Thursday, December 17, 2015

Legal Action Over SOS Winter's Decision To Keep ABQ City Council Seat? Some Think There Are Grounds, Plus: Dianna Duran's Blue Christmas And A Lobbying Headache 

Sec. of State Winter
Wasn't it just in August that the NM Supreme Court upheld the city of ABQ's right to prohibit its employees from serving in elected positions? Sure was. Well, maybe the Supremes need to be asked about newly appointed GOP Secretary of State Brad Winter who is going to continue to serve as an ABQ city councilor even as he takes on the full-time $85,000 a year SOS post. One of our Legal Beagles sends us this from the ABQ City Charter:

Effective January 1, 1993, employees of the city are prohibited from holding an elective office of the State of New Mexico or any of its political subdivisions, except employees of the city on October 3, 1989, who on that date hold elective office of the State of New Mexico or any of its political subdivisions may thereafter hold and be elected to the same elective office while serving as a city employee.

Maybe they can argue that as an appointee to fill the Secretary of State vacancy left by the resignation of Dianna Duran, Winter does not hold "elective office?" Can they argue he isn't a city employee when he gets a $30,000 annual city paycheck for his council service?

So far we are getting blanket statements in the media that the attorneys say there is no problem with Winter holding the two elective positions, but reader Carmie Toulouse sends this except form the Constitution that raises questions:

Joe, I would guess that Winter has not read the Constitution of the State of New Mexico thoroughly. Article V, section 1 defines the Executive Branch of State Government as "governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, attorney general and commissioner of public lands" and then states, "The officers of the executive department, except the lieutenant governor, shall during their terms of office, reside and keep the public records, books, papers and seals of the office at the seat of government."

It seems to me, while this section is ignored by some, it would behoove Winter to not publicly flout it so blatantly. His job should be to restore integrity to his new office rather than violate a condition of the State Constitution, especially to increase his income.

The Santa Fe residency requirement has been loosely interpreted over the years.

And then there are the Alligators, always looking for the humorous in any situation. One of them comes with this rib tickler:

I assume at this point that Brad Winter is the leading candidate to replace Jamie Koch on the UNM Board of Regents, right? I mean, why not? He's already a triple-dipper, (SOS salary, ABQ City Council Salary and a big education retirement pension). Why not just make it an even four and get the quadruple-dip going?

Aah, the quadruple dip. If Brad could do that it would be a bigger feat than that pole vaulting record he set back in the day when he attended ABQ's Highland High. . .


Meanwhile, the debate was hot on social media Wednesday as ex-SOS Duran threw in the towel and agreed not to challenge her plea bargain deal with the attorney general, meaning she will report to jail Friday to begin her 30 day sentence for campaign finance corruption convictions. Here's Michael Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston:

“With the same resolve with which Ms. Duran swiftly accepted responsibility, she will accept the sentence of the court,” said her attorney??? The only thing swift here was her downfall after her perfidy became clearer, and the resolve by Judge Ellington in punishing her for her transgressions, lies, and crimes. Oh yes, and she was always swift about her restricting voting rights during her pathetic term as S of S. Even as she whined and cried her way through the hearings, she refused to acknowledge her felonious behavior and crimes. 

Tim Sienicki came with the rebuttal:

The general public is saying, "how can I steal hundreds of thousands and get away with 30 days in jail..." I fail to see how this is a lesson for other corrupt politicians in this state, of whom we suspect many. I'm sure as a law prof you will have a good reason, but the proof is that the general public does real prison time if they are not connected to the governor and other politicos.


Viki Harrison
They complain of how they have to tighten their belts in this new austere era but the public sector always seeems to have plenaty of cash on hand for our friends in the lobbying corp:

New Mexico cities, counties, colleges and other public entities spent nearly $7.2 million in 2014 and 2015 to lobby the state and federal government. Two-thirds, or more than $4.8 million, went toward lobbying officials here in New Mexico compared to $2.35 million spent to lobby in Washington. . . 

That “makes my head hurt,” Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, said when told the amount. “We’re paying for this with taxpayer money? If this was private money people were using, that would be one thing. But this is my taxes."

Sorry to hear about your head hurting, Viki. The only advice we have for a cure is to do what most New Mexicans do when it comes to Santa Fe--bury your head in the sand.

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