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What’s Your Vigil Number?

There is a fun little tool called the Oracle of Bacon from the University of Virginia that measures how many degrees separate a particular actor from Kevin Bacon. (Full disclosure: my Bacon number is 3.) In light of yesterday’s post, I started to wonder about the Vigil number for some of our more notable actors on the political scene.

Let me set the stage with a recap of current events.

An Albuquerque businessman and two associates were indicted [September 1, 2005] on multiple counts of securities fraud and related charges, according to the New Mexico Securities Division.

The indictments allege that Angelo Garcia, 57, defrauded several victims of a total of more than $900,000 between October 2000 and January 2005. The victims, all senior citizens, lost from $65,000 to $275,000 each, according to Patrick McNertney, assistant director of enforcement for the Securities Division.

We’re not talking about very nice men, and you don’t have to take my word for it:

Attorney General Patricia Madrid said, “This case is particularly egregious because the defendants were specifically targeting senior citizens. All of the victims were older than 75, with the oldest being 97. With these three indictments, we are reinforcing our commitment to prosecute financial fraud and to protect the elderly in New Mexico.”

Unfortunately, what she forgets to mention is that this was allowed to happen because she didn’t do her job back in the fall of 2001 when Governor Gary Johnson asked her to investigate and prosecute the illegal activity of the State Treasurer. As those who have read the affidavit know, if Patricia Madrid had done her job, Angelo and Joseph Garcia would have been in jail instead of preying on the elderly. Attorney General Patricia Madrid your Vigil number is 1.

How about Governor Bill Richardson? He seems to be taking this very seriously:

Richardson said the state will conduct “a top to bottom review of all investment practices and a review of all investment contracts and has directed state agencies to conduct an internal assessment of all investment activities at all levels of state government.”

Where have I read something very similar to this before?

I [Bill Richardson] believe government must be managed in a fiscally responsible manner, and that every government program, indeed, every government employee, must be held accountable to you the taxpayers. My administration will continue to challenge and question the way we do business to make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely. That’s why I initiated a Performance Review to look at state services and operations in order to save money and improve services.

Only our Governor could get away with proposing the exact same solution that previously failed to turn up the fraud. Heck, he has a cabinet secretary that stated back in 2002 that illegal activity was occurring at the State Treasurer’s office. Just read this (slightly reformatted) excerpt found on Julia Goldberg’s blog:

Q: Three days after 9.11, State Treasurer Michael Montoya made a controversial play with state funds. How much money was involved and what did he do? Do you support that move?

A: He put $400 million from the overnight repurchase agreement into a mutual fund. No. That was an illegal investment. He used a broker, which was unnecessary, and the broker wasn’t under contract with the state. When you’re dealing with state money, legality, safety, liquidity, and return are all to be considered, in that order. That did not happen.

Kind of makes you wonder why Governor Richardson didn’t find it a priority to protect New Mexicans from the corruption that was obviously plaguing the State Treasurer’s office at the time he was elected to office. The audits do land on his desk, don’t they? Governor Bill Richardson your Vigil number is a 2.

Now both of the previously mentioned elected officials are guilty of not acting. This next official is much worse. First, a little more narration from that Security Divisions news release:

The indictment alleges that the Garcia brothers and Montoya promised victims they would earn from 7 to 10 percent interest annually investing in a “low income housing development” to be built in Santa Fe. The project was never built and the promissory notes issued to the victims were never repaid. Through his companies American Financial Group and MAV Investments, Garcia targeted senior citizens through newspaper ads and mailings.

I draw your attention to the name of Garcia’s company, American Financial Group. A quick search at reveals that contributions by Garcia’s company have only been reported by two elected state officials… Indicted State Treasurer Robert Vigil $4,400 and former Land Commissioner Art Trujillo $5,500. Also worth noting, Angelo Garcia personally gave them $10,965 and $14,600 respectively. Now that raises some questions. Art Trujillo actually got more money then Robert Vigil. But wait, this gets even more interesting…

Art Trujillo has only reported giving money at the state level to four individuals: Ernesto Chavez ($20 in 1994 – House), Phil Griego ($100 in 2004 – Senate), Martin Chavez ($65 in 1992 – Senate) and Michael Montoya ($125 in 2000 – Treasurer).

We know that Montoya is under indictment for federal racketeering, so let’s focus on Mayor Marty Chavez. I realize that folks like Tim might say that I’m making much ado about nothing. After all, it’s $65 more than twelve years ago. But consider this:

Chavez also said he might have asked the [ABQ]PAC to give money to Art Trujillo, an unsuccessful candidate for state land commissioner.

Well, if he didn’t say it, they read his mind because they gave $1,000 to Trujillo from the Mayor’s extorted slush fund. Yup, just like American Financial Group gave its illicit funds to Trujillo. Of course, the Mayor has been paid back generously with $2,000 showing on campaign filings to date from Art Trujillo. Mayor Chavez your Vigil number is 3.