Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Gov.'s Hiring Hit, Defended.(Final)

Byline: David Miles Journal Capitol Bureau

* Six of Richardson's political choices have lost jobs, but his backers defend selection process

SANTA FE -- With either legal or ethical problems revealed after they were hired, six of Gov. Bill Richardson's political appointees lost their jobs during the first five months of his administration.

Some government veterans perceive that Richardson seems to have had more problems than his predecessors with the pasts of top-level appointees. Former Democratic Gov. Jerry Apodaca said Richardson's problems are nothing new.

But it's clear that Richardson's personnel troubles unfolded quickly after he took office in January.

"They've had too many of these things turn up," said Maralyn Budke, who served as former Republican Gov. Garrey Carruthers' chief of staff. "There's something wrong with their vetting."

Dave Contarino, Richardson's chief of staff, defended the Democratic administration's vetting procedure and noted that the six problematic appointments came from a total of just over 300 state employees directly selected by Richardson.

"We have a 98 percent success rate," Contarino said in an interview.

Contarino said it was "impractical to wait weeks" to complete criminal background checks on job applicants, so the Richardson administration hired employees before finishing all of the checks. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.