Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Politicos Exchange Xmas Cheer, Plus: Di On Offense On Campaign Disclosure; Will R's Catch Up? And: Would Ethics Commission Become A Kangaroo Court? 

Cargo & Denish
We didn't quite get the cell phone camera to focus how we wanted, but we can't pass up bringing you this photo of former NM Republican Governor Dave Cargo and Lt. Governor Diane Denish who hopes to hold the position Dave had from '67 thru '70.

We caught up with the pair at a Christmas party at the ABQ home of Clara Apodaca, NM first lady from '75 to '79, and it reminded us that bipartisanship is not a ship that all have abandoned--or at least that's the hope this holiday season.

Denish, 60, and Cargo, still going strong at 80, are both tough political actors of their respective times but both have shown a willingness to work with a diverse cast of political characters. New Mexico is like that. We are so diverse that gubernatorial success is usually a bridge over the middle. Cargo is urging his fellow R's seeking to beat Denish to get on that bridge in 2010 or get buried. Denish will seek not to loose her footing in the middle as both left and right start pushing her harder in the year ahead.


Denish said Tuesday she will follow her past policy and not solicit campaign funds during the legislative session that kicks off next month, even though the law allows a lieutenant governor to do so. The law prohibits legislators and the Governor from fund-raising beginning January 1st, continuing through the session and another 20 days after that for the Guv. It makes sense for Di to refrain because she is involved in lawmaking as the presiding officer of the state Senate and is called upon to vote in the event of a tie. The law allowing a light guv to go on fund-raising during the session seems too light.

She also said she will continue to voluntarily release a campaign finance report every three months, even though that's not required. We previously pointed out that her voluntary October report lumped her paid campaign staff under a payroll company, so the names and salaries of the staff were not readily available to the voters. But that info is now released on that report, although a clerical error has the staff listed as being from 2005. Her next report will come in January and her campaign says it will have full disclosure of all donations and expenditures, including staff. The next required state report isn't due until mid-March.

Denish could be scoring political points for releasing financial reports more often than required. The R candidates, all vociferously attacking Denish on ethics, seem behind the curve. Where, the Denish crowd crows, are the voluntary finance reports from Allen Weh, Susana Martinez, Doug Turner and Janice Arnold-Jones? Where indeed?


ABQ State Rep. and GOP Guv candidate Janice Arnold-Jones is prohibited by law from raising any campaign money starting January 1 and not ending until the Legislature adjourns, but that isn't stopping some of the snipers in another campaign from taking a shot at her. They say if Janice was really serious about becoming Guv, she would resign her legislative seat and campaign full-time for Guv, including raising money. That way, sniped the sniper, there would be no question that she is fully committed to the campaign and not planning to fall back on a run for her state House seat should her Guv effort falter.

A friend of Janice's reminds the holiday politics watchers that she's the only GOP Guv candidate with legislative experience and huffs that the candidate will give up her House seat when she's elected Governor.


We've revealed a total of 19 of the 59 political appointees who are being let go by the Guv to help balance the state budget. We've done it with our Alligators who have a stellar record, but one got by them and us. Rick Silva of the property tax division of the NM Taxation and Revenue Department was apparently targeted for a pink slip, as our Gators reported in our first blog draft Tuesday, but he has since been given a reprieve. He is still on the job which we personally confirmed. Also, former ABQ State Rep. Delano Garcia was working with the NM National Guard as a legislative liaison, not the Dept. of Veterans' Affairs as we first blogged.

There's going to be a mistake or two along the line when you try to bust the government for a lack of transparency in how they spend your money, especially when it refuses to release the names of those in question. Traditional journalistic tools may or may not get the info for us when reams of records are released later. That's where our senior sources come in. We're still trying to compile names so email us with any fresh info.

Other questions about the Richardson 59 for the watchdogs to watch for: How many of those being let go are double-dippers, already drawing a retirement check plus their full-time government salary? And will any of The Richardson 59 be rehired in other government positions? Stay with us...


We just got done blogging above about the need for full disclosure from the Guv candidates, but that doesn't mean we are going to buy hook, line and sinker anything with "ethics" stamped on it. Some things are just a bad buy this holiday season. Like this....

The more we hear about the proposed state ethics commission, the more we fear it will end up resembling a Kangaroo court. New Mexico politics is crazy enough without unleashing the politicians to look at each other's dirty laundry, but that's what this commission--or carnival--would appear to do if given life in the January legislative session. Look at the proposed membership as described by assistant attorney general Stuart Bluestone:

It provides for 11 members, with two appointed by the House Democratic Caucus, two by the House Republican Caucus, two by the Senate Democratic Caucus, two by the Senate Republican Caucus, and the governor appoints three members--a Democrat, a Republican and someone who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. The 11 members can only act if there is a quorum of eight, and at least eight of the 11 members must agree on every action the commission takes.

This thing is looking as unwieldy as Tiger Woods' date book. Hey, Stu. Why not throw in eight maids a milking and a couple of partridges in a pear tree?

Call us naive, but we happen to think Attorney General Gary King, State Auditor Hector Balderas, US Attorney Fouratt (and his successor) are more than capable of performing their ethical watchdog roles if given proper funding and if pushed hard to do so by the press and public. (Haven't the feds in recent years put behind bars two state treasurers and the former leader of the state Senate? Isn't a former secretary of state under indictment?)

But this is New Mexico where we like to complicate the uncomplicated. And don't forget those nice, juicy staff jobs for the ethics commission. That matter could be the first case before the new panel--the hiring of cronies to administer the new ethics commission!


Tucumcari reader Catherine Bugg wanted to use our blog to send a message to the state engineer who presides over all things water. But it wasn't a Christmas card Catherine wanted to convey:

Dear Mr. Monahan, I am writing you as a landowner in the Arch Hurley Conservancy District. For the past three years we have not had our allotment of water from Conchas Lake. This has created a great hardship on farmers, ranchers, business owners and economic development in general in Quay County, Eastern New Mexico. To the tune of $40 million per year to the economy.

We have worked with our board of directors and discovered some illegal diversions upstream on the Canadian River. We, landowners, board members and the Executive Director Franklin McCasland have made attempts to contact the State Engineer's office, our local state representative, the governor and anyone else we can think of to no avail.

One of our questions is if there is a 250% snow pack and yet there is no run-off into Conchas, what is the problem? We would like some help with publicity in this matter, to get our message across the state.

You've got our help, Catherine. John D'Antonio is the state engineer. Tis' the season, John, so why not give Catherine a ring?

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