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Monday, July 01, 2013

Pearce's Folly: $20,000 Egypt Plane Ticket Gets The Gators Gabbing, Plus: A Gay Marriage Vote Seen As Downer For Dems, And: More Media On Franco Trip 

Rep. Pearce
What is one to make of notoriously tight-fisted NM GOP Congressman Steve Pearce forking over nearly $20,000 in taxpayer money to take a junket to Egypt to visit NM National Guard members? It so runs against the grain of what Pearce preaches that reader Jeffrey Baker says Pearce has no choice but to reimburse the government:

The smartest thing Steve Pearce can do is to quickly write a check to the U.S. Treasury for the $19,525 airline ticket he bought with the taxpayer’s checkbook to fly to Cairo, and say, “sorry.” Otherwise, he’s just another politician who talks out of both sides of his mouth.

You nailed, it Jeff. Pearce is seen as having another easy race for re-election to his southern congressional seat, but his only challenger so far--political unknown and Dem Leslie Endean-Singh--has been handed a tasty entree of hypocrisy to kick off her '14 campaign.

The Egypt fiasco strikes at the very identity of Pearce as an authentic conservative voice with whom you may disagree but still respect.

Pearce has been in the front of the parade calling for drastic cuts in government spending. Now this? Steve, what were you thinking? And who was the travel agent that booked this whopper? Hope there are no complications there....

Pearce set off a tempest recently when he proposed that everyone getting unemployment benefits undergo a drug test. If he doesn't reimburse the government for his Egyptian extravagance a number of voters will want to put Pearce to the test. Best write that check, Steve.

EMAILGATE

The push continues for Governor Martinez to disclose travel records for that controversial 2011 Louisiana hunting trip taken by her husband Chuck Franco. On the NM public broadcasting program "In Focus," several journalists questioned the Governor's decision to fight disclosure. She says showing the records would compromise "security."

The panelists pointed out that the Martinez administration is now ducking transparency in the same manner she and the media criticized Dem Governor Bill Richardson for doing.

Franco was accompanied on his trip by two state policemen. The trip is controversial because two owners of the ABQ Downs racino live in Louisiana and the trip was taken at the time the Martinez administration was negotiating a racino lease for the Downs. The administration says the Downs owners did not provide lodging or food for the Franco hunting party, but without the records who provided what can't be verified.

One of the "In Focus" journalists sympathetic to the administration suggested that if the Governor is worried about security being compromised she could release records with the names of the hotels or private homes the party stayed at "blacked out."

No.

We must know where the Franco party stayed in order to determine if it had any direct or indirect bearing on the racino lease. Releasing only the expenses compiled by the state police officers won't do it. In fact, there are no "expense" records for the lodging because the Governor says the party was "privately hosted."

Why would we want "blacked out" records of a two year old trip that did not even involve the direct security of the Governor? The administration can end all of this with complete disclosure. What's the hang up?

GAY MARRIAGE VOTE?

Top Dem strategists are very wary of any effort to place on the 2014 ballot a measure that would ask voters to legalize gay marriage in New Mexico. They note that the issue still divides the state and that in a low turnout election it is likely that conservative voters will have more influence in the outcome.

They also fret that a larger conservative turnout because of a gay marriage amendment could endanger the slim hold the Democrats have on the state House of Representatives.

State Rep. Brian Egolf of Santa Fe, an attorney acting as a private citizen and in the aftermath of favorable US Supreme Court rulings toward gay marriage, has asked the NM Supreme Court to rule that such marriages are legal here. Keeping it in the courts keeps it off the ballot. Expect Dems to keep it that way.

Governor Martinez knows the score. She thinks it's a good idea to send the gay marriage issue to the voters next year--and no doubt it would also be a good idea for her re-election. But it would take a majority of the Dem-controlled Senate and House to place the amendment before voters so you can place that one in the "not gonna happen" category.

HOW LOW DID WE GO?

Pretty darn low when it comes to the collapse in construction jobs in the state since the onset of the recession:

The state’s peak came during the boom of 2006, and in June of that year New Mexico had 59,600 construction jobs. In May of this year, the total was 43,600--down 16,000, or 27 percent. New Mexico did gain 500 construction jobs last month and has been on a steady if modest gain for the year, adding 2,900 construction jobs since January as the housing market slowly continues its recovery in the Albuquerque area and other areas of the state.

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