They’re back: Democrats plagued by cor­rup­tion prob­lems back in power

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA - By Ed Forde Ed Forde lives in Valdez.

Now that the Democrats are back in to­tal power of the gov­er­nor­ship and both state leg­is­la­tures, it would be a good time to re­visit what hap­pened the last time they had power un­der former Gov. Bill Richard­son:

• In 2007, New Mex­ico Trea­surer Robert Vigil (D) was con­victed as a re­sult of a two-year FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion. He was sen­tenced to 26 months in prison. That same year, former State Trea­surer Michael Mon­toya (D) pleaded guilty to state charges of ex­tor­tion and rack­e­teer­ing and served four and a half years in prison.

• In 2008, Manny Aragon, Demo­crat leader of the State Se­nate, pleaded guilty to fraud and con­spir­acy charges for his role in a scheme to de­fraud the state out of nearly $4.4 mil­lion in build­ing the Ber­nalillo County Metropoli­tan Court­house in Al­bu­querque. Aragon was fined $750,000 and or­dered to pay $649,000 in resti­tu­tion. Dur­ing his trial, pros­e­cu­tors said the money Aragon pock­eted came from state cap­i­tal out­lay dol­lars. Aragon served four and a half years at the Fed­eral Cor­rec­tion Com­plex in Florence, Colorado. He still re­ceives a state pen­sion of

$27,000 per year.

• In 2013, three as­so­ciates of former Sec­re­tary of State Re­becca Vigil (D) were con­victed on charges re­lated to

$2.5 mil­lion in stolen voter ed­u­ca­tion funds that were as­signed to the state by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. She was not in­dicted be­cause At­tor­ney Gen­eral Gary King (D) and the courts de­layed her hear­ing un­til the time for charges ex­pired. U. S. At­tor­ney Tara Nara said in fed­eral court that Vigil was in­volved in the scheme.

And re­cently, we have long­time Demo­crat Sen­a­tor Phil Griego now serv­ing prison time for cor­rup­tion, bribery and fraud.

But the big­gest scan­dal of the last Demo­crat ad­min­is­tra­tion was Gov. Bill Richard­son’s pay-to-play cor­rup­tion. Richard­son gave a state gov­ern­ment con­tract to a firm in ex­change for a $100,000 do­na­tion to his own po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee, Mov­ing For­ward Amer­ica.

Brian Colon (D), who vot­ers just elected State Au­di­tor last month, was the chair of this cor­rupt po­lit­i­cal fundrais­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. Be­cause of this scan­dal, Richard­son had to with­draw his nom­i­na­tion as Com­merce Sec­re­tary un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Per­haps the worse fall­out from the Richard­son ad­min­is­tra­tion was the $400 mil­lion state debt and the mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar pay­ments owed from the Rail Run­ner project. The state bor­rowed money and is­sued bonds that it could not pay, re­sult­ing in fi­nan­cial deriva­tives and a large bal­loon debt that the Martinez ad­min­is­tra­tion was fi­nally able to re­solve last year. In fact, Gov­er­nor Martinez in­her­ited mas­sive fi­nan­cial and le­gal prob­lems from the Democrats that she worked hard to re­pair dur­ing her ten­ure.

This re­cent his­tory of Demo­crat power in New Mex­ico proves that to­tal con­trol by one po­lit­i­cal party re­moves any checks to the cor­rup­tion of power. Many of the same of­fi­cials who par­tic­i­pated in these past crimes are back in charge in Santa Fe.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.