Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Someone is Lying in NM

Harrison "Jack" Schmitt has been an astronaut (on the last moon landing, in 1972) and a US Senator from New Mexico (1977-1983). He has been through multiple invasive background investigations. So it didn't make sense that he would refuse a background check in connection with his nomination by Governor Susana Martinez to lead New Mexico's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

But that's exactly what state Rules Committee Chair Senator Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) claimed in a press release and in an Albuquerque Journal guest column. She was quoted in a news report as saying "that Schmitt had refused to allow the extensive background review that is part of the Senate's confirmation process." Further "Lopez said Thursday that Schmitt had met with her three days earlier and told her that he wouldn't submit to the review."

Senator Lopez was lying.

Governor Martinez noted, as quoted in the same news article, that Schmitt "was willing to allow a private investigator access to his personal information, but he was not willing to waive that investigator's liability for any improper actions or use of that information." In other words, Schmitt was forced to withdraw his nomination because he was unwilling to waive the liability of the Senator's investigator for improper and/or illegal actions against him.

After weeks of vilification and innuendo, Schmitt finally responded with an Albuquerque Journal guest column of his own. In it, he said

Chairperson of the New Mexico Senate Rules Committee, Democrat Linda Lopez, repeatedly has made erroneous statements about the reason for my withdrawal as secretary-designate for New Mexico's Energy Department (Lopez's Feb. 9 press release and Feb. 20 Albuquerque Journal op-ed).

The simple truth is that I agreed to background investigations by both the Rules Committee and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

I only said "no" to releasing Ms. Lopez's handpicked private eyes from liability for the misuse of personal and family information. I did not say "no" to the committee having full access to that information.

The issue was not whether background checks should be conducted.

Of course they should be.

The issue between Lopez and Gov. Susana Martinez and me was whether private eyes would be held accountable for actions unrelated to the confirmation process.

Schmitt also noted that
Lopez knows that for over five decades of professional life, I have been and continue to be subject to extensive, in-depth background checks, including polygraphs, by multiple federal agencies.
There is consistency, on both sides, throughout this series of events. Senator Lopez says former Senator Schmitt refused the background check. Governor Martinez and former Senator Schmitt both say the issue is his refusal to pre-emptively release Senator Lopez' investigator from liability for improper and/or illegal actions.

The statements by Governor Susana Martinez and former Senator Jack Schmitt make logical sense. The statements by Senator Linda Lopez do not.

The background investigation clearly wasn't the issue. The issue, apparently, is that Senator Lopez has an undisclosed agenda, which may or may not be political. And that's why she's lying about Jack Schmitt.

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