Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gatorgate's First Victim: State Police Chief Resigns As Questions Swirl, Plus: More On The Silence Of Dem Party Chair On Martinez Controversies, And: Jeff Bingaman's Paper Trail 

Chief Shilling
Gatorgate has claimed it's first victim.

Sure, State  Police Chief Robert Shilling says his "retirement" is a personal decision but it comes as questions continue to swirl over the controversial 2011 Louisiana alligator hunting trip taken by Chuck Franco--the Governor's husband--who was accompanied by two state policemen who provided "security."

Shilling's credibility had been pretty much shot over the Franco trip fiasco. Last Monday we noted his problems, asking why Shilling and the administration have given three different explanations on how Franco ended up in the unusual situation of having two state policemen accompany him on a vacation at taxpayers expense:

a) Chuck Franco wanted to go hunting so the state police chief assigned two officers to accompany him.

b) The two officers were going on a vacation and Chuck Franco asked if he could go with them.

c) And the current version--That the two officers were going on vacation and they invited Chuck Franco along, allowing them to not only have a taxpayer funded excursion, but to draw significant overtime pay which most people don't receive while on vacation.

Shilling, only 42, has battled serious health problems and cited those among the reasons for his departure after two and a half years in the top post. He claimed the Louisiana trip did not play a part.

Shilling now leaves the stage, leaving others to grapple with Gatorgate and the big questions still on the table:

--Did Franco have any direct or indirect contact with two of the owners of the ABQ Downs Racetrack who live in Louisiana and who at the time of the Franco trip were in the process of being awarded a lucrative 25 year racino lease?

--Did the Downs owners have a hand--directly or indirectly--in any aspect of Franco's Louisiana adventure?

--What is the FBI finding out as it investigates the awarding of that racino lease?

--What, if anything, is Attorney General King coming up with?

--Will the Martinez administration finally end its battle with the media and release all records relating to the Louisiana trip? And will they release all emails dealing with the awarding of the Downs lease?

--Finally, who will be the next administration insider to feel the heat and either start talking or start walking as this political melodrama continues to unfold in the months ahead?


As we noted in the Monday blog, we are hearing from Dems who are upset that their party's new chairman--Sam Bregman is playing "Silent Night" when it comes to Gatorgate and the Downs deal. Reaction to that Monday blog includes this missive from reaer Mike in Corrales:

Chairman Bregman is flat wrong on his contention that there's little political hay to make of the Martinez administration's ABQ Downs racino controversy. He's certainly correct in identifying the state's depressed economic situation as a real vulnerability for Governor Martinez; however, he has to understand that in order to defeat a popular incumbent, he and his party must exploit every vulnerability.

...If Chairman Bregman is somehow compromised by attorney-client issues as Deming attorney Tony White raised on the Monday blog--or his association with Jason Lorea (a Dem consultant facing child pron charges after his computer was searched as part of emailgate--the hijacking of the Governor's campaign email account), or some other reason, to an extent that he can't be an effective Chairman,, he'll need to step down. Democrats need to understand--this is a winnable election. And here's why...

How can the Democratic nominee defeat Governor Martinez in 2014? Simple. The strategy--give reason to all of the Hispanic Democrats and most of the Hispanic Independents who previously voted for Governor Martinez to vote Democrat in 2014, and of course, keep all the voters who supported Diane Denish. I say the strategy is simple, not easy. The execution is very complex, and again, will need to exploit every vulnerability of the Martinez administration. However, for the "right" Democratic candidate, this race is eminently winnable.


Bingaman and Harris
All things Jeff Bingaman now reside at Zimmerman Library on the UNM campus in ABQ

Here's the former five term NM US Senator pictured at the donation ceremomy with Fred Harris, a Dem party stalwart and himself a former US Senator from Oklahoma:

Bingaman said he chose to donate the papers to Zimmerman because he trusts UNM’s archiving processes. 

I think there’s a history here at Zimmerman of archiving and maintaining this type of political record,” he said. “I’m very appreciative that the University of New Mexico is willing to do this. For my perspective, the papers would be well taken care of and would be made available to anybody.”

Bingaman retired in 2012. He donated 1,100 boxes of papers to UNM. The paper's of his longtime colleague--Republican Senator Pete Domenici--who holds the NM record for years served in the Senate--are housed at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2013. Not for reproduction without permission of the author
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