Friday, July 4, 2008

Bill Richardson and Santa Fe Protective Services: A One Year Retrospective

[Below is a revised version of a post I began writing shortly after my encounter with the July 4th, 2007 "Bill Richardson Hummer." I am leaving all the tenses in their original form—I was going to publish this story in early August, 2007]

This story began a month ago. It started quickly—with a keen eye and a few clicks of a camera—and was soon published on this very blog. Shortly after the post went online a handful of other bloggers caught on, most of them using the photos I took:

The Daily Background(with updates HERE)

The Politico's Ben Smith

Green Mountain Politics1

Along with a fair number of visitors at this and other blogs who were displeased with Richardson's actions were a few (some angry) Richardson people who cleared up the situation as quickly as they could. I checked in with the sources who were also carrying the sources and followed their lead by taking down what I had originally written. A month out, I still can't put down the story, so here I am again.

New Hampshire campaigning is a lot like New Hampshire itself—big flashy things stick out in the presence of rolling hills and pleasant landscapes. I was equally surprised to see a shiny black Hummer show up at the small-town Amherst Fourth of July parade with a trailer of Bill Richardson for President equipment in tow. I was all the more surprised to spot New Mexico plates on the vehicle, as well as the logo for "Santa Fe Protective Services." That name sure didn't sound like "Joe's Hardware" to me, so I committed it to memory.

Below is the logo for Santa Fe Protective Services from their's a match.

Light research into the company didn't turn up any direct explanation for its presence at the event--the company wasn't receiving money from the Richardson campaign and there was no mention of the Governor on their web page. I did, however, find the following listed on the company's "about us" page:

Christina Moya isn't on Richardson's staff either, but finding her name on the page began to unravel a complicated plot much more detailed than the response Richardson's campaign gave after the Hummer story broke: that the car was simply that of a supporter. Personally, I think of supporters as families in minivans or guys with old cars and bumper stickers that follow a candidate around and hold up signs. "Supporter" takes on a new meaning here.

Christina Moya is the daughter of Mr. Walter "Butch" Maki, a New Mexico businessman and recent home-buyer in New Hampshire.

Who is Butch? Check out the following articles:

(Business Wire, Jan. 5, 2005)

Walter "Butch" Maki, a former helicopter combat soldier in Vietnam, served as long-time district director for Congressman Bill Richardson, and formed professional relationships with New Mexico's federal, state, and local political and grassroots leaders.
(Albuquerque Journal, Feb. 11, 2007)

(Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan. 28, 2007)

So...Maki is a lobbyist and former aide of Bill Richardson, but what proof is there of Maki receiving any recent benefit from his relationship with the Governor? Well, here's one possibility that sticks out (from the Santa Fe New Mexican on March 3, 2005):

The [New Mexico] House approved the bill on a 56-6 vote without almost no debate.

One provision could provide some financing for a startup company that is negotiating to buy Qwest's telephone lines on the Navajo reservation. The company, Sacred Wind Communications, plans to use wireless technology to expand telephone service on Navajo lands.

A quick search of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission's website yields a searchable database of corporations operating within New Mexico. Using the search, Maki's name appears next to two corporations, one of which should sound quite familiar...

Sacred Wind—the company contracted under Richardson's administration.
Maki's ties to Richardson, as well as many members of New Mexico's political elite, undoubtedly helped him secure millions of dollars in government contracts during Richardson's time in office.
It's not corruption when a business has very good relationships with politicians and can get terrific government contracts. It's America.

[So did I overreact last year when I put up photos of "Bill Richardson's Gas-Guzzling Hummer" online? Yes, but was there more behind this "supporter's" vehicle than I was initially told (or angrily commented about) by Richardson's campaign? You tell me.]

No comments: