Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Night Fights

The political fights are starting to get interesting around here.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the state Republican Party emailed a press release taking a small swipe at Common Cause New Mexico -- which had called for an investigation of Gov. Susana Martinez's recent radio ads -- and a big swipe at Sen. Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, who has been critical all week of Martinez using videos of certain legislative committees to make political points.

" ... the Republican Party of New Mexico (RPNM) today asked Common Cause whether they see any ethical problems with a special interest group that supports driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants having a state Senator on its payroll.

"At issue is the fact that state Sen. Eric Griego is the paid executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which lobbies the legislature on a number of liberal issues.

"Griego’s group is also the member of an organization called `Better Choices New Mexico' that recently sent mailers encouraging people to `Call Gov. Martinez' in support of tax increase measures. As an aside, Griego is the same politician who complained just this week about Gov. Martinez encouraging citizens to call state legislators on the issues being debated in the Roundhouse.

Griego, in a written response, fired back:

“I along with several other public officials and community groups have questioned whether it is legal or ethical for the Governor to use campaign funds and state employees and official state websites to lobby for her conservative political agenda.”

“It is interesting the state Republican party has questioned my employment as a non-profit manager of a children’s advocacy group while serving in the legislature, but has not raised the same concern for the numerous Republican legislators who work in real estate, insurance and other private industry while advocating for a corporate agenda of deregulation, tax subsidies for businesses, and cutting programs for children and families.

" ... as unpaid citizen legislators, most members of the House and Senate have regular jobs. We are educators, realtors, lawyers, and miscellaneous other professionals. Often, legislators sponsor legislation that may directly affect their profession or industry. In my case, I fight for vulnerable children and working families, for which I make no apologies.”
Griego said that he's on administrative leave from Voices for Children during the session.

Steve Allen, executive director of  Common Cause New Mexico, in a statement, stood by his belief that Martinez's use of campaign funds to pay for radio ads was against campaign laws.

"CCNM is unaware of any specific state law that would prohibit any of the conduct of Sen. Griego ... If the Republican Party of New Mexico is aware of a potential statutory violation, CCNM would be open to reviewing the matter."

Yes, I do believe that whatever "honeymoon" there was in this session is pretty much over.

Have a great weekend.