Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Political Alligators Offer Questions On Franco's Louisiana Gator Hunting Trip 

Gators want to know
First Gentleman Chuck Franco says that controversial 2011 trip to Louisiana he took with two state policemen was for "alligator hunting." Well, now that the Guv refuses to release additional records on that trip it's predictable that the Alligators of La Politica are on the hunt for details about the trip. Off we go...

The curiosity is now especially intense because the Guv's office this week refused to say where Franco stayed during the nearly week long excursion that took place at the same time the hyper-controversial  25 year lease for the ABQ Downs racino lease was begin negotiated by the Martinez administration, Two of the three Downs' owners live in Louisiana. Bid-rigging has been alleged in the awarding of that lease. It has been the subject of FBI queries, according to two former Martinez campaign staffers and one of their attorneys.

The administration will only say that Franco and the officers on paid duty to provide security for Franco were "privately hosted," meaning there are no lodging records to be released. The Governor will not voluntarily reveal who the private hosts were, The state cites security concerns and also says Franco was on a private trip so it's none of our business--even though the two state employees who were with him were publicly paid employees. The Guv also says the private hosts who entertained the hunting party have no business with state government or involved with politics here. So why not say who they were to ease the suspicions?

Governor Martinez--through her operatives on social media--has expressed her upset with our blog because of our questions about whether the Downs lease and Franco's trip are connected. First of all, we and other media are wondering if there is a connection--not "claiming" there is one as the Governor is asserting we are. That's why we want the Governor to release all records.

Here's how the Santa Fe New Mexican reported it:

In answer to a reporter’s question, (Governor spokesman) Knell said Franco’s Louisiana hosts aren’t associated with the Downs of Albuquerque racetrack nor a hotel company owned by John Turner, one of the Downs owners. Turner and another one of the three principals of the Downs, William Windham, live in Louisiana. Franco’s trip took place while the Downs was bidding on a 25-year contract. The company was awarded the contract later in 2011.

No smear, just natural reportorial curiosity about whether the trip had any connection with the Downs lease.

That's how we do things in America. We ask annoying questions of people we give power to in order to keep them honest. We are taught to do that by the founders of the Republic and to stand up and defend ourselves from false attacks and intimidation by those holding power--whether it be a county commissioner or a sitting Governor of New Mexico. We don't have a large corporate owner to go to bat for us, but we have something even better--the First Amendment of the Constitution. Use it or lose it.

To the Gator pond...

Regarding Chuck Franco's 2011 hunting trip to Louisiana accompanied by two state police officers one of them asks State Auditor Hector Balderas if it is legal for the two state police officers who accompanied Franco to accept free accommodations:

The state cops are on duty. Their reports showing that have been released. Is accepting free accommodation legal? For example, what if the hunting party stayed one of the nights at the home of a relative of one of the state police officers? What's the rule on that?

Or how about a state legislator asking Attorney General King for an opinion on the issue?

Another Gator offers this:

Mightn't the ink-stained wretches at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Baton Rouge Advocate or the Shreveport Times have an idea about hunting trips for out-of-state politicos? I seem to recall that there have been some political dust-ups in Louisiana a time or two, so they might be aware of the comings and goings of New Mexicans accompanied by body guards. 

And reader Dennis Gabaldon says he would like the kind of hunting trip Chuck had:

The Governor says his trip had nothing to do with politics or state business? Then why don't you take me and some buddies of mine for an all expense paid hunting trip? I mean, like if you're handing them out or something.


The AP comes with this report on the trouble it is having getting state police records released from the "transparency" Governor. Again, where is Attorney General King who has said "security" concerns can't be used in refusing to release financial records for a state security detail.


Susana and Chuck
Las Cruces reader Greg Lennes has been having fun tracking the Franco trip and dug deep for this info:

Joe, This is pure speculation since Chuck Franco is not releasing details on his trip. 

Maybe Franco and dozens of alligator hunters made their way into the Louisiana swamps for their search for gators for the 2011 alligator season beginning on August 31st. It was a 30-day hunting season. Joe--these aren't your type of alligators.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries allowed lottery hunts on 22 public lakes, including several in northwest Louisiana. Only successful lottery hunters can participate. So did Chuck Franco participate? Interested hunters had to fill up an application from LDWF's website or request an application. Applicants had to be a legal Louisiana resident and 16 years of age or older. All successful applicants were required to purchase an alligator hunting license ($25).

The Louisiana alligator season ran from Aug. 31 through Oct. 6. Hunts were allowed on four Coastal  Nongame Resources Division Wildlife Management Areas and 13 Wildlife Division WMAs in addition to the public lakes.

Among the area lakes were Lake Bistineau in Webster, Bossier and Bienville parishes; Wallace Lake in Caddo Parish; Black/Cypress Lake in Bossier Parish; Cross Lake in Caddo Parish; Kepler Lake in Bienville Parish; Caddo Lake in Caddo Parish; and Black Lake in Natchitoches Parish. Maybe that is why he traveled in such a circuitous route--lake to lake

It is strange there is so much silence about Chuck Franco's hunting trip. He should be bragging about his hunting experience and about what he bagged in Louisiana. Did he use a bow or rifle in his hunting?

Actually, Greg,  if Chuck was hunting alligators he would have been using a harpoon. You know, the kind the Fourth Floor likes to throw at our Gators..

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by. Reporting from Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan.

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