Thursday, June 2, 2011

Whistling the Conflict of Interest Tune

The phrase "Twinkie defense" comes from Twinkies, a food product high in sugar.

I just had a flashback to 1978 and the infamous "Twinkie Defense," coined by reporters during their coverage of the trial of defendant Dan White for the murders of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone.(Thanks to Wikipedia)

How does this relate to the Victor Marshall/Frank Foy allegations that AG King and his office have "irreconcilable conflicts of interest" and should be barred from any further participation in New Mexico's pay-to-play litigation? Well, it seems trendy these days to accuse the AG of having conflicts of interest whenever one of the Office's prosecutions seems to be getting too close to going to trial. You may recall that following the "Twinkie Defense" it seemed that every defense attorney in America began using similar claims in hopes of improving their cases' chances. In the years that followed there was a proliferation of defenses that blamed drugs, alcohol, hypoglycemia, space aliens, "voices in my head," or late night pizza, for causing people to commit crimes. It's the same principle here, if you don't like what the Attorney General is doing, just accuse him of having a conflict of interest.

Before we go any further, let me state that there are no conflicts of interest involved with the AGO's litigation of the cases in question and no one is getting a pass on being held responsible. The rest of the story that Mr. Marshall has not told anyone is that he's known about all of the alleged relationships for more than two years and that he only now is claiming them to be conflicts because the AG took some parts of his play-to-play litigation away from him for non-performance. 

"Victor Marshall has been totally ineffective after two years," says AG King. "I have to put the interests of the state ahead of the interests of Mr. Marshall and his attorney's fees."

But before I leave this topic, one important thing should be pointed out. No other NM Attorney General has ever been this involved in prosecuting corruption and investment fraud. It is not surprising then that some are quick to whistle the conflict of interest tune, hoping no one remembers the old "Twinkie Defense."  

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