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Shotgun Was Personal Gift, Gov. Says

By Jeff Jones
Journal Staff Writer
    REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Gov. Bill Richardson and other New Mexico politicians vowed to unload thousands of dollars in contributions from stockbroker Guy Riordan after courtroom testimony implicated Riordan in a state Treasurer's Office kickback scheme.
    But Richardson's office said this week he has no plans to get rid of another gift involving Riordan: a pricey shotgun Riordan and other Richardson friends gave the governor as a birthday present in November 2003.
    "This was a personal gift from friends— and in no way should be considered political," spokesman Pahl Shipley said of the shotgun— a 12-gauge Browning.
    Shipley said the gun is valued at about $2,000.
    Former state treasurer Michael Montoya earlier this month testified that Riordan gave him up to $100,000 in kickbacks in return for state business.
    The testimony came during the ongoing corruption trial of Robert Vigil, who succeeded Montoya as treasurer.
    Riordan has not been charged in the case, and his lawyer has said the kickback allegation is untrue.
    Richardson removed Riordan from the state Game Commission the same day as Montoya's testimony. And Richardson, along with Lt. Gov. Diane Denish and Attorney General Patricia Madrid, said they would give their political contributions from Riordan to charity.
    Shipley confirmed the gift in response to a question from the Journal.
    He said the Browning shotgun was a gift from a group of about 10 people, including Riordan, but declined to name the others.
    Richardson recently said he is creating an ethics and campaign-finance task force to help formulate legislation for the 2007 legislative session.
    At the time of that announcement, Richardson said he would support campaign-contribution limits and bans on gifts to elected officials.
    But Shipley reiterated the Browning was a personal gift, not a political gift, and therefore doesn't fall under the category of gift-giving that Richardson aims to reform.
   
Leno takes on Gov.
    The governor got zinged by The Tonight Show with Jay Leno earlier this week for his middle-of-the-road position on cockfighting.
    "New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says he's undecided about cockfighting, which is not banned in New Mexico. He says there are good arguments on both sides. Really?" Leno asked during his Monday-night monologue.
    "What's the good argument for cockfighting?" Leno continued. " (It) keeps roosters off the street. It gives those roosters without any skills a chance to make it. What reason is there for cockfighting?"
    Richardson for several years has said he remains undecided on a statewide cockfighting ban.
    The Leno barb came a few days after Richardson addressed the topic during a town hall meeting in southern New Mexico.
    The Las Cruces Sun-News published a story on the meeting, quoting Richardson as saying, "I have not made up my mind on that." And the news went national after the Drudge Report linked to that story.
    Leno isn't the only one who took note: Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, fired off a letter to Richardson on Wednesday.
    "I am writing to express our profound disappointment with your recent equivocal statement on the bloodsport of cockfighting," Pacelle wrote.
    "We cannot help but think that your position on the subject will also be fodder for editorial writers, cartoonists, and other social commentators in the months and years to come," Pacelle added.
   
Shotgun spoof
    On a lighter note, I received an e-mail earlier this week— from a Republican, mind you— containing a video spoof starring Vice President Dick Cheney, whose hunting exploits on both ends of a shotgun have made national news this year.
    I won't give any more away. But an Internet search using the keywords "Cheney" and "Easter Bunny" should help you dig up the video clip.
    Happy hunting.