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You’re Either Ethical or You’re Not

Ten days ago, I made it clear that I think the whole concept of public funding of elections is a bad idea. Well, that resulted in receiving a very polite email from Matt Brix, the NM Executive Director of Common Cause. Here’s an excerpt:

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Judicial Independence released a report in February 2002. The primary recommendation of the report states, “The Commission recommends that states which select judges in contested elections finance judicial elections with public funds, as a means to address the perceived impropriety associated with judicial candidates accepting private contributions from individuals and organizations interested in the outcomes of cases those candidates may later decide as judges.”

See the problem with this recommendation is that it does not address the root of the problem. Namely, the public perception, and unfortunate reality, that there may be some unethical judges (registration). If elected officials, judicial or otherwise, are for sale for the price of a campaign contribution, chances are that they’re lacking when it comes to a personal code of ethics. Unethical judges will behave in an dishonest fashion regardless of how their campaign is funded.

Keep in mind, this is my stand even though Republicans stand to gain the most (subscription) by public funding of judicial campaigns in New Mexico. A perfect example of sticking to your principles even though they’re not in your best interest.

A closing thought. A previous bill was passed and signed into law that will now allow New Mexico PRC candidates to run publicly funded campaigns. Nothing illustrates the problem with this practice better than the fact that individuals like Commissioner E. Shirley Baca can now run for re-election at taxpayer expense. Here is the latest on Baca debacle from the Albuquerque Journal (subscription):

Baca was arrested at Albuquerque International Sunport in December after a substance, which tested positive as marijuana, and a glass pipe were found in her suitcase while she was going through security screening. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia.

Baca has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

The motions filed by Baca’s attorneys, Timothy M. Padilla and Richard B. McClarkin, make several arguments.

Among them:

  • That “Ms. Baca’s bag was entered without her consent, without warrant and the contraband taken from Ms. Baca’s bag was removed from Ms. Baca’s bag outside the correct and proper procedure of the Transportation Security Agency training.”
  • “Property was removed from Ms. E. Shirley Baca’s personal belongings illegally or without proper authorization, unreasonably and in violation of her rights under the Constitution of the United States, the 4th Amendment and her rights under Section 10, Article II of the New Mexico Constitution, her right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.”
  • Obviously, no question that the pipe and pot belonged to the Commissioner. The lawyers are just arguing that she shouldn’t have been caught. Watch for this unethical and hypocritical (registration) Commissioner to get off on a technicality and then contemplate that she is now eligible to run for office again on your hard earned tax dollars.

    I rest my case.