Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Richardson in CREW'S "Worst Governors" List

Here's another national list where New Mexico is right toward the top: The Citizens for Ethics & Responsibility in Washington's 11 Worst Governors List.

Of Gov. Bill Richardson, CREW writes that he:

* Used state investments to benefit political allies
* Allowed pay-to-play scandals to plague his administration
* Rewarded close associates with state positions or benefits, including providing a longtime friend and political supporter with a costly state contract
* Failed to make state government more transparent

"In compiling Worst Governors, CREW reviewed the job performances of all 50 U.S. governors before identifying the worst 11, a CREW news release said. "Though ethics laws, campaign finance rules and financial disclosure regulations vary from state to state, CREW found these governors’ proclivities for corruption, cronyism and self-enrichment outweighed their competency, integrity and commitment to transparency."

CREW in 2007 criticized and filed ethics complaints against then New Mexico U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson and Sen. Pete Domenici for their roles in the U,S. Attorney scandal, specifically for calling then U.S. Attorney David Iglesisas about the Manny Aragon investigation. (Iglesias said the calls amounted to political pressure, which Domenici and Wilson have repeatedly denied.) The group also criticized then Rep. Steve Pearce for financial dealings. Pearce denied wrongdoing.

State Republicans, including the staff of the Congress members dismissed CREW as a "partisan" organization. I wonder if they'll do that now that Richardson is in the hot seat.

Richardson is one of two Democrats on the list, the other being New York Gov. David Patterson.

Others on the list include:

• Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS);
• Gov. Donald Carcieri (R-RI);
• Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV);
• Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA);
• Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA);
• Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX);
• Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD);
• Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC); and
• Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA).

Here's the report:

CREW's Bill Richardson Profile

UPDATE: Why 11 and not, say 10 or a dozen? CREW's Peter Bjork told me in an email, "... we examined the job performance of all 50 US governors using common criteria, and felt that these 11 qualified as the `worst.' The list is unranked, so there wasn’t any need to strive for a nice round number."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Richardson spokeswoman Alarie Ray-Garcia responds: "This report is ridiculous considering Gov. Richardson has led the way for ethics reform in New Mexico. It's also difficult to take it seriously since it relies almost exclusively on the Albuquerque Journal as its source."