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Flying the Grey Line

This is just classic Bill Richardson. Governor Richardson twice spends hard earned taxpayer money to put together an ethics task force to devise recommendations to keep government officials acting ethically, and then Governor Richardson ignores the intention of the law he signed (subscription):

What about the state’s restrictions on gifts to public officials— which Richardson signed into law earlier this year with considerable fanfare?

Would it prevent the law firm from hauling the governor to Mexico for free or at a reduced price— such as the cost of a first-class airline ticket as allowed under the old federal rule?

Apparently not, because the Branch firm would not appear to be a “restricted donor” covered by the new gift ban, which limits gifts to $250.

One definition of a restricted donor is someone seeking to do business with a state agency that employs the public official receiving the gift.

If the state gift ban applied, the governor arguably would have had to pay the same full $20,000 or so that he would have had to pay as a federal candidate on campaign business.

While not officially confirming who took the governor to Acapulco, Reynolds said “no one considered a restricted donor has provided any kind of transportation for the governor without being properly reimbursed.”

The Attorney General’s Office said the Branch firm wouldn’t fit the definition of a restricted donor based on information provided by the Journal.

The firm does some business with the state, but lawyer Turner Branch said last week his firm has no contracts with the Governor’s Office.

You’re kidding me, right? They do “state business”, but have “no contracts with the Governor’s Office.” Hmm, I wonder if any of the state business contracts, which the Branch Law firm is enjoying, come under the supervision of a gubernatorial appointee, who serves at the pleasure of the Governor?