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Rewarding Failure Policy Stinks

Performance by outgoing Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron demonstrates why we can’t leave the secretary of state office in the hands of the dominant party (subscription):

More than 500 New Mexico candidates and office holders are supposed to file state campaign finance reports online for the first time Monday.

It’s a new computerized system intended to make it easier for the public to see where politicians get their money and how they spend it.

But, despite three years to prepare for this day, the secretary of state’s Web site won’t be equipped to handle such searches for months, say representatives of the secretary’s office and the company contracted to do the work.

That’s right Ms. Vigil-Giron has had three years to get this system up and running without success. As our Secretary of State describes it, the problem is two-fold 1) the contractor has failed to meet the deadlines; and 2) there just wasn’t enough money allocated. Of course, number two rings a little false when you realize that Vigil-Giron spent $2 million in 2004 on self-promoting television ads.

So, what has Ms. Vigil-Giron done about the contractor’s failure to deliver? Has she demanded a refund? No. Has she sent a letter to the contractor demanding that they stop listing New Mexico as one of the “jurisdictions using SOSKB?” No. Has she gone to the Attorney General and asked Patricia Madrid to file suit against this company to get back our taxpayer dollars? No. So, what has she done?

Using federal dollars earmarked for voter education, Vigil-Giron’s office only last month signed a new $350,000 contract for completion of the system with the same North Carolina company she hired to do the job in 2003.

You read that correctly. Vigil-Giron’s office has given the company another contract for $230,000 more than the first contract. Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts? Then again, maybe she is rewarding the company for failing to deliver a fully operational system. See, that actually makes sense. The company’s failure to deliver has allowed Governor Richardson’s representative the opportunity to say:

“It’s a shame there are problems,” Amanda Cooper, Richardson’s campaign manager, said of the state’s electronic filing program. “We want to file our campaign finance records in a way that people can search them.”

Oh yeah, sure you do. Like the ethics task force, this is another convenient delay in campaign contribution reform for the Richardson administration and other elected officials. It’s time for a change.