Friday, February 19, 2016

Hector's Hectic Session And Crazy, Radical Optimists" Won't Give Up On Ethics Commission 

AG Balderas
Attorney General Hector Balderas ended the legislative session battling with his own Democratic Party. Two of his staffers stormed out of a Senate committee that was making changes to a child porn bill that were not to the AG's liking and later two AG staffers were escorted off the Senate floor when a Republican Senator objected to them as expert witnesses over the bill. Then the AG told interviewers he was disappointed that the Democratic-controlled Senate did not approve an independent ethics commission and that a bill to revoke the pensions of public officials convicted of felonies was left to die.

Balderas, a possible '18 Dem Guv candidate, has a very frosty relationship with Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and that was only worsened this session. Not surprisingly, the AG was coming under sniper fire after his office's legislative antics and his comments.

If Balderas is so concerned about ethics, declared a Senate Dem sympathizer, why doesn't he bring charges in the alleged corruption cases that State Auditor Keller forwarded to him dealing with the city of ABQ's purchase of Taser police cameras and possible favoritism in the Taxation and Revenue Department. (The AG  has reportedly brought the Taser deal before a grand jury).

And if he is so concerned about revoking pensions for corrupt public officials, why didn't he get aggressive when he had the chance and move to end the pension of Secretary of State Dianna Duran when she pleaded guilty to corruption charges? (Balderas argued the statute governing the pensions was too vague for him to take action)

Even former Dem Attorney General Patsy Madrid surfaced to criticize the AG staffers for walking out of that committee hearing.“I wouldn’t have done it that way, but I’m not the current AG."

Balderas and attorney Brian Colon, his BFF and a likely candidate for ABQ mayor in 2017, have been know to make overtures to the Republicans as they go about their business. It seems Hector's relationship with the R's may be better right now than the one he has with his own party.


The thought expressed here that groups like Common Cause might look for an alternative to an ethics commission after ten years of legislative failure brought this from Heather Ferguson of NM Common Cause:

This year, after a series of high-profile corruption cases, the best ideas from the other 42 states who have ethics commissions were put together along with a constitutional amendment idea that was introduced in the 2015 session by Rep. Zack Cook (R-Ruidoso) and Sen. Peter Wirth, to create HJR 5 sponsored by the tenacious Rep. Jim Dines (R-Abq) and Rep. Jeff Steinborn (D-Las Cruces). A draft of this legislation was emailed to members of the legislature and discussed in meetings with individuals this fall and again this winter by staff of our organization. This isn’t some trite, worn-out idea, it was one that has been shown to work – in 42 other states.

This isn’t some exercise in insanity where we are building a “cottage industry” around trying a failed idea over and over again. When someone states that this idea is “DOA” from the get-go, that does not illustrate the futility of this initiative, but instead shows the hopelessness and apathy for changing “the way things have always been here.” Those hopeless pessimists have lost faith in anyone’s ability for our state to turn itself around after the string of scandals that have garnered our great state unflattering national news coverage. Moreover, those mopey individuals don’t even bother to inspire our elected officials to work to affect the changes our citizens need.

This, “why bother” mentality doesn’t faze the optimists who know our state is better than this and we can show it. . . So yup, all of us Crazy Radical Optimists will be bringing reform back again next year because we know that persistence pays when it’s the right thing to do. 

The ethics commission passed the GOP controlled House but bit the dust in a Dem dominated Senate Committee. So what if the R's take over the Senate this year? Would the ethics commission finally win? Don't bet on it. Senate Minority Leader Stu Ingle would likely become Senate Majority Leader and he is dead-set against the idea.


There were some environmental issues in the legislative session, including an extension of the solar tax credit which could not make it out of the gate. Conservation Voters of NM came with a recap of that and other enviro legislation.

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