State Fair’s Casino Deal Raises Pay-to-Play Concerns (VIDEO)

Neighborhood and community groups are still in a state of shock over last week’s unscheduled vote by the State Fair Commission to approve a 25-year lease arrangement calling for construction of a new $20 million casino smack in the middle of Albuquerque. But it’s what Governor Susana Martinez wanted and so that’s that.

Somehow it seems that a slightly modified equation has simply produced an all-too-familiar result:

New Governor+Old Campaign Donor = Pay-to-Play 2.0

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here! What’s really important is, “What does Sarah Kennedy have to say about all this, huh?” Watch and learn:

Which Path, Governor?

By Tracy Dingmann

On Monday, Jan. 31, Governor Susana Martinez issued an executive order requiring state police officers to inquire into criminal suspect’s immigration status and “report relevant information to federal immigration enforcement authorities.”

It was the latest in a troubling stream of executive orders to come from Governor Martinez’s office since literally the moment she took office.

Like the other executive orders emanating from her office, it sought to aggressively reverse key decisions made by her predecessor, Gov. Bill Richardson. And like the rest of her executive orders, it appears to be extremely vulnerable to legal challenges on purely constitutional grounds.

Add Monday’s executive order to the rest of the group and I think it’s time for the people of New Mexico to ask sincerely – which path are you taking us down, Governor?

Continue reading

Pay to Play and Ethics Reform

Is New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson just a high-profile scapegoat for the glaring need for ethics reform in New Mexico?

Take a look at this piece by Marjorie Childress at the New Mexico Independent, in which several well-respected political observers assert that “play for play” politics are rampant, especially in New Mexico, one of five states with no contribution limits. (Yup, Illinois is one of them.)

“There’s a lot of pressure that stems from the design of our government itself for people to give,” says UNM political scientist Lonna Atkeson. “Even if the politician doesn’t demand it, maybe people think it’s expected that they’ll contribute. What they receive may not be what they want. So are they actually buying access or something else? It can create the appearance of corruption even when it doesn’t exist.”

Adds New Mexico Common Cause executive director Steve Allen:

“The way it works is very subtle and, frankly, not illegal.”

The best way for New Mexicans to keep this from happening again is to make pay for play explicitly against the law, says Allen. Continue reading