Saturday, June 01, 2013

Saturday Update: NM Politics Shaken By Revelation That Ex-Fundraiser for Gov. Martinez Says She Was Interviewed by FBI About ABQ Downs Racino; Andrea Goff's Full Statement Is Here 

Andrea Goff
Wow. After an intense week of speculation, Andrea Goff, the ex-fund-raiser for Governor Martinez, blew the lid off New Mexico politics and delivered a shocker--She confirms that she has been interviewed by the FBI about the ABQ Downs racino, Here is the complete statement she releases from Hobbs Saturday afternoon that shook the Governor and her political team who had insisted there had been no federal law enforcement inquires regarding activities at the racino whose owners were awarded  a controversial 25 year lease under the Martinez administration.

The following statement was released by Andrea Goff, former Finance Director of Susana Martinez for Governor and SusanaPAC and former Executive Director of the 2010 Inaugural Committee:

"Due to intense speculation and misinformation, I feel it is appropriate to come forward and acknowledge that I complied with a request from the FBI to answer questions related to various activities including those related to the Downs Racino. At the request of the FBI and on the advice of my attorney, Terence Hart of Bracewell Giuliani, I will not be answering any questions about the specifics of my interview. However, I will add that none of the questions were related to the recent investigation and indictment of Jamie Estrada.

I, like any of the others questioned, did not ask to be involved in this investigation and I hope you will respect everyone's privacy. I will not be making any further comments on this matter now or in the future."

Goff told me in a phone interview that her interview with the FBI had taken place in the last three weeks. Here's more from the Santa Fe Reporter.

Goff's father-in-law is a state fair commissioner. She is a longtime fund-raiser for GOP Congressman Steve Pearce and is currently heading up his fund-raising for his 2014 campaign.

Whether the FBI had or had not been asking questions about the ABQ Downs racino led to a media battle between the Santa Fe Reporter and KRQE-TV. SFR said its sources said the FBI had been asking questions. KRQE said the SFR was wrong. Goff's statement appears to settle the matter--SFR had it right and KRQE had it wrong. More to come...

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

What's Next? Indictment In Email Hacking Of Guv Campaign Account Leaves Questions About Emails Disclosed; Does Justice Also Have ABQ Racino Lease In Its Sights? Plus: Possible Conflicts Surface For TV Station In Covering Downs Dealing 

Estrada by Bralley
Well, one thing seems sure--if the Feds do pursue any wrongdoing in the awarding of the Downs at ABQ racino lease, it's going to be darn difficult to accuse the Justice Department of playing politics. Not after they indicted Jamie Estrada, a former campaign staffer for Governor Martinez who hacked a campaign email account and then released damaging emails exchanged between top Martinez administration officials over that lease.

(The full indictment is here. ABQ Journal coverage here.)

Republican Martinez and her team demanded the investigation of the hacked email. They got that and an indictment --from a Democratic US Attorney. The political coast is now clear for soon-to-be new US Attorney Damon Martinez to get to the bottom of the Downs wheeling and dealing--if he so chooses.

Now that the smoke is clearing over the emails, we are back to square one--is there or is there not--or will there be--an FBI investigation into the bid rigging allegations raised by the released emails?

Has the FBI recently been asking around about the deal?

One of the Senior Alligators who thinks it should--if it already isn't--made this of the Estrada indictment:

"This is like indicting Daniel Ellsberg for releasing the Pentagon Papers."

The Pentagon Papers involved the right of the media to release classified government documents handed over to them illegally.


William Anderson-KRQE
The Downs case has also caused media mayhem--but of a different sort. On the eve of the email indictment, the Santa Fe Reporter came with a story that quoted former Martinez campaign staffers (They say Estrada was not among them) that the FBI was asking questions recently about the racino lease and consulting payments made to powerful Gov political adviser Jay McCleskey.

KRQE-TV ran a report Wednesday that said their anonymous sources say the FBI isn't asking any questions at all about the lease. The SFR, again citing its reporting, demanded a correction from KRQE-TV news which called the SFR report "inaccurate." It was not forthcoming from station manager William Anderson:

"We are always accountable for what we report, and you are welcome to challenge us," William Anderson, KRQE's president and general manager, writes in an email to SFR. "In this case we have multiple sources behind our story and we are confident in our report."

Still, Anderson and his station have to wrestle with the perception in corners of the political community that it leans the administration's way because of its close ties with current ABQ Downs manager and former KRQE news reporter Darren White. White remains a member of the Martinez political inner circle and he retains strong relationships with the KRQE news department.


Maestas, Darnell & friend
Also, KRQE-TV executive news producer Tim Maestas is seen posing on Facebook with Governor Martinez Deputy Chief of Staff Scott Darnell where they are described as "best friends." Nothing wrong with friendship--as long as it does not influence the important decisions a producer must make regarding the political coverage of a CBS News affiliate.

Should an executive news producer who is best friends with a Governor's deputy chief of staff exclude himself from involvement in decisions that include news coverage of the Governor?

Also, Paul Burt, managing editor for KRQE-TV news, is a personal friend of former KRQE reporter Darren White, now in the inner circle of Martinez's political team as well as manager of the Downs at ABQ which is so much in the news.

Burt once told us the two men were so close that  "he would take a bullet" for White. Loyalty is admirable, but again is there an ethical wall between the two when it comes to Burt determining news coverage?

The station also came under fire in the blogosphere from former ABQ Journal reporter Phil Parker who has become a Martinez critic.

KRQE interviewed Governor Martinez Thursday and asked her if she was aware of any questioning by federal authorities of the Downs deal. She said no one from "my administration" has been asked about the Downs deal by the Feds. But the SFR report said former Martinez staffers had been questioned--not Martinez administration officials. So the Governor's statement does not seem to advance KRQE's case that there is no federal involvement.

So far, KRQE is half-right. Their sourcing was solid when they reported that there could be an indictment in the email hacking by the end of the week. It happened.

But the other half of the story--the one important to the state that the SFR and KRQE are at odds over--is far from settled. Are the Feds asking questions about the racino deal? Or is that a race that has already been run? Whose sources have it right? It could be months or more before we know with certainty, but the SFR numbers among its sources a lawyer for one of Martinez's ex-campaign staffers. Did he or she intentionally lie to the Reporter? Why? What would be the motive? Then there is KRQE's record of accuracy. It's not shabby. Are their sources-not characterized by occupation or association--truly reliable?

Maybe the investigative reporters from the ABQ Journal and KOB-TV can do their best to settle the matter on their own and start digging, rather than depending on sources who may have dogs in the fight.


And let's throw this meat out there for the Alligators. Is it possible one of SFR's unnamed sources could surface and agree to publicly state they were recently interviewed by the FBI regarding the racino deal? We're just asking.


The final outcome of the Downs deal, of course, is critical to the re-election of the Governor who proclaimed she was vindicated by the indictment of Estrada, the alleged email hacker who had a falling out with her early in her 2010 Guv campaign.

Meantime, political allies of the Governor have been in hyper over drive on the social media site Twitter, attacking select journalists and bloggers. They claim they are biased or "party hacks" for  asking about the Downs lease. They also say the journalists and bloggers--your blogger among them--are engaging in a politically motivated effort to take attention away from the email hacking,

The journalists and bloggers under attack by, among others, Downs VP for corporate affairs Darren White and Rod Adair, a former GOP state senator now an administrator in the Secretary of State's office who supervises the Elections Bureau, are saying the exact opposite--that the administration is using the email hacking as a smoke screen to keep the public eye away from what may be a seedy Downs lease deal.

(Adair. a longtime political ally of Guv adviser McCleskey, is paid $80,000 annually in taxpayer dollars. He did not directly answer our questions on whether he was using a state computer or working on state time while leveling the Twitter attacks. An Adair social media friend said he was using an I-Phone and was on vacation Thursday. Adair is under the supervision of Secretary of State Dianna Duran. He did say directly that his attacks on us and others were being made as a "citizen.")

It's all rather nasty insider baseball but it reminds everyone that the press and media have a job to do and the politicians have one as well. The two are not the same.

The New Mexico press and media must be strong enough to adopt the traditional adversarial relationship with the political powers that be--untainted by old ties, personal favorites or political beliefs. That's essential to keep power in check--no matter who holds it and no matter how intimidating they make themselves out to be.


An interesting Dem primary for state auditor is shaping up. ABQ State Senator Tim Keller has thrown his hat into the ring that is already occupied by former State Auditor Domingo Martinez  Keller also mulled over a run for Guv, but decided to make the lower ballot race. He says:

Being our next Auditor offers the platform to champion government reform ideas I’ve worked on in the legislature. I plan on continue to attack fraud, waste and abuse; and also to evaluate the effectiveness and cost benefits to improve state funded programs including: education, healthcare, water and economic development policies. On personal note, Liz and I are expecting our first child end of July!

There's not much downside for Keller if he can't bring the race home. He gets to continue to serve in the Senate where his term expires at the end of 2016.a

That's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Breaking: Feds Indict In Email Case, New Mexico Still Odd Man Out In Nascent Housing Recovery, Plus: Downs And The Media; Conflicting Reporting, Santa Fe Reporter Vs. KRQE-TV, And: Is it Burque Or Albuquerque? The Readers Write 

  • Breaking news: Former campaign staffer Jamie Estrada has been indicted on federal charges of "computer intrusion and false statement charges" in connection with the hacking of an email system of Governor Martinez. Details here and here . Here's a a background report on the story.

  • New Mexico is still the odd man out when it comes to the nascent recovery in housing prices. The upward surge could mean looser wallets and more retail spending as homeowners gain confidence as they see their homes regain some of the value lost in the bubble years. But apparently not here:
    The latest data (for ABQ) shows average home sales prices in April 2013 at $197,908, down 6.3 percent from one year ago. For New Mexico, median prices for April 2013 showed a 0.3 percent decrease from April 2012, $164,000 compared to $164,490, and a 0.6 percent decrease from April 2011, when the reported median was $165,000.

    That's in contrast to this news:

    Posting the biggest gain in seven years, home prices rose 10.9% in the 12 months ending in March, a closely watched housing index said Tuesday. From February, prices were up 1.4% for the 20-city composite, as measured by the monthly Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index.

    ABQ homes are selling as investors and apartment dwellers warm to the lower prices and low mortgage rates, but a stagnant economy here that is producing no jobs is keeping a lid on ABQ housing prices.

    What's happening in the northern NM town of Taos mimics the entire state:

    Perhaps one of the most telling trends in the economic report is related to the civilian labor force... There were 84 fewer people classified as unemployed last year, bringing the county’s unemployment rate down to 8.8 percent. However, that drop was partially attributable to the fact that there were 562 fewer employed people in 2012. Losses in both categories brought the total labor force to 16,587 people--the lowest level since 2000.

    But the latest statewide and ABQ jobs report comparing this April to last indicates some recovery may finally be underway:

    New Mexico gained 7,900 jobs in the 12 months that ended on April 30 for a 1 percent growth rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday. Of those jobs, 2,700 were in the Albuquerque area, which saw a .7 percent growth rate over the year.

    It's not stuff you pop the champagne corks over, but it's better than it was.


    We're all eyes after KRQE-TV news asserted on its 10 p.m. news last night that the Santa Fe Reporter (SFR) and its sources have it all wrong on its headline making story on the ABQ Downs racino lease.

    KRQE says its sources claim the FBI is not asking any questions of former Governor Martinez campaign staffers about the controversial racino lease awarded to the Downs at ABQ. The SFR reported the opposite.

    In its report, KRQE first showed two national headlines that erroneously said Governor Martinez was being investigated by the FBI. Those headlines were based on the SFR story, but the SFR itself did not make that claim. The headline on the SFR story said:

    Sources: FBI has conducted interviews about controversial racino deal

    The TV station then said--contrary to the newspaper--that  their sources tell them that the FBI is not asking any questions at all  about the lucrative racino lease but are asking questions only about who hacked into a campaign email account of the Governor.

    The emails in that account raised the issue of possible bid-rigging for the Downs deal among top administration officials. KRQE then said its "sources" say that there could be indictments "by the end of the week" regarding the email hacking.  (There was an indictment in the email case today as we report above)>

    We do not have a transcript or video of the KRQE report. As of Midnight. we did not see any posted on their web site. We did not record the newscast. We are recounting what we viewed as the story aired live. We're waiting to see if a permanent record of the story is posted by the station--as there is for the SFR story--and we will link to if and when they post it or send it to us. If we find we misquoted any of it we will let you know. (The station this morning posted the video of the report on the web site, but not the transcript.)

    This is the first skirmish in what could be a long war over this story--between media outlets as well as the politicians. The SFR, an alternative news outlet with a reputation for edgy but accurate reporting, is certainly going to stand by its sources who they said included an attorney for one of the ex-campaign staffers as well as the staffers themselves.

    Downs at ABQ general manager Darren White, who was once a reporter for KRQE-TV, praised the KRQE report and attacked the SFR via his Twitter account:

    Nice for @krqe to show difference between journalism & smear job. FBI investigating stolen emails. Period.

    Channel 13 did not characterize in any way their sources--whether they are from law enforcement, from the Governor's political camp or someone else who is telling them there "could" be indictments and claiming that the FBI is not asking any questions at all about the awarding of the racino lease.

    The administration has been doing all it can to have the media and public focus on the email hacking as the real wrong in this case--not the possible bribery and corruption in the ABQ racino deal that are the focus of the SFR account. There was a federal  indictment in the email case late Thursday morning that we cover at the top of today's blog.


    A postscript--Some national media outlets weren't the only ones who ran inaccurate headlines on this story. We ran an inaccurate headline in the first draft of our blog Wednesday. It said the Santa Fe Reporter said Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey had been interviewed by the FBI. That was inaccurate. The paper reported that the ex-campaign staffers said they were asked by the FBI about consulting payments McCleskey had received. It was not disclosed in the article what the consulting payments were for or from whom. We corrected the blog and apologized for the error on both the blog and our Twitter account.


    It got pretty intense (and fun) around here Wednesday when we suggested that "Burque," a nickname for Albuquerque, be banned and we likened it to something gangbangers say. Allen Sanchez roasted our suggestion this way:

    Will some one ban that name "Joe"?  In Spanish it sounds like a hole in the ground. What happened to that dignified name "Joseph."Or worse "Dick" for "Richard." Remember someone's mama gave them that name. Nicknames are terms of endearment. Burque has been used for centuries. I remember my sweet 80 year old grand father use that term "Burque" when I was a little boy. My Tata (grandfather) was no gang banger. So Joe we will tolerate "Joe" if you tolerate our term of endearment "Burque". By the way, we always thought of you as an honorary Burqueno, if it fits wear it.

    Thanks, Allen. Of course, we won't tell anyone that you live in Valencia County.

    Helen Laura Lopez chimed in from Taos:

    Joe - You stepped in it this time. Ban the Burque is the most controversial thing you have written in a decade. Fugeddaboudit. It aint gonna happen.

    Matthew Garcia-Sierra writes:

    Saying that "burqueño" and "burque" are "gang-banger" words is elitist. Those words, to me and my circle of friends, represent the culture that we have grown up in. I am a student, close to graduating with a degree in Strategic Communications, and I see the terms "burque" and "burqueño" as ingenious marketing words that will set our city apart from others. New Mexico is slow to change and adopt new ideas, but I know that my generation is ready for the future and set to make New Mexico the destination that it should be. These words are harmless and by stating that they are associated with "gangbangers" disrespects my entire generation and degrades our achievements.

    From ABQ, Bernadette Chavez wrote

     I so agree with you. Burque or Burquenos is a gang moniker. Period! Ask anyone who works closely with gangs in this city. In using this to describe our wonderful city, we are giving a high five to all the gangs who wear shirts with the moniker "Burque." Little do people know that on these shirts the "R" is a gun. 

    Well, long live Albuquerque or "Burque"--if you must.

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    Wednesday, May 29, 2013

    Newspaper Reports FBI Back On Downs Racino Lease Deal; It's A Dangerous Story For The Guv, Plus: Death Claims Longtime ABQ Politico Andrew Leo Lopez 

    A high impact story from the Santa Fe Reporter (where's the ABQ Journal?) brings back into play the question of bid-rigging for the lease at the Downs at ABQ racino. The paper says the FBI has asked former campaign staffers about consulting payments received by powerful Guv political adviser Jay McCleskey:

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation recently interviewed former campaign staffers for...Martinez about a lucrative racino lease awarded to a politically connected company, SFR has learned. The possible investigation—which the FBI will neither confirm nor deny—marks a significant development in what has become one of the Martinez administration’s biggest controversies.

    SFR’s sources, who request anonymity because they fear retribution, say the FBI interviewed them about key aspects of the Downs deal: the bidding process, and the relationships between Downs players and top public officials. Specifically, they say the federal agency asked about consulting payments to Jay McCleskey, Martinez’ top political advisor (who is not a state employee). An attorney for one of the campaign staffers interviewed by the FBI confirms the interview occurred within the past two weeks.

    Longtime McCleskey political ally and former Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White was named general manager of the Downs when the new company took over. That raised eyebrows because White had no racino experience.

    McCleskey would not comment "for the record," leaving the impression that something was afoot. But Adam Feldman, a business and political associate of McCleskey's, took to Twitter soon after the news broke last night and tried to impugn the credibility of the newspaper's report. He said in a Tweet that was repeated by Darren White:

    Unnamed fired campaign staff with lawyers and (who are) targets of federal email probe are not credible sources.

    Well, if the Santa Fe paper's sources are faulty, as Feldman says, shouldn't the state's investigative reporters start taking their own independent look at the story?

    This has always been a dangerous story for the Governor because she was elected on a pledge of high ethics and accused the Richardson administration of being an ethical hell hole. If the Downs deal is found to be down and dirty and people in her administration start to fall, her credibility becomes more precarious.

    In an earlier draft of this story we said the newspaper said McCleskey had been interviewed by the FBI. The article did not say that. We apologize for the error.


    About that bribery case against a Las Cruces judge that crashed and burned on special prosecutor and possible 2014 GOP attorney general candidate Matt Chandler. The case was also bought into by a frenzied media and gets this final  analysis from the accused judge's attorney:

    What is disturbing about the Murphy case is not that politics mixed with judicial selection but that politics interfered with criminal justice. The judiciary and the political system, both imperfect institutions, were, in this instance, wrongly tainted. Legitimate political activity was twisted to appear criminal, conspiracy theories were suggested, nonsensical legal theories were posed and exculpatory information was not presented. The public was misled about the scope and seriousness of the case. Bill Richardson had practically nothing to do with the case. He was not even interviewed. Yet his name was left to provide political star power to an otherwise lackluster and politically meaningless case.

    It was alleged during the course of the case that ex-Guv Richardson received envelopes of cash in exchange for naming judges, but Chandler walked away from the case with Murphy copping only to a misdemeanor charge. 


    Will someone call the Mayor and ask him to ban the use of this word: "Burqueños" What is that, anyway? Sounds like a bunch of gang-bangers. While he's at it, can he also ban "Burque," the underground nickname for ABQ out of the area lexicon? Another nickname so ugly it makes you wretch. Thankfully, the use of these phrases seems confined to a small portion of the SE Heights where leftover psychedelic drugs from the 60's are still being consumed....


    Andrew Leo Lopez liked to put mayonnaise on his chicharrones. It was quite the sight to see, but then it was always an event of some sort when you met up with the ABQ South Valley political gadfly, perennial candidate and amateur New Mexican historian. Lopez, 65, was found dead at his home Tuesday, apparently of natural causes.

    At the time of his passing he was a candidate yet again--this time for a seat on the board of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. That election is June 4.

    Shortly after we began this blog in 2003, Andrew was one of the first to start contributing his colorful take on state politics. When we nicknamed our informed sources "Alligators" he readily adopted the title. And when we expanded the category to include "Senior Alligators"--those over 45 years old and with at least 20 years experience in NM politics--he insisted that he be the first one--and not be anonymous.

    Over the years he helped us break innumerable stories. His accuracy rate rivaled The AP's.

    He was a certified public account and and a graduate of Stanford University, but more than anything he wanted to be elected to public office.  But electoral success always eluded him, probably because he would not mince his words about anything or anyone. He made a lot of friends but also many foes.

    "He had a personality that could rub some the wrong way but once you got past that you discovered the wealth of knowledge he possessed about New Mexico," remarked ABQ City Councilor Ken Sanchez. Lopez was working part-time at Sanchez's tax business at the time of his death.

    Andrew called himself a Democrat, but at heart he was a conservative. (His brother Rick Lopez is prominent in GOP circles). At our last lunch at the Barelas Coffee House he continued to lobby on behalf of Governor Martinez, who he was especially proud of for becoming the state's first Hispanic female governor.

    Andrew Leo Lopez was a northern New Mexico native who made every politico's business his own. He left in his wake controversy, amusement and an unabashed love for the people of New Mexico. He was a true character of La Politica.

    Hasta luego, Amigo.

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    Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    State Dems Start '14 Cycle With Spiffy Logo But No Cash, Plus: Big Mo For Tourism Here? And: Now She Owns It; Guv Says Tax Package Will End Jobs Funk 

    Here's the spiffy new logo for the New Mexico Democratic Party. It looks a lot better than the state of the party's finances, report Dem insiders.

    New party chairman Sam Bregman was faced with a bank balance of basically zero when he took over this month. He will have to do overtime this summer to get the party cash flow up to par.

    And then there's the job of raising cash to form a Super PAC to go after ABQ GOP Mayor Richard Berry who is seeking re-election this October. Bregman sees the party as being the heavy hitter against Berry, letting Dinelli spend more of his limited public financing on buffing his own image. Dinelli's "likability" has surfaced as an early issue for him. Dem Dinelli has about $350,000 to spend. Berry rejected public financing and is busy raising money...


    We were table pounding over having the state increasing the advertising budget to attract tourists. The Governor and Legislature agreed and tourism secretary Monica Jacobson says the extra cash is about to create some momentum:

    Jacobson's department is receiving $4.5 million in advertising funds, up from $2.5 million last year. New Mexico is currently the 38th-most visited state and attracts less than 1 percent of travelers in the U.S., she said.

    38th? Well, we're biased but the natural wonders of New Mexico deserve a higher ranking than that.

    Santa Fe's economic austerity crowd says the recently approved tax package will attract business to the state. It probably won't because of deeper issues, but spending money to make money in tourism has a proven track record--and it benefits multiple small businesses that dot the state.

    Jacobson worked in Chicago in marketing before taking her cabinet slot. She says the ad campaign will heavily target that city. That might be a good fit. "Windy City" denizens would feel right at home here in March...


    Will it be a grand payoff or a political bomb? That seems to be what's shaping up for the Governor over that controversial tax package approved with her support by the legislature.

    She is on the campaign trail, saying it will indeed bring the jobs here it promised. The election is not until November 2014, so if those jobs don't materialize, will she be held directly accountable for the state's economic performance?

    If the jobs don't pan out, blaming it on Washington or obstructionist Democrats--as has been Santa Fe's habit--is going to be a tougher sell. On the other hand, if companies do start coming here the political payoff will be big.

    There's already been some trouble for Martinez on this. State economic secretary Jon Barela told a legislative committee this month that several ABQ companies were about to pull 1,500 jobs out of the city if the tax package failed. But Barela refused to name the companies, signaling that the gamesmanship over this tax deal is under way.

    This is an important shift in the '14 election dynamic. This tax deal is the Governor's first major embrace of this currently lousy economy as her own:

    Gov. Martinez said she wants more private industry to come to New Mexico to give it a more diverse economic base, and she credited state lawmakers with passing legislation aimed at that goal. It’s unwise to rely so heavily on the federal funding that comes from the states’ national labs and military bases, she said. She pointed out that the sequestration, or cuts in federal spending that began earlier this year, would affect New Mexico “disproportionately,” compared to other states.

    As she indicated, the majority Democrats have given Martinez cover by approving the tax package. So if the economy remains in the doldrums it would appear the worst possible Guv candidate for the Dems would be any legislator who voted for that package. 

    As for the Governor's comments on federal funding, they show the towering task ahead. What is going to replace all that federal funding if it is indeed trimmed in the years ahead? As we blogged last week, many people aren't sticking around to find out...


    Syndicated columnist Ned Cantwell (yes, he is surprised himself that he is still around) has the bottom lines today. He points out that the politicos are often given the credit or blame for the ups and downs of the economy, even if that economy is doing its own thing:

    It is fair game to blame a lagging economy on the party in power and, certainly, political policy has an effect on economic activity. Just how much is anyone's guess. The gears of the economic engine grind slowly and many of its contributing factors don't care who is running the government. Although many of our political leaders would have their constituents believe they have much in common with God, I've not met any who could actually produce rain or, for that matter, bring factories to small New Mexico towns.

    Come on, Ned. What about that time Big Bill walked on water? You forgot about that, already?

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    Monday, May 27, 2013

    Former Cabinet Secretary Dumped By Guv Says Once He Was Blind But Now He Sees; What Rick May Didn't Know That He Should Have  

    Rick May
    Rick May is looking to cry on the public's shoulder, but the former Martinez cabinet secretary is not going to get much sympathy over his tale of woe and mistreatment at the hands of Chief of Staff Keith Gardner.

    May, armed with an impressive resume that includes service on the House Budget Committee in DC, quit a good job as director of government relations for Sandia Labs and in 2011 took a $25,000 pay cut to become the Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration.

    Apparently he wasn't reading the blog and actually thought he would be able to exercise independent thinking. Says May today:

    I was excluded from everything...I was sending memos about this budget issue, that budget issue. I’d never get anything back....All I would get were screaming matches telling me that my ideas were politically stupid. Gardner would tell me, ‘This idea’s stupid. This is political suicide.'"

    May clarified later in the interview that Gardner didn’t actually scream at him. Instead, May characterized the exchanges as “harsh criticism” of his ideas by Gardner and others...

    That May did not know going in that he would be a servile minion and that Gardner answers directly to Martinez political consultant Jay McCleskey--known far and wide as "The Shadow Governor"--seems ludicrous. But some folks just have to touch the burner on the stove to see if it's hot--Mr. May clearly being one of them.

    Shortly after Martinez took office we were at Starbucks and ran into Allen Weh, the former NM GOP chairman who ran against Martinez for the 2010 Guv nomination. We had a rocky relationship with him in part because of our years long reporting here of how a small network of lobbyists and consultants ultimately controlled the party and how they benefited financially. That network included McCleskey and lawyer/lobbyists Mickey Barnett and Pat Rogers. Even though Santa Fe lobbyist Barnett in 2004 openly ran his own slate of legislative candidates in the GOP primary and that same year the gang all openly ganged up to oust Ramsay Gorham as GOP chair, Weh and others still insisted that we had it wrong.

    That day at Starbucks--and I don't think Weh will mind us telling it now--he shook my hand and said (we paraphrase): "I really didn't get what you were writing or talking about when I was chairman, but when I became a candidate I saw it all. I see now that you were right all along..."

    And now Rick May can also exclaim, "Once I was blind, but now I see."

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