Looks like I may have spoken too soon. Patricia Madrid’s behavior may actually be against the law. I just checked an email from a guy who is on a mission to have APS officials commit to the same accountability standards being touted for its students.
In his email he points out there is a law against acting unethically. Let’s look at how Patricia Madrid measures up to three of the four sections of this law:
A. A legislator, public officer or employee shall treat his government position as a public trust. He shall use the powers and resources of public office only to advance the public interest and not to obtain personal benefits or pursue private interests incompatible with the public interest.
Madrid’s recent mailing campaigns using public resources while running for office may be argued to have a public benefit; however, the timing of these mailings is such that they definitely also have a personal benefit. Since the mailings are legal “only to advance the public interest,” this is a clear violation of the law.
B. A legislator, public officer or employee shall conduct himself in a manner that justifies the confidence placed in him by the people, at all times maintaining the integrity and discharging ethically the high responsibilities of public service.
Patricia Madrid’s attempt to mislead the public by printing the disclaimer “Taxpayer money was not used for the printing or distribution of this flier ” is a clear violation of this section of the law. As Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Steve Terrell points out:
Like the others, the anti-scam flier was paid for with money from a settlement in a class action lawsuit against Microsoft.
Once again, the AG’s office argues that the settlement money isn’t “taxpayer” money because it didn’t come directly from taxes – though others argued it’s public money that was won by tax-paid lawyers for the benefit of the citizens of the state.
With that statement, Attorney General’s office is purposely misleading the public by leading them to assume that the mailing was paid by private dollars. When in fact, the money used was from government resources – taxpayer money from the general fund. At the very least Patricia Madrid should have printed a disclaimer that read: “Money from a class action lawsuit settlement against Microsoft held in trust for the citizens of New Mexico was used for the printing and distribution of this flyer.” Which leads us to the next section of the law…
C. Full disclosure of real or potential conflicts of interest shall be a guiding principle for determining appropriate conduct. At all times reasonable efforts shall be made to avoid undue influence and abuse of office in public service.
My suggestion for an appropriate minimum disclaimer in the paragraph preceding this section of law would need to be ammended if Patricia Madrid were to also follow the intent of “Section C” to include: “By sending out this mailing I, Patricia Madrid, acknowledge a conflict of interest in that this use of public monies to mail out this flyer so close to election day may benefit me personally in my campaign for Congress.”
Now, I’m not a lawyer, but it sure seems that there has been several clear violations of the law. The question is that since the perpetrator in this case is the “chief law enforcement officer in the state” who can we turn to in order to enforce this flagrant violation of the law?