There is a squabble brewing between Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish and Governor Bill Richardson over State Police Security being provided for the Lt. Gov.
It was first reported by Associated Press Reporter Deborah Baker and published in the Albuquerque Journal.
This issue arises as Denish stepped on Richardson’s toes by forcing the governor to deal with what is referred to as the “Pork Bill” and taking away his political timetable. Pork is the term used for governmental projects that each district gets funded, such as highway improvements. school construction and all the things that state taxes get used for. Pork is often made to sound like a bad thing, because occasionally, weird projects that some people don’t think deserve prioritization get funded.
Richardson’s office closed Saturday and no one would accept the piece of legislation. Near the end of the 30-day session, bills forwarded to the governor with more than three days remaining must be dealt with. It appears that Richardson wanted to hold the “Pork Bill” hostage to leverage some of his initiatives that were languishing in the legislature.
Sometimes there are topics I am comfortable with and others that really are my thing. This is one of my things! I understand providing personal security, though I did it at a different level than governor protection. The security I provided was for judges, who heard felony cases, however, the basics and the philosophy don’t change.
A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the ancient saying goes.
Here is Lt. Gov. Denish meeting with New Mexico State Police Sergeant Alfred Lovato of the governor’s security detail. She was on her way to the House Chambers last month to chair the joint session of the State Legislature to hear Gov. Richardson’s State of the State Address.
The picture would seem to indicate that Denish has State Police Security protection. Nothing could be further from the truth. Denish was walking from the Senate chambers by herself and stopped to chat with Lovato. He was just one of more than a half dozen other State Police officers from the governor’s security detail assigned to cover Richardson and his wife, Barbara. Denish continued to the rostrum unprotected.
This squabble is based on the governor not providing the lieutenant governor with any security all the time.
Richardson meanwhile, has security 24-hours/seven-days a week, in state, out of state or out of country, provided at taxpayer expense.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
A couple of weeks ago, when former President Bill Clinton came to UNM’s Johnson Gym to campaign for his wife Hillary’s presidential run, Denish, the state’s “Hillary Clinton Campaign” chairperson stood on the stage with other Democratic leaders. The stage was surrounded by U.S. Secret Service agents, but not our New Mexico State Police. President Clinton told the crowd that Gov. Richardson was out of state, in Washington, D.C. Even Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez had at least two of his Albuquerque Police Department protective detail visible.
I’ve covered a fair number of political events that Denish attended over the past year or so because of the state races in 2006 and now the presidential and federal races.
I have seen her with a State Police security detail, left background, exactly once. It was in Roswell at the Air Park, Sept. 5, 2007, where she welcomed passengers on the inaugural flight of jet service to and from Dallas. Richardson was out of state that day, on the presidential campaign trail. She was the acting governor and had two security detail officers accompanying her. The officers, below had lunch with State Sen. Timothy Jennings, D- Chaves, Eddy, Lincoln and Otero counties who has since been elevated to Senate President Pro Tempore. Jennings is critical of Richardson’s attitude by saying he thought it was wrong.
At the State Democratic Party’s Central Committee’s meeting in Albuquerque, Nov. 3, 2007, she arrived by herself.
According to the Albuquerque Journal’s Richardson Watch, he was in Iowa.
The lapel pin badge worn by State Police security detail as identification says “Executive Protection.” Executive, according to the state’s constitution, includes the Lt. Gov.
State of New Mexico Constitution Article V Executive Department.
Section 1. Composition of department;
The executive department shall consist of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, attorney general and commissioner of public lands, who shall, unless otherwise provided in the constitution of New Mexico, be elected for terms of four years beginning on the first day of January next after their election. The governor and lieutenant governor shall be elected jointly by the casting by each voter of a single vote applicable to both offices.
During the 2006 political season, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, while campaigning for the U.S. House of Representative, members of the Attorney General investigative staff provided her security.
It raises the question of whether, as Attorney General and a constitutionally identified member of the Executive Department, the AG is entitled to the protection of the State Police’s Executive Protection detail?
I’m not wild about the way security is used for political purposes. I will concede that security is necessary. However, as my Prince Georges’ County Maryland, Courtroom Security Sergeant Bob McCarthy, a former U.S. Secret Service Agent, once told me, when I asked him which role was more important for the service, protecting the money system against counterfeiters or protecting the president?
“Protecting the money, without a stable economy the country is doomed,” he said. “We can get a president anywhere; have you ever noticed how many people line up to be president?”
He had a point.
Bill Richardson, during his federal service, worked in jobs that continually provided him with security. When he moved from Congress to be Ambassador to the United Nations, he had a security detail. When he became the Secretary of Energy, he was given an even more impressive security detail.
Richardson’s penchant for security was obvious, when on election night, November 2002. he was under the protection of State Police. I don’t know the details, but there may have been a reason for such immediate protection.
Governor Gary Johnson, above, didn’t avail himself of protection as he regularly rode on his bicycle as part of his Iron Man tri-athlete training
On Election night 2002, at his acceptance speech, Richardson had State Police Protection, upper right and lower right corners.
Now, as governor, he has a large contingent. His office won’t confirm the actual size, though Senate sources say the number is 16.
Effective security can be provided Richardson with about three officers at any one time, but he seems to like the raw power that having a half dozen or more provides.
For a man who set a Guinness World Record for shaking the most hands in an eight-hour period, he should know that the most common physical threat to a politician is the person who establishes a “death grip” handshake.
The second most common threat comes from the obsessed person, who wants to tell their story, make their case or demand attention, of the politician.
Security may be needed to break the grip or separate the person from the political leader.
This drunken man, at an Old Town political rally, got a hold of Sen. George McGovern, foreground right, D- S.D., the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee. The man would not break his grip. Instead of a Secret Service Agent interceding, it was Stuart Udall, center, father of Rep. Tom Udall, who physically released McGovern.
I have nothing but good things to say about how the New Mexico State Police Officers assigned to the detail handle themselves for the most part; they have been known to get a little skittish about letting other photographers get too close behind him. Then of course, there is their total disregard for the general publics' safety when they drive the governor well over the speed limit. For some reason, they feel that they are exempted from traffic laws. They are not.
The governor is just another citizen who is paid to spend his full time and attention to running the state. He is not a king or emperor.
So taken as fact the necessity for his security, the lieutenant governor is a mere heartbeat away from being governor. Her role is also vital to the smooth running of the state. Any reason that Richardson can justify for his needing security can also fit Denish.
Last year, the legislature funded state police protection for the lieutenant governor, but Richardson took the money for himself. The AP report indicated that Denish had to hire private security to protect her. There is nothing that could be more wrong. Government agents, whose duty it already is, should protect executives.
The governor, "tries to accommodate her as much as possible when she requests security," Governors Spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told AP. Denish should not have to request security, it should be present at all times.
Before First Lady Barbara Richardson gets protection, the lieutenant governor must be protected.
In this squabble, Richardson comes off as a bloated ego driven imperialist with his own pork at stake.
Richardson may call Denish a liar, as he did in this KOB TV Reporter Stuart Dyson’s report, but the governor may not dispute my factual record.
The problems I have experienced are systematic of a wider overbearing political philosophy. Here Gallegos oversee a radio interview on the 2006 election night while under the close protection of two officers. Richardson’s political staff uses the numbers of officers to shield access. They also do not inform me of when and where events are located. I have never been notified of a press conference and his office refuses to acknowledge the internet electronic media.
Executive Protection News Editor Bruce Alexander wishes to add a comment.
Because I value his professionally informed point of view, I am moving his comment from the hidden section and bringing it to the forefront so that we may have an intellectual discussion.
Unfortunately you have your facts wrong in most of your article, otherwise your article would be an interesting read. When Governor Richardson left the U.N. and went to the Energy Department, he was not, as you wrongly claim, given an even more "impressive" detail. In fact, the size of his detail at the Department of Energy was significantly smaller than than at the U.N. How do I know? Because I was assigned to his detail while at the Department of Energy for several years. I worked closely with the Diplomatic Security Service who protected Richardson at the U.N. Additionally,Richardson's detail was significantly smaller than his predecessor at the Department of Energy. In comparison to several other cabinet departments, the Executive Protection detail at the Energy Department was smaller than most other cabinet officers and smaller still than some protective details for the heads of independent agencies who were not even in the line of presidential succession.
Your article also fails to note that Governor Richardson, as a direct result of his service as U.N. Ambassador has been under direct threat from foreign terrorist organizations who threatened to kill him because of his efforts to rescue various U.S. hostages.
In regards to your former supervisor at P.G.County and his comments, I believe he was with the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, which is not the same as you state, a "Secret Service agent." Secondly, there is absolutely no comparison between protecting the "money" and protecting a head of state. It's a very poor analogy. The U.S. does not have a single monetary system. Our monetary system is based on a multitude of factors, not just "money." If you mean currency, the Secret Service does not protect currency, the U.S. Mint Police protects currency, so I'm not sure how your former supervisor is qualified to comment on matters related to protecting currency. In fact, in the U.S., there is more wealth in non currency assets than in currency in circulation, so there's no relationship between currency, or lack thereof, and the economic stability of the U.S. If what you suggest were true, whenever there was inflation we would burn money, not adjust the interest rate. Again, using your flawed logic or that of your former supervisor, we would replace the gold in Ft. Knox with cash, since currency should be protected. It doesn't make sense.
Whether the Lt. Governor should receive Executive Protection or not is one issue but attempting to relate that to the protection of Governor Richardson is not a valid comparison. One basic premise of executive protection which you don't seem to understand is the notion of risk. You protect executives based on a risk analysis (among other things) which is conducted after you assess the threat. Your question should be whether anyone has conducted a threat assessment on the Lt. Governor and do the results merit the degree of protection currently provided? That is the real issue, not what the Governor is getting. You are accusing the Richardson administration of playing politics with the Lt.Governor's protection yet you are guilty of the same thing when it comes to criticizing the protection afforded the Governor.
Executive Protection News
(Bruce Alexander) 10:43 AM
In response to your comment, I thank you for taking the time to correct my facts.
You suggest that my use of “impressive” means anything more than how the detail looked.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson made several visits to New Mexico and in particular the Los Alamos and Sandia National labs. Through personal observation, I saw Richardson’s entourage’s movements; they were more impressive than what I observed of the United Nations detail. I don’t mistake size with impressiveness.
To use an analogy that I’m sure you won’t like, it would be similar to a little league baseball team taking the field and in a circle, tossing a baseball amongst them. Consider a single clown who juggles nine baseballs at one time. He might be considered impressive by comparison.
You guys at Energy looked and seemed impressive.
As for my supervisor, Bob McCarthy at the Prince Georges’ County Sheriff’s Office, my recollection from those squad room conversations during down moments were that McCarthy had been a Secret Service agent. If memory serves me correct, and it has been almost 35 years now, he had been in the Army and was the Sergeant of the Guard during the Nuremburg War Crimes trials. After the Army, he was a Secret Service Agent in a field office before going to the White House. He may well have been part of the then White House Police during Harry Truman's administration.
He told another story related to a suspicious package that was possibly a bomb caught up in the fluoroscope of the day. He went racing to the area from the command post and while running around a corner, bumped into and knocked over a man walking in the hallway. McCarthy said he had not recognized the man he bumped into, but did recognize the Secret Service Agent assigned to President Truman. McCarthy said, that without losing a step, he had just lowered his head, waved his arm and yelled, “Excuse me Mr. President.” The package was not a bomb. The agent assigned to Truman later told McCarthy that everything was all right, and that he had explained what had happened. Truman was uninjured and thankful of the protective action being carried out.
I have one other reason to believe that McCarthy was a Secret Service Agent. There was a sitting Circuit Court Judge, named Parker, who had worked with McCarthy at the White House at the same time. Parker was an uniformed officer of the White House Police Force. As the story goes, he was one of the first, not directly involved, to respond from the White House to a shooting scene of several security personnel. Puerto Rican Nationalists shot three White House Police officers, killing one, at the Blair House, during an assignation attempt of Truman in 1950. Parker’s telling of the story seemed to make a distinction of his and McCarthy’s type of service.
You are the first to raise the possibility that McCarthy was not a Secret Service Agent and I can neither confirm nor deny it. If you can locate and provide McCarthy’s information, I would greatly appreciate your efforts and would willingly stand corrected.
The question I posed about which role was more important; the protection of money (our economic system based on paper that is within the purview of the Secret Service) or the physical protection of the President of the United States, was not asked as a precursor to an economics lesson. It certainly did not get that kind of harsh response; McCarthy’s answer was just as valid.
It would not matter who the president was if the underlying economic structure could be compromised.
I, on more than one occasion, during my career, came upon counterfeit U.S. currency. It was always a U.S. Secret Service Agent, assigned to a field office, who took over those investigations.
I knew police officers who joined the Secret Service and chased counterfeiters and did investigations and who also worked on the presidential protection detail.
It seems that it’s you who wishes to miss the point that the protection of the president may not be more important than maintaining the country’s economic structure.
McCarthy’s answer was direct, yet delivered with a sense of humor appropriate to my asking. As an executive protector, humor may not be something you have the luxury of.
I recognize the threat and risk analysis process as grounds for making decisions. Maybe you missed the part of the story, if you had followed the link to the Associated Press piece, where the legislature had mandated that security be provided to the Lt. Gov.
Not withstanding the threat and risk analysis, there is now a law, which Bill Richardson wishes to ignore; hence my aggravation.
Nowhere in my posting do I suggest that Richardson is not entitled to protection. I just allude to Richardson’s staff playing political games with the Lt. Gov’s. protection.
In this process, Richardson said Denish always got protection when she was acting governor because he was out of state while running for president.
It simply was not true and my photographs that I published, along with many other events I did not publish, would prove it.
If Richardson is still under a credible threat for what he did as a federal actor, as U.N. Ambassador, then it is totally allowable by federal law for the president to assign Secret Service protection to him. Maybe federal agents should be providing that service and picking up the tab.
I’m not questioning that there are terrorists in the world with their sights on Richardson. Just yesterday, we had proof that the back and forth of enemies of terror, as well as terrorists, are always targets. The example was in the car bombing death of long sought Middle East terrorist Imad Mughniyah in Damascus, Lebanon.
Mughniyah was sought from 1980. Richardson may still be on someone’s hit list today.
Richardson is immensely popular within the state, having won reelection by a record percentage of the vote.
I have not criticized the protection afforded to Richardson except as it is compared to the lack of any given to Denish and the belief that Richardson’s staff should make the determination without consideration of the new legal mandate.
The greatest in-state threat to Richardson comes in the form of an Albuquerque Police Officer with a radar gun, as he still is shuttled around the state at speed.