First of all, I looked a little more into the free trips to Turkey taken by several New Mexico lawmakers in recent months, which I first reported in my column Thursday. In today's paper I explain that accepting the trips does not violate the state Gift Act, because the group paying for the trips does not lobby the Legislature and is not seeking state contracts.
The story points out that unlike the free ski passes they get and the various golf junkets from lobbyists in past years, lawmakers are not required to report such travel under current state law. Also I explain a little more what the Turkish organization called The Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians is all about.
By the way, I'm not disputing the educational value of foreign travel or anything like that. I just believe the public has the right to know when someone or some group is providing free overseas travel. And somehow, despite all the noble intentions, politicians never seem to write press releases when they accept such freebies.
You can read today's story HERE.
In other news, The Washington Post has a very complimentary story about Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Hector Balderas. You can find that HERE.
However, there is one glaring factual error that probably wouldn't be noticed by many outside of the small circle of New Mexico political junkies.
The Post wrote, "In the 2006 Democratic primary (for state auditor) , Balderas was cast as the underdog until his rival, Jeff Armijo, dropped out over sexual misconduct allegations."
In reality however, Balderas and Armijo were not "rivals." Balderas did not run in the state auditor primary that year. He didn't get on the ballot until Armijo, who did win the primary, was forced off the ticket over those allegations. Until that point, Balderas was seeking re-election to his seat in the Legislature. Here's an old column about the craziness of the Armijo mess.
Finally, if you were looking forward to seeing former Gov. Gary Johnson in the June 13 Republican presidential candidate debate, here's some bad news.
|Johnson in Santa Fe in January|
Johnson responded: "I respect the right of CNN and the other sponsors of the June 13 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary debate to apply their own criteria and invite who they choose. It is, however, unfortunate that a significant segment of the Republican Party, and more importantly, millions of independent voters who might be Republican voters, will not have a voice on the stage in Manchester."
Apparently Johnson was snubbed because he has fallen short of the magic 2-percent in the polls threshhold required. Looks like he's left out in the cold with Buddy Roemer, Vermin Supreme and other lesser-known candidates
Finally, Democrats are jumping all over the fact that U.S. Senate candidate Heather Wilson recently appeared at a campaign event -- in Colorado Springs -- with former George W. Bush political guru Karl Rove. Both were speakers at a GOP Lincoln Dinner.
Bringing back ugly memories of the 2006 U.S. Attorneys scandal, the Huffington Post noted that Rove testified that Wilson pushed him to fire former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias. Wilson has disputed that, saying she only mentioned Iglesias once to Rove and that was after the 2006 election. (Here's an old story where I talked about Wilson, Rove and Iglesias and here's a better one from Politico.)
One interesting item about the dinner where Rove and Wilson spoke. It attracted protesters. Not from lefties who detest "Bush's Brain," but from right wingers who hate the fact that Rove is so liberal. The Colorado Independent has that story.