Sometimes secrecy can be explained

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — Perhaps  there was good reason for Attorney General Gary King to want his advice kept secret concerning the veto of a double dipper bill last March.

This column and many other commentaries on King’s action had suggested his motivation was suspicious, maybe even nefarious. But it may be the secrecy was necessary to the performance of his job.

Those of us in the news business hate secrecy. We go to court to gain access to documents. But it appears the attorney general may sometimes be forced into secrecy because the office can find itself in the position of representing both sides of an issue.

First, a little background so we’re sure we’re on the same page. Double dippers are those of us who retire and then go back to work and collect a paycheck in addition to our retirement check.

If it’s not with the same employer, no one seems to care. Military retirees probably are the most common double dippers.

Last year, the New Mexico Legislature almost unanimously passed a budget-balancing measure preventing state employees from returning to work and collecting a state paycheck plus a state pension. Gov. Richardson somewhat surprisingly vetoed the measure upon advice from the attorney general, who wanted the reasons kept confidential.

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