Thursday, February 13, 2003
Regent Nominees Get Panel OK
By Loie Fecteau
Journal Politics Writer
SANTA FE A Senate committee on Wednesday voted to endorse three nominees for the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology board of regents who acknowledged they have signed undated resignation letters for Gov. Bill Richardson.
Jerry Armijo, a Socorro lawyer who served as chairman of the Commission on Higher Education for the past year and a half;
Richard Carpenter, a retired Santa Fe lawyer;
Isaiah Storey, a senior at New Mexico Tech who is majoring in chemical engineering.
Their nominations now go to the full Senate for confirmation.
Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, contends Richardson's policy of having his appointees to university boards sign resignation letters that Richardson could invoke at will conflicts with the state constitution. The state constitution says regents "shall not be removed except for incompetence, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office."
Adair said the undated letters mean Richardson's appointees to university boards would be unable to act independently.
"The letter of resignation in my view hangs over your head," Adair told Storey, the New Mexico Tech student regent nominee.
Storey and the other nominees to the New Mexico Tech board told the committee that the resignation letters would not influence their decisions.
Carpenter said the letters "serve a political purpose in showing that the governor has taken responsibility and is held accountable" for actions by university boards.
However, Carpenter, who noted that regents take an oath of office, said he did not think Richardson "can control that person (regent)" by the letters.
Carpenter said the constitutional issues raised by Adair are "going to be up to a court when the issue legally arises."