Kudos to Diane Denish on Transparency

Lt. Governor Diane Denish is running for the state’s top office in 2010. She will be a formidable candidate, there is no doubt about it. Her biggest hurdle is most likely to be the time she has spent closely associated with current Gov. Bill Richardson. And, while it is true that they did not run as a ticket, there is no doubt that voters and the public will wonder why she didn’t do more to stop corruption and ethics violations that have run rampant in Santa Fe.

That said, Denish is due some credit for her recent public pledge to make transparency a centerpiece of her campaign. According to this story in Forbes, Denish has proposed creating a Web-based “sunshine portal” that would allow New Mexicans to track state expenditures, check on scheduled meetings, learn more about high-level state employees and their salaries, check out laws and regulations and offer opinions.

While I’m not sure what to make of one of her other proposals, that being for a powerful statewide ethics commission that “could investigate ethics complaints, launch its own probes, impose fines, refer cases for criminal prosecution, and establish a code of ethics and training for state workers and appointees,” the sunshine portal really is newsworthy and I think the Rio Grande Foundation can take some credit for this. In fact, we introduced Denish (and many other legislators in Santa Fe) this session to Robert Wood of the Texas Comptroller’s office. Texas’s comptroller Susan Combs has been a national leader in promoting government transparency and would be a great model for Denish and/or others who want to improve government transparency to follow.

The Rio Grande Foundation actually maintains a “Sunshine Page.” We call it Sunshine Review. Check out various transparency-related legislation here.