I know it might seem I’m out to get Jim Baca, candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands, but that’s not the case. Instead, I’m just amazed by the ridiculousness of the statements that come out of his mouth (or keyboard as the case may be). For instance:
“It appears to me that a ‘selling of the land office’ is occurring to those who have leases with it,” Baca said in an e-mail. “The amount of money for a candidate from those who do business with the office that he governs is truly unprecedented. This shows that he will truly have a difficult time remaining independent. This really makes it clear that the land commissioner races should be publicly financed.”
How can a guy – who until recently was part of the Bill Richardson machine – make a statement like that with a straight face? Whatever Pat Lyons, current Commissioner of Public Lands, has raised is nothing compared to the millions raised by Governor Bill Richardson or Attorney General Patricia Madrid. In both cases, these folks have not only accepted money from those who do business with the office that they govern, but have walked a very thin line boarding on quid pro quo.
For example, let’s look at recent news about Attorney General Patricia Madrid’s approach to fundraising:
A Florida-based private-prison company that has doled out thousands of dollars to New Mexico politicians made two $5,000 contributions to Attorney General Patricia Madrid’s congressional campaign less than three weeks after Madrid’s office published a legal opinion that directly benefited the firm.
This legal opinion was written at the request of three Democratic legislators who were concerned about the method by which the GEO Group was attempting to skirt state procurement codes by contracting directly with a municipal entity – to the detriment of New Mexico taxpayers.
Of course, Governor Richardson has attempted to hide his role in this decision by having the GEO Group contribute to his campaign efforts via the Richardson-chaired Democratic Governors Association.
Now, let’s compare these results with those of Pat Lyons:
Commissioner of Public Lands Patrick H. Lyons announced the Land Office broke its all-time record for oil and gas lease sale earnings during a fiscal year, taking in $57.5 million for FY-2006.
June’s lease sale earnings totaled $5,829,151, which bumped fiscal year earnings to $57,543,034. The previous record of $57,398,876 was set in 1981.
Oh, the horror… the outrage. How can a Commissioner of Public Land so blatantly disregard the purpose of his office:
In 1848, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States acquired the territory encompassing what is now New Mexico.
Two years later, in 1850, the United State Congress passed the Organic Act, which created the Territory of New Mexico and set aside sections 16 and 36 in every township to support the schools of the territory.
Oops, never mind. It turns out the purpose of the Land Office is to raise money. Hmm, I guess there is no conflict here after all. But Mr. Baca might want to talk to his former employer and colleagues about their actions.