I’ve posted on more than one occasion that I don’t support the creation of an ethics commission to advise legislators and state employees to behave ethically. I’m a firm believer that folks in our state and local governments know precisely what they are doing when they behave unethically. Rather than spend money on creating another government entity, I think we ought to vote the unethical out of office and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those that act illegally.
I thought the recent article by the Albuquerque Journal on the paid
lobbying marketing practices of soon to be retiring Senator Joe Cararro somewhat ironic (subscription):
Carraro said in his deposition that he became interested in artificial turf in 2003 as a water-saving alternative and that, over the next few years, met Wickens and became familiar with Real Turf’s product.
He said that, prior to being hired by Real Turf, he sought state money for artificial turf at the Paradise Hills ballfields. Real Turf got that job.
He said that he met Wickens in about the spring of 2004 and that Wickens frequently sought his advice on business matters over the following year.
Carraro said he eventually told Wickens he was going to have to start paying him and, in May 2005, he sent Wickens a letter that he called a contract proposal.
Carraro said his company, Public Perceptions, would provide marketing and business consulting services in exchange for the $5,000-a-month fee.
The letter also said there was “not a direct relationship” between Carraro’s position as a senator and services Public Perceptions would provide.
Carraro also wrote that Public Perceptions wouldn’t be involved with any government entity on Real Turf’s behalf.
“There can never be a real or perceived conflict of interest regarding my positions as a state senator and president of Public Perceptions,” he said, adding:
“Specifically, it should be noted that recommendations of your product to governmental entities given prior to this contract … in no way bound you to the employment of Public Perceptions.”
In his deposition, Carraro said his work for Real Turf included meeting with Wickens and other managers, reviewing management job descriptions, providing advice on marketing, writing advertisements and working on printed publications.
“I … analyzed their business, figured out ways for them to make more money,” he said.
Carraro said he stopped working for Real Turf because the company quit paying him. He also said he had become frustrated with Wickens’ failure to implement many of his suggestions.
It sure would seem to that Senator Joe Cararro took great pains to leave a paper trail that would give the appearance that everything was on the up and up. Of course, it’s not surprising that a State Senator who has spent twenty years in the system knows how to work the system. So, what makes Senator Cararro’s antics ironic?
“We’ve all got our special interests we have to represent,” Carraro says. “My special interest is the little guy [Particularly, the little guy who is willing to spend $5,000 a month on consulting services] . But this is a big guy, big business, big interest state, and they come down here and make us vote the way they do. The poor of this state are going to stay poor because they don’t have lobbyists looking out for them.”
Carraro, who ran unsuccessfully last June in the Republican primary for US Senate, cites economist Milton Friedman and activist Cesar Chavez while comparing state politics to Orwell’s Animal Farm: “We’re all equal, but some of us are more equal than others.”
It would be an impressive oration if anyone was actually listening. But most of the senators have long since tuned Carraro out. Some fiddle with their laptops. Others talk on cell phones. Stuart Ingle, R-Roosevelt, chats with a colleague a few feet away from where Carraro is standing with the microphone. Mary Jane Garcia, D-Doña Ana, appears to be eating sunflower seeds. John Pinto, D-McKinley, appears to be fading in and out of consciousness.
Considering that legislators get to know each other pretty well, it’s probably not surprising that Senator Carraro’s colleagues opted to tune him out when he was putting on airs maligning registered lobbyist while taking money for…. uh, “marketing” services.