By Ned Cantwell: State Columnist
State Treasurer Robert Vigil resigned his position. We must remember Vigil is innocent until proven guilty.
Vigil resigned last week. At that precise moment it felt as if a white dove flew gracefully overhead while a gentle breeze carrying the faint scent of floral spring deodorizer wafted through the New Mexico air.
Federal prosecutors are trying to nail Vigil to a kickback scheme in which he allegedly received more than $260,000 from investment advisers in exchange for state business.
It’s good he is gone. The financial stink in New Mexico is making people flush their toilets as far away as Maine. One Harvard Law School-trained guy told legislators big money takes a hike when scandal oozes up through state capital soil.
So, why do you and I care? It’s bad business for New Mexico when its state treasury is today’s office joke on Wall Street and in other money centers.
Vigil resigned when a legislative subcommittee began considering evidence for his possible impeachment. Here are excepts from the letter he sent to Gov. Richardson along with a fictional account of what he might have been thinking when he wrote the words.
“Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, I believe it is in the best interests of New Mexico that I resign.”
What he might have been thinking: I’ve got my butt in a sling here. Forget New Mexico’s interests. I need to find a hole to crawl into. Usually, you can count on your own party to go to bat for you in these deals, but even Democrats are crossing the street when they see me coming.
“I am determined not to allow the political process to violate my due process rights. It has become apparent that the impeachment proceeding will be extremely expensive and a great distraction to the Legislature and the people of New Mexico.”
What he might have been thinking: Boy, I wish these folks could get distracted. Where’s Katrina when I need her? New Mexico is dry as a bone and there are apparently no earthquakes pending. Just my luck. Guess who’s the center of attention?
“Furthermore, based on the procedures set up to date by the Legislature it is clear that my ability to defend myself and cross examine my accusers is nonexistent. Therefore, it is unlikely that an impeachment decision would be based on a complete and fair record but would rather be based on the politics of the day.”
What he might have been thinking: Cross examine my accusers? I’d rather sneak off to the Sangre de Cristo mountains and blunder into a cave of hungry bears.
“I have committed no crime and the allegations made by the federal government are false. I look forward to the day when a jury will hear all the evidence and I will have the opportunity to clear my name.
What he might have been thinking: A one-legged lumberjack with a dull ax would have an easier time clearing Gila National Forest.
Ned Cantwell’s column appears in 14 New Mexico newspapers. He welcomes response at: firstname.lastname@example.org