Mario Burgos

Clear thinking and straight talk from the top of a mountain.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It Just Keeps Getting Worse

With every passing week, it becomes ever clearer that Governor Richardson, and everyone in his administration,  will find themselves tainted come Election Day by the pay-to-play political scandals of the last eight years:
Douglas Goldberg, a former vice president of CDR Financial Products, admitted in federal court in Manhattan on Monday that he was involved nationally in bid rigging of investment agreements and other contracts involving municipal bonds from 1998 to at least November 2006. He is cooperating with authorities.
        

Goldberg was involved in getting CDR hired in 2004 to work on the $1.6 billion state bond program in New Mexico known as Governor Richardson's Investment Partnership.
        

The company won a contract as an adviser on exotic financing arrangements that were not described in the request for proposals issued by the New Mexico Finance Authority.
        

It later received a no-bid, sole-source deal to manage the escrow account for the bond proceeds from the authority, which was charged with handling the GRIP financing for the Rail Runner and other New Mexico transportation projects.

The voting public is not going to be able to drive a road or see the RailRunner without being reminded that someone bought the opportunity to win those projects from this administration.  Now, some of you may think that Governor Richardson is termed out, so this is all just water under the bridge.  But, this is clearly not the case.

Take for example the current scandal plaguing the Secretary of State's office. We might all remember that not all that long ago Insurance Superintendent Eric Serna was chased from office for the shakedown of those doing business with his office:
Former New Mexico Insurance Superintendent, Eric Serna, got forced to resign after years of allegedly shaking down those that came under his authority:
Serna indicated to Madison that he favored "good corporate citizens" making contributions to legitimate charitable organizations. Ruiz said Serna sometimes "looked the other way" on fines when insurance companies agreed to make contributions to favored charities. Ruiz said Serna would choose Con Alma and $35,000 would be sufficient.
At first glance, some might argue that he is just trying to help out some needy charities. Of course we later learned that Serna used at least one of those charities as his own personal slush fund.
A couple of years later, we see that absolutely nothing has changed. Our elected Democratic officials are still following the example set by the Richardson Administration:
A string of e-mails obtained by the SUN does support one of the allegations made in Salazar’s letter. Salazar states in one e-mail to [Secretary of State Mary] Herrera that he feared losing his law license because of activities in the Office.
“Ma’am, I not only have a duty to protect you, this office and the people of New Mexico, I also have my law license to protect,” Salazar wrote in a Feb. 12 e-mail to Herrera. “By law, this office is charged with responsibility for enforcing the Governmental Conduct Act. If we are asking our current contractors for this, then it is illegal.”

This e-mail refers to the Office’s attempt to ask private companies that contract with the Office for money to help fund a training event for county clerks to be held later this month.
What blows my mind is that you would think Secretary of State Mary Herrera would be particularly diligent in following the letter of the law considering her immediate predecessor is under indictment for her activities while heading up that office. But hey, this is the Land of Eternal Single Party Rule.  A magical place where elected officials can shakedown businesses and individuals with impunity.  Sure, they will occasionally have to throw one of their own to the scales of justice, but then they go back to their ways without ever worrying about Election Day ramifications... until now.

Election Day 2010 is looking to be the day the piper finally comes to get paid.  People have had just about enough and are ready to bring honesty back to elected offices. Granted, the favorite attorney of the pay-to-play crowd (e.g. Vigil and Correra) may see a downturn in business, but the rest of us will be far better off.  Heck, it looks like even Mr. Bregman might need a little time for a breather. His ability to outright deny the allegations of wrongdoing by his clients is becoming more and difficult:
But Bregman told the Journal that Salazar's resignation had nothing to do with any of the concerns voiced in the letter.
        

"It had everything to do with the fact that he didn't want to work," Bregman said. "It's clear he wasn't a good fit for this office — as he said in the e-mail — and that's because it required a lot of work."
Even the casual reader can't help but notice that in his attempt to deflect the blame, even Secretary of State Herrera's attorney didn't deny the allegations of the resignation letter, which if you haven't read, I would strongly urge you to do so (hat tip: nmpolitics.net).

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