Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Jeff Story

I worked with  Jeff Bingaman when he was the Attorney General for New Mexico.  He and Bruce King had run campaigns at the same time in 1978 and I got to know him well there.  Just before he and Bruce were sworn in as office holders the Governor appointed me as New Mexico's State Liquor Director.  The laws on licenses then led to corruption and were the focus of the New Mexico Organized Crime Commission.  The Governor gave me the assignment of cleaning things up and it turned into a monumental three year battle that culminated with the legislature, against all odds,  passing strong reform laws.  The photo above, from the Santa Fe New Mexican, shows Jeff and me testifying on the legislation.

 The Liquor industry sued saying the reform was unconstitutional and Jeff Bingaman took on the job of personally defending our reforms in a week long trial where I was beaten up unmercifully by the industry.  One day as we were leaving an especially bad day in court where the Judge seemed to side on every issue with the plaintiffs, Jeff came up to me and said, "Don't worry, the Judge is just making those other guys feel good.  I think we will win."   And sure enough we took all the marbles.  In fact, the industry lost some incentives that had been built into the new law.  They brought the lawsuit and ended up screwing themselves badly.

I tell this story because Jeff's instincts were so good.  That is why he served us as a U.S. Senator for 30 years.

I will be on the road for a week but posting regularly.  I have board meetings in California with stops along the way.

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