Thursday, December 22, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: USED CARS

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 22, 2005


Would you buy a used car from this administration official?

Jeff Siembieda, deputy director of the New Mexico Sports Authority has been appearing on television lately. But it’s not for talking up Gov. Bill Richardson’s efforts to bring a National Football League team to the state.

No, he’s selling cars in a commercial for Cross Country Auto Sales, an Albuquerque business.

Siembieda, a former morning news anchor on Channel 13 and sportscaster on Channel 7, said he’s not violating any state rules by making a commercial. In an interview Wednesday he said he checked it out with the governor’s office before doing the ad.

“It has nothing to do with my duties as deputy director,” he said. Cross Country wanted him, he said, because of his radio show.

Siembieda hosts a sports talk program called “The Big Show” weekday afternoons on Albuquerque’s KKNS, 1310-AM. Cross Country, he said, is an advertiser on the station.

Siembieda ran into some criticism earlier this year for keeping his radio show while taking a job in the administration. He earns about $50,000 for the state.

But apparently, there’s no problem with the governor’s office with the show, and indeed no problem with the commercial.

Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said Wednesday that the commercial was “just a one-time deal.”

“It was just a favor for a friend,” Gallegos said. “It’s not an ongoing thing. He wasn’t representing the Sports Authority. There’s no conflict with his job.”

O.K. But if we start seeing commercials with state Public Safety Secretary John Denko endorsing Blake’s Lota Burger or Department of Finance and Administration chief James Jimenez plugging Cliff’s Amusement Park, we’re going to start to wonder.

Who did you support? Santa Fe art and real estate tycoon Gerald Peters’ fund raiser to help retire state tax secretary Jan Goodwin’s 2002 campaign debt was Wednesday night. Goodwin ran in the Democratic primary that year, losing to Robert Vigil, who has since resigned in the face of scandal and federal indictment.

In a cover letter that went out with the invitation, Peters wrote, “As you may know, I also supported her 2002 campaign for the position of state Treasurer.”

Perhaps it was only moral support.

A search of Followthemoney.org, the Web site for The Institute of Money in State Politics found no contribution from Peters or any of his companies to Goodwin’s campaign.

However, according to the Web site, Peters’ umbrella Peters Corp did make one contribution to the treasurer’s race. In October, 2002, the company gave $500 to Vigil, who was running unopposed in the general election.

Goodwin said last week she has an outstanding campaign debt of $71,500. More than $100,000 of the $179,000 she spent on that race was from herself and her family.

Carraro weighs his options: State Sen. Joe Carraro might try to change Senates.

In an interview last week, the Albuquerque Republican said he’s considering a race for incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s seat next year.

“I’ve made several trips to Washington, D.C. where I’ve talked with various people,” Carraro said. At first he was talking with “conservative groups,” he said. Recently he’s been talking to official Republican organizations, he said.

If he does run, Carraro said that none other than Jack Kemp, the 1996 GOP vice presidential candidate, would be his national fund raiser.

Candidates in the Republican primary so far include Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer and former state Sen. Tom Benavides of Albuquerque.

Nobody’s saying it’ll be easy beating Democrat Bingaman, whose approval rating is nearly 60 percent according to the most recent Survey USA/KOB poll, conducted on Dec. 12.

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