Concerning The Appointment of Felons To High Positions

Does 2 per cent bad apples represent the population?

May 30, 2003 in New Mexico Politics | Comments (0)

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The Albuquerque Journal reviewed some of Gov. Bill Richardson’s political appointments that went bad — those who had to resign because of records that were somehow overlooked in the vetting procedure.

There was a State Fair deputy manager with an embezzlement conviction who was accused of repeating the offense. There was a Parole Board executive director with a voting fraud conviction.

There was the Motor Vehicle Division director with a DWI arrest record. There was the director of state boards and commissions with a bigamy problem. There was the Gaming Control Board liaison with undisclosed ties to a slot machine company accused of illegal activities.

And although the Journal did not mention it, the governor’s appointee to a Workers’ Comp board and city-county oversight group served time for federal banking and tax violations. These matters have been disclosed over the last five months by journalists, not the governor’s investigators.

Richardson’s chief of staff, Dave Contarino, defended the review process that let some men with records under the wire. Only six of about 300 political appointees have had to resign. In Contarino’s words, “We have a 98 percent success rate.”
I hate to be negative, but the problem is the 2 per cent, and I have a suggestion:

Lincoln County sheriff Tom Sullivan and an associate want to reopen the case of the escape of Billy the Kid, who is reputed to have killed 21 men — one for each year of his short violent life. The sheriff wants State Police assistance in the investigation. And Richardson apparently will lend the support.

As Richardson spokesman Billy (no relation) Sparks put it, “The governor is very interested in getting to the bottom of the Billy the Kid legend.”

The respected historian Robert Utley said the thing sounds like a publicity stunt. Richardson has never been known to duck publicity, any more than the Kid was known to duck a gun fight.

But before the governor sends the State Police off on the trail of Billy the Kid, maybe, just maybe, he should involve the State Police investigators a little more in his own appointment process. Not that there’s anything wrong with Billy the Kid. You just don’t want him to be appointed secretary of Corrections.