Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Senate Rejects Holguin

By a vote of 17-25, the Senate just rejected the nomination of Neri Holguin to the Environmental Improvement Board.

Holguin is a professional Democratic political consultant who ran the campaigns of Sens. Eric Griego and Tim Keller among others.

That didn't stop 10 Democrats from joining with Republicans to kill the nomination. In fact, her work on those campaigns apparently is what sunk her.

Although Holguin doesn't work for the Center for Civic Policy or its affiliate, New Mexico Youth Organized, and the Southwest Organizing Project, the vote was the latest manifestation of many senators' animosity towards those groups.

The CCP and NMYO were the non-profit groups that during the 2008 primary season sent out flyers criticizing the voting records of several legislators including former Sens. Shannon Robinson and James Taylor -- who lost to Keller and Griego respectively.

Critics of the non-profits blasted the groups for not disclosing their financial contributors.

Griego expressed anger at the vote, noting that lobbyists and others representing corporate interests routinely are confirmed for boards and positions. He also noted that the Senate approved the confirmations of University of New Mexico regents despite concerns about the politicalization of the Board of Regents.

Griego said there's noting wrong with making a living as a political consultant.

Keller said it was unfair to single out "a 35-year-old woman" for some senators' problems with the non-profits.

Senate President pro-Tem Tim Jennings said he voted for Holguin, but he shares the opponents' concerns about non-profits. He claimed some non-profits that get involved in elections are government funded.

That prompted Sen. Cisco McSorley to correct him, saying investigations have shown none of the group's Jennings is concerned about received government funds. McSorley pointed out that a federal judge ruled that the CCP and NMYO did nothing illegal. (The state attorney general has appealed that ruling by Judge Judith Herrera.)

UPDATE: The Democrats voting against Holguin were senators Linda Lopez of Albuquerque, Richard Martinez of Espanola, Howie Morales of Silver City, George Munoz of Gallup, Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces, John Pinto of Tohatchi , Bernadette Sanchez of Albuquerque, John Sapien of Corrales, John Arthur Smith of Deming, and David Ulibarri of Grants.

FURTHER UPDATE: Olguin released the following staetment:

I was surprised and disappointed by today's confirmation vote. Since July, I’ve served on the Environmental Improvement Board in a thoughtful and principled manner. I have a long track record of working on conservation in New Mexico. I will continue to advocate for the responsible stewardship of our natural resources and the public health, safety and welfare of New Mexicans.