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We made progress on ethics reform this year, in a roundabout way.
An ethics commission is probably the single most important step. After years of weak excuses by legislative leadership of both parties, of ethics bills bottled up in committee, we finally got to the root of their reluctance: They feel a big target painted on their backs and the higher they are in the pecking order, the bigger the target.
“You’re giving a small group of people a lot of power and you have to make sure you set it up as well as possible before you let this animal go,” said she who did much of the bottling, Sen. Linda Lopez.
The code word last year was “structure.” Translation: Who would sit on such a commission and how would they be chosen to assure fairness? The code word this year was “witch hunt.”
It’s not paranoia if “they” really are out to get you. Remember that Gov. Toney Anaya was the subject of a vague, politically motivated investigation that exposed his children to taunts at school, probably cost a fortune to defend, wasted a lot of time and found nothing. In the wasteland we call politics, an accusation can ruin reputations and take years to disprove.
It’s not hard to understand lawmakers’ fears, but that doesn’t justify their foot dragging.
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