a ticket led by current Lt. Governor Diane Denish, but with not one candidate south of I-40 politics watchers are starting to wonder if it an opportunity could be created for a southern contender.

How about a guy like Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones giving it a look. He's up for re-election to the PRC in 2010, but can't be overjoyed being on that contentious panel. It wouldn't be easy for either Jones or another southern Dem politico to take a big risk. They would also be ignoring the hope of many Dems for an ethnically balanced ticket, but sometimes opportunity only knocks once.


A decision to form an exploratory committee to begin a possible run for the 2010 GOP Guv nomination may be more complicated for ABQ GOP State Rep. Janice Arnold- Jones than it looks on the surface. Consider this. If she were to announce such a committee, would the faction of the GOP that has battled her in the past--represented by GOP National Committeeman Pat Rogers, lawyer/lobbyist Mickey Barnett and former GOP chairman and current Guv candidate Allen Weh--get busy and find a Republican candidate to announce for Janice's state House seat? (Weh and Greg Zanetti are the two R's so far who have formed Guv committees.)

It's a danger for her. Arnold-Jones may want to test the waters for Guv and later withdraw and safely retreat to her House seat, but once she forms the committee, she will have to admit that she has not decided whether she will seek re-election for another term in her ABQ NE Heights district. That would leave an opening for another Republican--and that takes you back to the faction that would like nothing more than to see Arnold-Jones disappear. If she forms the committee and decided not to run, she could then face a potentially formidable conservative primary opponent.

And the problems don't end there. Janice's district is now 52 percent Democratic--a majority. The D's may start eyeing the seat. Much of her district is in that of Dem State Senator Tim Eichenberg. In 2008, Tim managed to oust GOP State Senator Diane Snyder. And in the legislative district right next door to Janice's, the Dems took out GOP Rep. Justine Fox-Young with Karen Giannini.

It seems for some possible candidates deciding whether to even think about running for Governor can be as tough as the job itself.

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