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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Who Is Terry Schleder And Why Should We Care? And Why Does The Guv? Plus: Pearce's Pricey Egypt Trip: A Political Desert? 

Schleder (poached from Terrell)
Who is Terry Schleder and why should we care? Okay, thanks for asking...

Schleder is the new executive director of the NM Foundation for Open Government known as FOG. That's the government transparency group that acts on its own behalf and that of news organizations to ensure public access to government records. That's why we care.

And so apparently does the Governor. Utilizing her political operatives on Twitter (the usual suspects) they are assailing and attempting to discredit Schleder by calling him "left wing" a "liberal activist" and a "union organizer." (Oh, no. Not that!)

FOG says Schleder--the first nonjournalist to head the group--is a health advocate and policy consultant. But why should the Governor care who Schleder is? If she's running the open and transparent government she promised us, she needn't concern herself with who heads FOG.

(By the way, wasn't her good friend Pat Rogers, the GOP National Committeeman, until recently a longtime member of the FOG board? Yep.)

But then there is the Downs deal and the media drumbeat for the release of travel records of Chuck Franco, Martinez's husband. He took a controversial 2011 hunting trip to Louisiana accompanied by two state policemen. Louisiana is the home state of two owners of the ABQ Downs. At the time of the Franco trip the administration was in the process of awarding a lucrative 25 year racino lease.

Governor Martinez steadfastly refuses to release to the media the expense and lodging records from what Franco says was a hunting trip. Aaah, maybe that's why the Governor cares so much about Schleder?

Tell you what, Guv. You give up those Franco trip records and we will bring you the head of Terry Schleder. (Sorry, Terry. This is a deal for the greater good).

PEARCE DIGS IN 

Is Steve Pearce digging a deeper hole for himself?

The southern NM GOP congressman says "absolutely not" when asked if he will refund the nearly $20,000 the state department paid for a plane ticket for Pearce's trip to Egypt to visit NM National Guard members.

Pearce is unapologetic about the outlandish expenditure.

The ticket cost skyrocketed when a congressional delegation that Pearce was part of cancelled its scheduled trip to Egypt. But Pearce told the state department he still wanted to go. They put him in business class and ponied up nearly $20,000 for it. The high price resulted because the ticket had to be bought less than 2 weeks from departure.

An online petition from the liberal ProgressNM group is asking that Pearce--who they dub a Tea Party congressman--refund the money.

Pearce says he wanted to visit the guardsmen to tell them--among other things--about high-paying jobs that were available in the oil and gas industry in NM when they finished their tour of duty. That sounds like a stretch, but Pearce, a Vietnam veteran, is insistent that his trip was also good for their morale and he feels it was worth every taxpayer penny.

Pearce is in a safe Republican seat but the folly over the ticket may be doing damage to his statewide image. He is known as one of the harshest congressional critics of government waste. The average person is going to have a hard time buying Pearce's argument that what he had to tell the guardsmen was so important that they had to pay $20,000 to send him there to say it.

One big mistake can change an image quickly. Pearce is risking being painted as self-important and hypocritical, rather than the down-to-earth conservative most see him as. If he doesn't write a refund check, he will have to pound the table hard in next year's election that this is about supporting the troops--not about a personal extravagance that needs to be rescinded.

MULLING IT OVER

State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez first said he would make a decision on whether he will seek the 2014 Dem Guv nomination by the end of June. He now tells newsman Milan Simonich that he will make a decision by Labor Day....Carlsbad attorney Roxanne Lara told me Tuesday she is again considering a run for the congressional seat held by Republican Steve Pearce. She had earlier said she was not going to run but she says friends have urged her to take another look. Lara recently ran for Dem state party chair and was defeated by Sam Bregman.

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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