Monday, August 27, 2012


I forgot to mention when I posted my column yesterday that I'm on vacation and will be out until Sept. 10.

Don't expect much in here until after then. Probably a little more going on in my music blog, but not that much.

Like this old song said, "See you in September."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: Johnson's Creative Ballot Access

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Aug. 26 2012

Fomer Gov. Gary Johnson
Back when former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson first began toying with the idea of aborting his bid to win the Republican nomination for president and run instead on the Libertarian Party ticket, he said one of the advantages of doing that was that the Libertarian Party would be on the ballot in all 50 states.

Johnson went on to change parties and to win the Libertarian nomination. But though he’s getting closer seemingly every day — he’s on about 40 state ballots at last count — Johnson still is struggling with getting on all of them. Some states are harder than others, but in a couple of instances, Johnson has figured out ways to get around restrictive state laws that discourage minor parties.

"Have you heard what’s going on in Oklahoma?," he asked me during an interview last week. “I’m on the ballot there on the Americans Elect ticket,” he explained.

Remember Americans Elect? It was a well-funded (if secretly funded) Internet-based effort that supposedly was going to involve some sort of online “convention” in which clear-sighted Americans would throw off the shackles of the two-party system, cut through the poisonous campaign rhetoric and nominate a serious, thoughtful moderate candidate for president.

Just a few months ago, some political pundits and strategists from both sides expressed fear that Americans Elect could become a real force.

Instead, it fizzled. When it came time for the online primary, not enough people had gotten behind any candidate to pull it off. But while they never got a nominee, Americans Elect did win a spot in at least 25 states, including New Mexico and, more importantly, including Oklahoma.

Earlier this month Americans Elect organizers in the Sooner State submitted to the State Board of Elections the names of Johnson and his running mate, retired California Judge Jim Gray.

There’s a little bit of irony there. Many months ago in conversations with Johnson, the former governor poo-pooed Americans Elect, dismissing it as a vehicle for New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who perennially is rumored to be considering a presidential bid.

But wait. There’s more. And this one’s even better.

“Have you heard what’s going on in Michigan?” Johnson asked me.

Michigan, like many states, has a “sore losers” law, used to prevent candidates who lose in a primary to switch parties and try again in the general election. That would exclude Johnson, whose name appeared on the Republican Michigan primary this year — months after Johnson switched parties. “I never asked to be on that primary ballot,” Johnson said.

He found out at the last minute that he had to sign a form to take his name off the ballot. Johnson told that Michigan declined his campaign’s request to remove him from the ballot because his paperwork was stamped at 4:03 p.m. — three minutes past the deadline.

So Johnson is suing the great state of Michigan to allow him to run there as a Libertarian.

Johnson and Johnson
But in case that doesn’t work, Johnson has another plan.

It turns out there’s a Libertarian Party member in Texas who has run for several offices who has volunteered to help. His name is Gary E. Johnson. Reportedly, Johnson met Johnson while in line for their credentials at the Libertarian Party convention in Las Vegas, Nev., in May.

The Texas guy’s middle name is “Edward,” while our Gary’s middle name is “Earl.” But if New Mexico Gary loses the court case, Texas Gary has agreed to step in so the name “Gary E. Johnson” will appear on the Michigan ballot.

“And if he wins in Michigan, he’s agreed to give me his electoral votes,” the former governor told me.

Whatever you think of former Gov. Johnson and his politics, you have to give him credit for creative problem solving.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Governor Skips Romney Appearance

Romney in Hobbs.
Photo stolen from Rob Nikolewski
New Mexico Capitol Report

One prominent New Mexico Republican not spotted in Hobbs today with GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was Gov. Susana Martinez.

Romney was in Hobbs to attend a fundraiser and to give a speech about energy policy.

State Democratic Party Chairman Javier Gonzales took note of that, and in a rare moment of bipartisan magnanimity, he called it a "smart move."

“After publicly stating she disagrees with parts of the Romney-Ryan budget, Governor Martinez made a smart move in avoiding appearing alongside Mitt Romney and his failed energy strategy today in Hobbs. Despite being slated for one of the top speaking slots at the Republican National Convention (RNC), Governor Martinez is distancing herself from Romney in her home state. That’s because she understands the devastating impact that the Romney-Ryan budget would have in New Mexico.

Gov. Susana MartinezThe disagreement Gonzales spoke of was a recent interview with Capital Report New Mexico in which she said, "I disagree with parts of [Ryan's budget proposals]. I certainly want our labs to be strong here in New Mexico. I will communicate that should Romney and Ryan win. I want New Mexico’s labs to remain just as they are.”

Martinez's political director Jay McCleskey said in an email, "Gov. Martinez had a long-standing commitment to speak at a luncheon with job creators from the top 100-revenue producing businesses in New Mexico. Unlike President Obama, Gov. Martinez understands that the economy is built by these local businesses and she kept her commitment to them."

According to a news release yesterday, the governor was attending a luncheon at Sandia Pueblo today about the same time as the Romney speech. The luncheon was hosted by a group called The New Mexico Private 100, which "recognizes the top 100 revenue-producing companies headquartered in New Mexico."

But if Martinez really is trying not to be associated with Romney, she's not doing a good job at it. As Gonzales alluded to, she's speaking next Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention in a "prime slot." (Right before keynote speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.) There's bound to be folks from New Mexico watching who'll get the idea that Martinez is supporting Romney.

Rasmussen Again Shows Obama, Heinrich Ahead in NM

The Rasmussen poll has a reputation of leaning Republican. But you wouldn't know that from their polls in New Mexico this year.

The company's latest poll in the Senate race, released today, shows Democrat Martin Heinrich leading Republican Heather Wilson by a seven-percentage point margin, 48 percent to 41 percent. Five percent back "other candidates" -- perhaps Independent American Jon Barrie or write-in Bob Anderson -- while seven percent were undecided.

In the presidential contest, President Obama has the support of 52 percent, Rasmussen said, while Mitt Romney, who spoke in Hobbs, N.M. today, was 14 percentage points behind at 38 percent. "Other candidates" (Gary Johnson, anyone?) got 9 percent in the poll, while a measly one percent said they were undecided.

Rasmussen has better numbers for Obama and Heinrich than the latest Public Policy Polling surveys in New Mexico. PPP, a Democratic aligned pollster, had both Heinrich and Obama ahead by just five percentage points in mid July.

In this recent poll, Rasmussen interviewed 500 likely voters on Tuesday. The margin of error is 4.5 percent.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Susana Opening for Chris Christie in Tampa

Gov. Susana MartinezThe Republican National Convention Just Announced the schedule for speakers for their convention next week.

Gov. Susana Martinez is speaking on Tuesday night (Aug. 28) right before keynote speaker Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

The convention convenes at 5:30 p.m. (I'm using Mountain Time here). There are several speakers before her, so I won't guess what time our governor is on.

Below is the full Tuesday schedule:

7:30 p.m.            Convention convenes
                          Presentation of Colors
                          Pledge of Allegiance
                          National Anthem sung by Philip Alongi
                          Remarks by Janine Turner
                          Video and remarks by Mayor Mia Love (Saratoga Springs, UT), U.S.
                          congressional candidate
                          Remarks by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum
                          Segment to be announced
                          Remarks by U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (NH), accompanied by Jack Gilchrist
                          Remarks by Governor John Kasich (OH)
                          Remarks by Governor Mary Fallin (OK)
                          Remarks by Governor Bob McDonnell (VA), accompanied by Bev Gray
                          Segment to be announced
                          Remarks by Governor Bobby Jindal (LA)
                          Remarks by Sher Valenzuela (small business owner, candidate for DE Lt. Governor)
                          Remarks by Governor Susana Martinez (NM)
                          Remarks by Governor Chris Christie (NJ)
                          Benediction and adjournment

Johnson's Letter to the Debate Commission

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate, still is plugging away trying to get himself included in the national presidential debates.

Yesterday he wrote a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates arguing that their requirement that any candidate included must be polling at 15 percent.

Below is the full text of the letter:

To the Commission on Presidential Debates,

I am writing to request that the National Commission on Presidential Debates reconsider your current – and exclusionary – requirements for participation in this Fall’s all-important Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. 

I am well aware of the history and genesis of the Commission, including the reality that it was created largely by the respective national leadership of the Democrat and Republican Parties. While I respect and understand the intention to provide a reasonable and theoretically nonpartisan structure for the presidential debate process, I would suggest that the Commission’s founding, organization and policies are heavily skewed toward limiting the debates to the two so-called major parties.

That is unfortunate, and frankly, out of touch with the electorate. You rely very heavily on polling data to determine who may participate in your debates, yet your use of criteria that are clearly designed to limit participation to the Republican and the Democrat nominee ignore the fact that many credible polls indicate that a full one-third of the electorate do not clearly identify with either of those parties. Rather, they are independents whose voting choices are not determined by party affiliation. 

That one-third of the voters, as well as independent-thinking Republicans and Democrats, deserve an opportunity to see and hear a credible “third party” candidate. I understand that there are a great many “third party” candidates, and that a line must be drawn somewhere. However, the simple reality of our Electoral College system draws that line in a very straightforward and fair way – a reality that is reflected in your existing criteria. If a candidate is not on the ballot in a sufficient number of states to be elected by the Electoral College, it is perfectly logical to not include that candidate in a national debate. If, on other hand, a candidate IS on the ballot in enough states to be elected, there is no logic by which that candidate should be excluded. 

Nowhere in the Constitution or in law is it written that our President must be a Democrat or a Republican. However, it IS written that a candidate must receive a majority of the votes – or at least 50% – cast by electors, and that any candidate who does so, and otherwise meets the Constitution’s requirements, may be President. 

As the Libertarian Party’s nominees for Vice-President and President, Judge Jim Gray and I have already qualified to be on the ballot in more than enough states to obtain a majority in the Electoral College, and we are the only candidates other than the Republican and Democrat nominees to have done so, or who are likely to do so. In fact, we fully intend and expect to be on the ballots of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

However, the Commission has chosen to impose yet another requirement for participation: 15% in selected public opinion polls. Unlike your other requirements, this polling performance criterion is entirely arbitrary and based, frankly, on nothing other than an apparent attempt to limit participation to the Democrat and the Republican. 

Requiring a certain level of approval in the polls has nothing to do with fitness to serve, experience, or credibility as a potential President. Rather, it has everything to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars available to and spent by the two major party candidates, the self-fulfilling bias of the news media against the viability of third party candidates, and an ill-founded belief that past dominance of the Republican and Democrat Parties should somehow be a template for the future. 

In all due respect, it is not the proper role of an nonelected, private and tax-exempt organization to narrow the voters’ choices to only the two major party candidates – which is the net effect of your arbitrary polling requirement. To the contrary, debates are the one element of modern campaigns and elections that should be immune to unfair advantages based upon funding and party structure. Yet, it is clear that the Commission’s criteria have both the intent and the effect of limiting voters’ choices to the candidates of the two major parties who, in fact, created the Commission in the first place. 

Eliminating the arbitrary polling requirement would align the Commission and its procedure for deciding who may participate in the critical debates with fairness and true nonpartisanship, which was the purported intent behind the Commission’s creation. As of right now, eliminating that requirement would not disrupt the process or make it unmanageable. Rather, it would simply allow the participation of a two-term governor who has more executive experience than Messrs. Obama and Romney combined, who has garnered sufficiently broad support to be on the ballot in more than enough states to achieve a majority in the Electoral College, and who, without the help of party resources and special interests, has attracted enough financial support to qualify for presidential campaign matching funds. 

I urge and request you to remove the partisanship from the debates, and allow the voters an opportunity to hear from all of the qualified candidates – not just those who happen to be a Democrat or a Republican.

Thank you.

Governor Gary Johnson
Libertarian Nominee for President of the United States

Monday, August 20, 2012

Least Surprising Political Development of the Day.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a news conference at The Range Cafe in Bernalillo today announced they are supporting Republican Heather Wilson for U.S. Senate.

I kind of thought they might go that way.

Especially after they've spent nearly half a million on TV ads blasting Democrat Martin Heinrich.

My story on independent expenditures in the Senate race is HERE.

My story on the Chamber's most recent ad is HERE. 

Wilson Calls on Akin to Get Out of Senate Race

Heather Wilson, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Mexico, is going to let the problems of her counterpart in Missouri drag her down.

In case you haven't been tuned into any political news in the past day or so, Rep. Todd Akin was talking in a TV interview Sunday, about his opposition to abortion, even in instances of rape: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said.

Both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney denounced Akin's state,emt. And so did Heather Wilson.

“As a woman and a mother, I found Rep.Akin's comments this weekend to be sickening and deeply offensive. There is no such thing as ‘legitimate rape.’ His remarks undermine his ability to command the respect necessary for leadership and he should step aside.”

UPDATE 4:17 pm : Wilson's Democratic opponent Martin Heinrich also reacted to Akin's attitude toward rape..

"Rep. Akin’s comments about rape are profoundly wrong and disgusting to every American. All rape is a violation and can never be `legitimate.' New Mexicans should be able to make their own choices about family planning. I trust that women, not politicians, will make the best medical decisions for themselves and their families."

UPDATE 5:04 pm. Another New Mexico Republican, Janice Arnold Jones, running for Congress in CD1, also has called for Akin to get out out of the race:

As an American deeply concerned about the impact of violent crime on victims, families, and communities, I am extremely offended and repulsed by Rep. Akin’s comments that were reported over the weekend. Such comments show a cavalier disregard for women that I’m quite honestly surprised and saddened to see in this day and age. Mr. Akins’ attitudes and opinions have no place in Washington, and I encourage him to withdraw from his race.

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: A Family Write-In Campaign

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Aug. 19 2012

A woman’s place is in the House. A man’s is in the Senate. That could almost be the motto of an Albuquerque couple — Bob Anderson and his wife, Jeanne Pahls, both of whom are running as write-in candidates in New Mexico this year.

Bob Anderson
Anderson, a political science professor at Central New Mexico Community College, is a declared write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by the retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Pahls, an Albuquerque teacher, is running for the open seat in the 1st Congressional District. (There’s no write-in candidate here in the 3rd Congressional District.)

Currently, there is only one married couple in Congress, U.S. Reps. Connie Mack of Florida and Mary Bono of California.

 “We hadn’t really thought of that,” said Anderson in a telephone interview last week when asked about the novelty of the situation. “Jeanne and I were just talking about how there’s no choices really in the Senate and House races here. … Heinrich and Wilson both seem to be the candidates of the military-industrial complex.”

So the couple, both of whom have a long history of involvement in civil rights, war protests and other progressive causes, both decided to run.

Anderson is running against Democrat Martin Heinrich, who is giving up his seat in Congress to run, and Republican Heather Wilson, who served in the House for 10 years. Anderson has run against Wilson before. In 1998, when Wilson first won her seat in Congress, she defeated Democrat Phil Maloof and Anderson, who ran as a Green Party candidate candidate. Anderson got 10 percent of the vote in the general election that year.

Pahls faces Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in the race for the House seat currently held by Heinrich and formerly by Wilson.

Pencil power: Both Anderson and Pahls have adopted the pencil as a symbol and the slogan “Write for New Mexico” in their campaigns to emphasize that they are write-in candidates.

In New Mexico, it’s easy to become a declared write-in candidate. No messy petitions, no primaries, no conventions. You just have to show up at the Secretary of State’s Office 21 days after the June primary and file a declaration of intent. Under current state law, the only write-in ballots that are counted are those of official declared write-in candidates. (So no, your vote for Mickey Mouse or SpongeBob Squarepants will not count.)

The hard part is winning as a write-in. The last successful write-in congressional candidate in New Mexico was the late Joe Skeen, who won his 2nd District seat in 1980. But Skeen was a special case. Democratic U.S. Rep Harold Runnels died in office after that year’s primary.

Jeanne Pahls
No Republican had filed to run against the popular Runnels, so no GOP candidate was on the ballot. Skeen became the de facto Republican candidate. And he was helped by the fact that the Democrats were split. The party nominated David King to run, which angered Runnels’ widow, Dorothy, who also ran as a write-in.

Name identification wasn’t a problem for Skeen in 1980. Not only had he served in the state Senate for a decade or so, he’d been the Republican nominee for governor twice in the 1970s, losing two very close races. (He’d also been on the GOP ticket as Pete Domenici’s running mate in the 1970 gubernatorial race.) Skeen went on to serve 11 terms in Congress.

Occupy the ballot box: Another difference between the Skeen write-in effort and the Anderson/Pahls campaigns is that Skeen had access to the regular Republican funding sources. Anderson said both he and Pahls were inspired to run by the Occupy Wall Street movement and are emphasizing their independence from corporations and financial institutions in their campaigns.

He said on his website, “We will not have large corporate donors, but that is OK. Voters are interested in hearing about truth in politics. This is a time of crisis, voters are turning away from worn- out ideas and politicians.”

Of course, whether enough voters are willing to turn away from those politicians and take up a pencil for Anderson and Pahls remains to be seen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

R.I.P. Hoyt Clifton

Hoyt Clifton in 2002
Hoyt Clifton, who worked for six secretaries of state in the state Election Bureau died in Texas Tuesday at the age of 82.

"He was totally fair, totally honest, totally non-partisan, just a very decent man," said Denise Lamb, who worked with Clifton for nine years, and who took his place as state elections director after  Clifton retired in 1994. "Those were big boots to fill," said Lamb, who called Clifton her mentor

"I don't think we'll ever see another elections director serve under six secretaries of state, consider today's political climate," Lamb said.

Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron also was saddened by Clifton's death. "I brought him out of retirement (in 1999)," she said. Clifton worked as a consultant for Vigil-Giron for most of her last eight years in office, she said.

"He wrote that election code," she said. "Nobody knew election law like Hoyt."

Clifton, a native of Quay County, will be buried Monday in Melrose, N.M. beside his late wife.

See Friday's New Mexican for more information.

Musical Culture Wars

Here's one I'm going to cross post on my politics blog and my music blog.

This is a new song from Devo, the pride of Akron, Ohio, inspired by the plight of Mitt Romney's dog.

Meanwhile, from the right, almost all the songs from Hank Williams, Jr.'s new album, Old School, New Rules sound like Sean Hannity could have written the lyrics. Here's one that features samples of Hank's dad.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Will Barrie Be on Senate Ballot?

The state Supreme Court will decided whether independent U.S. Senate candidate Jon Barrie will appear on November's general election ballot.

The Secretary of State's office determined last week that   Barrie didn't have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to earn a place on the ballot.

However Barrie argues that there were many instances where signatures were ruked invalid because of typos by Secretary of State’s Office staff who input the names of the signers into a computer to compare them with the state’s voter database.

However, a potentially more serious problem for Barrie is that he's running on the Independent American Party ticket but wasn’t a member of the party at the time the governor issued the election proclamation in January. But he couldn’t have been a member of the party at that time because the party wasn’t officially recognized in New Mexico until April. Barrie claims this requirement is unconstitutional.

You can read my full story HERE. Below is Barrie's petition.

Barrie v Duran Petition for Mandamus - Filed

Monday, August 13, 2012

Roundhouse Roundup: Susana Unscathed

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Aug. 12, 2012

Two arrests over a fraudulent audit at a state agency, including the No. 2 man in the office. The next day, the top dog at the agency is put on leave with pay while the investigation continues.

You might expect a state government scandal like this would evoke passionate, if predictable, outrage against a sitting governor.

Gov. Susana Martinez
Gov. Martinez
But so far, Gov. Susana Martinez has been relatively untouched by the New Mexico Finance Authority’s fake audit scandal. There’s hardly even any feigned outrage, the most common currency in modern political rhetoric. Even the usual denouncers have held back on denouncing, at least as I write this.

One big reason for the silence is the fact that there’s no evidence Martinez herself is involved in the phony document-making that apparently took place at the Finance Authority. Another is that the agency itself isn’t under the governor’s direct control — though her appointees, including four Cabinet secretaries, make up a majority of its governing board. Plus, Martinez’s Securities Division conducted the investigation and made the arrests.

But basically, even though there have been criminal charges filed against former Finance Authority comptroller Greg Campbell and current chief operating officer John Duff, the fake audit affair isn’t exactly juicy in a political sense. There’s been no evidence reported of anybody involved embezzling money from the Finance Authority. There’s no hint of political contributions or pay-to-play. And there’s no sex.

Responding to a question about the scandal Thursday, Martinez, through a spokesman, said, “I’m very pleased that our Securities Division is moving so quickly in this investigation. Everyone is entitled to their day in court, but those who have broken the law must be held accountable and we must send a clear message that violating the public’s trust will not be tolerated.”

Rick May
I also asked about the authority’s chief of staff, Rick May, who on Thursday was suspended with pay. May came to the job last September after serving eight months as Martinez’s secretary of Finance and Administration.

“Regarding May, the governor supports the actions taken by the NMFA board today as they continue in their effort to ensure that an independent and thorough investigation and audit is conducted,” spokesman Scott Darnell said. “She has been clear that she wants no stone left unturned in the effort to determine how the fake audit was produced and what the accurate financial position of NMFA is.”

Gone was the flowing praise Martinez had a little less than a year ago, when she announced that May was leaving his Cabinet job. “Secretary May is tremendously talented, and New Mexicans should join with me in thanking him for his service at the Department of Finance and Administration,” Martinez said in a news release last August.

“I’m grateful that he is eager to tackle yet another challenge on behalf of our taxpayers.”

Asked Thursday whether the administration shared any responsibility in the scandal, Darnell didn’t answer directly. “As she has said, the governor is hopeful that the investigation and audit into NMFA will help to identify the key deficiencies in the structure, organization and operations at NMFA, wherever they may be,” he said.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Postcards from Dianna

SOS Dianna Duran
SOS Duran with thousands of returned
postcards  recently mailed to "inactive" voters
Secretary of State Dianna Duran has been taking heat from Democrats over her recent effort to purge inactive voters and voters who moved away.

At the root of the controversy are nearly 178,000 postcards that Duran’s office sent out early this month to voters around the state who had been flagged by county clerks as “inactive” after election-related mail was returned as undeliverable.

Duran in an interview yesterday said the effort was instigated by the U.S. Justice Department, (See letter below). So if this is a conspiracy to disenfranchise voters, the Obama Justice Department is in on it.

She stressed that currently classified "inactive" voters are still allowed to vote -- in fact, voting should take them off the inactive list -- and that the Secretary of State's office by law cannot remove any voter from the rolls.

See my story in today's New Mexican HERE.
DOJ Letter 09 14 11

Michelle Malkin to Speak to Local GOP

Michelle Malkin, a nationally known conservative syndicated columnist, author, blogger  and televidsion pundit, will be the keynote speaker at a gala sponsored by the Santa Fe Federated Republican Women Saturday Aug. 11 at Buffalo Thunder Resort in Pojoaque.

Malkin has written several books, including her recent Culture of Corruption. She is a frequent guest on Fox News talk shows.

Several state Republican leaders are scheduled to speak at the "Ladies of Liberty Gala,"  including Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who will receive the Ladies of Liberty Award.

For more information email .

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Two Arrested in Audit Scandal

The state Regulations & Licensing Department this morning announced the arrest of  the former controller and the current chief operating officer for the New Mexico Finance Authority in connection with the forged audit scandal.

John Duff's booking shot

I haven't seen the actual criminal complaint yet, but according to the news release, Gregory M. Campbell, the former controller for NMFA, has been charged with eight counts of securities fraud, four counts of forgery and one count each of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Campbell's name has been out there for awhile. But also arrested this morning was John Duff, the current chief operating officer for NMFA, who was the immediate supervisor of Campbell.

Duff is charged as an accessory on eight counts of securities fraud and racketeering. Duff, also is charged with conspiring to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity by fraudulently misrepresenting the financial statements of the NMFA to ratings agencies, investors, bond buyers, and the State of New Mexico, according to the criminal complaint.

“These two corporate officials had strong accounting backgrounds yet they cooked the books to make their financial statements looks stronger than they actually were,"   Daniel S. Tanaka, Director of the Securities Division said in the news release. "Accurate disclosure of the true financial condition of a company is crucial to ensure that all investors have the information they are entitled to by law,” said Tanaka.

The arrests come one week after investigators from the state Securities Division seized documents, computers, compact discs and other items from the Finance Authority's office in downtown Santa Fe.
Greg Campbell

Campbell and Duff were booked into Santa Fe County Jail and are subject to a $20,000 cash or surety bond. A date for an arraignment at the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe has not yet been set.

The news release, referring to the criminal complaint, says that  Campbell admitted to forging the 2011 audit report. “Campbell stated he obtained the audit reports from the fiscal year 2010 audit and ‘copied and pasted’ the letterhead and signatures onto a printed copy of the PDF file. Campbell stated he then copied the entire report and scanned it into a PDF file in order to disseminate copies of the financial statements and forged reports to external and internal recipients” as the 2011 audit report, the complaint alleges.

The independent auditors, hired by NMFA to perform that function, told investigators that they never completed an audit of the 2011 financial statements and there was no exit conference held to go over the audit results.

The criminal complaint also alleges that Campbell, with the explicit knowledge and permission of Duff, misrepresented approximately $40 million in the financial statements for NMFA for 2010 and 2011. Instead of reporting a loss of $40 million in revenues, they are accused of concealing that loss by fraudulently reporting it under grant expenses.

According to the complaint, "...Campbell represented that the decision to reclassify the reduction in appropriations revenue as 'grant expense' was in fact a misrepresentation of the fiscal year 2011 financial statements as it did not reflect the true financial condition of the NMFA. Campbell accepted the characterization that the action to fraudulently misrepresent the financial statements was in fact 'cooking the books' of the NMFA."

J. Dee Dennis Jr., Superintendent of the State Regulation and Licensing Department. said in the news release, “The action of these two individuals has risked the credit rating of New Mexico. We want to send a clear and strong message to the Wall Street, rating agencies, bond purchasers and investors that we will get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible to once again restore their confidence in our state."

Tanaka added, "Today we took swift and appropriate action, making significant progress towards the ultimate resolution of this case. These arrests send a clear signal to Wall Street, the investing public, and the citizens of New Mexico that we will not tolerate fraud in our financial institutions. ...The investigation will bring to light the extent of the wrongdoing and at the end of the day we will make our findings known and will work with all stake holders to restore confidence in the NMFA. The investigation continues. ”

Here are the criminal complaints:

NMFA criminal complaint

Monday, August 6, 2012

Susana Gets Speaker Slot at GOP Convention

Gov. Susana Martinez will speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. this month, Reince Preibus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, announcedc today.

Gov. Susana Martinez
She'll probably get a fancier podium in Tampa
Martinez was among several high-profile Republicans named by Preibus who will address the GOP convention, where Mitt Romney is expected to be nominated for president.

Other speakers include U.S. Sen. Jon McCain, who was the previous Republican nominee in 2008, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Some commentators have noted today that the selection of Martinez, Rice and Haley is a sign that despite speculation and rumor, none of them will be chosen as Romney's running mate. Several GOP leaders who are believed to be on Romney's short list for the number two spot — Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — were conspicuously absent from the list of speakers.

Martinez, who became governor only last year, has consistently maintained that she is not interested in running for vice president this year, even though many national pundits have maintained that as a female Hispanic she might be helpful to the ticket. A spokesman for Martinez said last week that the Romney team was not vetting Martinez for the position.

The Republican National Convention begins on Aug. 27.

UPDATE: 10:32 am I just noticed this RNC press release quoting our governor:

"The Republican National Convention will give Mitt Romney momentum for securing a critical victory for our country this fall. Americans want to work. They want to build their businesses, compete and succeed in order to create more jobs and a secure future for their families. Mitt Romney knows that is the formula for our economic growth - not more government roadblocks. We will share this message in Tampa in a few weeks, and the American voters will make their voices heard on this at the polls in November."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

ROUNDHOUSE ROUNDUP: When NM Politics Had Sparkle

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Aug. 5, 2012

After the bizarre situation earlier this year, in which 10 legislative candidates from both major parties — including veteran lawmakers like Senate President Pro-tem Tim Jennings — had their nominating petitions challenged in court mostly over technical violations, at least one state senator is talking about doing away with the petition system altogether and going back to the old system of candidates having to pay a filing fee.

That’s what Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, recently told reporter Milan Simonich of the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership. Morales told Simonich that he will introduce a bill next year to do away with the nominating petitions, a system he called “flawed and outdated.”

Sparkle with sparkler
This brings back memories of 1972, the first election in which I was eligible to vote. That year a federal court, backed up by an opinion by the state attorney general, struck down a New Mexico law that required congressional and statewide candidates to put up a $2,500 filing fee. This angered former New Mexico Attorney General Fred Standley. This meant that any ham-and-egger off the street could run for office!

So Standley and a group of friends, dubbed by then-Gov. David Cargo as “The Bull Ring Gang,” came up with a colorful idea to draw attention to the situation. They convinced a 28-year-old Bull Ring cocktail waitress and aspiring actress named Sparkle Plenty to file for Congress. (At that time Santa Fe was part of the 1st Congressional District, represented by Republican Manuel Lujan Jr.)

Miss Plenty was born Cheryl Lana Boone, but the year before, she’d legally changed her name to “Sparkle Plenty.” The name change itself was on the front page of The New Mexican. She was one of nine candidates to file for the Democratic congressional primary. If Standley and his pals thought she might get some attention, they were right. Besides her work at the political watering hole, her résumé listed her experience as law student, legal secretary, airline stewardess and Playboy bunny.

Some of her coverage was blatantly sexist. One report in this very paper described her as “leggy,” while many stories about Plenty dutifully referred to her campaigning in a leather mini-skirt.

But her mentor, Standley, soon lost interest in the Sparkle bandwagon. Not long after filing day, the state Supreme Court, responding to a legal challenge by Standley, reinstated the filing-fee requirement. “Veteran political observers feel that the Standley crowd should be sued for breach of promise” for pulling the rug out from under Plenty, said New Mexican columnist Will Hoffman.

“Our purpose was accomplished,” Standley told Hoffman. “We’ve demonstrated that this is the most ludicrous situation we ever got into. She accomplished what she wanted — publicity.” (Indeed, her campaign got the attention of national publications, including The New York Times.)

The filing fee requirement immediately thinned the herd running for Congress. Four of the nine candidates dropped out. But not Sparkle Plenty. Even though the Bull Ring Gang wasn’t taking her candidacy seriously, Sparkle herself was. “I’m not in this for the publicity,” she said. “Even if I should get a movie contract, I would use the money to start ecological foundations.”
The first Sparkle Plenty was from
the Dick Tracy comic strip

She came up with the filing fee, thanks to a contributor, Larry Hunt of Cerrillos, described by this paper as “a self-styled multi-thousandaire and a former sea captain.” She assembled what the paper called “a campaign staff of earnest but bumbling amateurs.” And she won the endorsements of a couple of respectable environmental groups.

But she lost the primary, coming in fifth out of five in the contest won by Santa Fe lawyer Gene Gallegos, whom nobody described as “leggy,” and who went on to be defeated by Lujan in the general election.

Before the end of the ’70s, the filing fee again was declared unconstitutional, and it was replaced by the current screwy petition system. Who knows. Perhaps Morales’ bill will spark another Sparkle in some future election.

Sparkle Plenty is the subject of an upcoming Centennial Journeys radio spot produced by The New Mexico Centennial Steering Committee. Keep an eye out for it HERE..

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eeeek! A Mouse!

"I hate those Meeses to pieces!"

Unwanted rodents can strike anywhere. Including the Governor's Mansion.

I wrote a little story in today's paper about a recent problem discovered at 1 Mansion Drive. You can find it HERE.

In the story I quote the governor's spokesman Scott Darnell saying that an exterminator regularly visits the mansion.

That's one way to deal with it.

Here's another:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

More "Susana for Veep" Navel Gazing

Gov. Susana MartinezThe Politico once again has raised the possibility of Mitt Romney choosing Gov. Susana Martinez as his running mate on the GOP presidential ticket.

Yes, it is slow season on the political front.

Here's what they said:

Martinez, the first female governor of New Mexico and the first female Hispanic governor in the country, was elected two years ago and immediately deemed a rising star in the Republican Party. She’s been mentioned in some circles as a potential running mate for Romney and could help him win over Hispanic voters in some of the most important battleground states — like Florida and Nevada — this fall.
But Martinez has been low on most pundits’ lists, in large part because Martinez doesn’t even seem to want the post: asked this spring whether she’d be willing to join the GOP ticket, Martinez said she “just couldn’t do it” because of family concerns. It’s an answer she’s consistently given since then. Many Republicans are also wary of a largely unknown governor on the ticket after the Palin experience four years ago.

Yawn. I don't see anything new here.

For the record, earlier this week I asked Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell whether anyone from the Romney campaign had begun the vetting process on the governor. He said no, just as Martinez herself told me the week before.

Only a few more weeks at the most of Romney veep speculation.

UPDATE 5:29 pm I have corrected an embarrassing typo in the headline. My apologies to those in the U.S. Navy and thank you for your service