Gov.-elect Susana Martinez will immediately fire any exempt employees of Gov. Bill Richardson who move to classified jobs after the November election without speaking with her transition team, according to a letter from former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, who is chairing her transition team.
The move is meant to stem the usual tide of exempt employees who seek work in "safe" classified spots. I've written some about those moves in past week, as has Thom Cole of the Albuquerque Journal. I get phone calls almost daily with new tips on Richardson appointees who are trying for classified jobs.
Martinez at a press conference earlier today mentioned that she had asked Richardson to stop allowing this, but she didn't mention the letter. Already, Richardson has ordered an end to any more hires in state government, but hasn't said anything publicly about transfers.
I wish Martinez luck in digging into which exempts have indeed moved to classified spots. I know from experience that it is time consuming to follow the paper trail.
Below is the letter to Richardson chief of staff Brian Condit.
In my first communication to you on November 4, 2010, I asked you suspend any transfers of personnel from exempt positions to classified positions effective immediately. I suggested if there are particularly compelling circumstances, we should discuss them on a case-by-case basis.
Today’s Albuquerque Journal reports that, “More of Gov. Bill Richardson’s political appointees have slid into career civil service jobs with state government in recent months … Appointees, or so-called exempt employees, serve at the pleasure of the governor.”
These kinds of personnel actions in the waning days of an administration certainly seem to circumvent the will of the people of New Mexico who voted in a new administration into office just a week ago. The fact that some of these employees are apparently moving into jobs with very high salaries when there is a freeze in place for hiring and a $250 million-plus state budget deficit is inappropriate.
The Governor-elect has made clear that current employees are welcome to apply for jobs in her administration. She is looking for highly-qualified people of character who share her vision for the state of New Mexico.
I am reiterating my request that you immediately suspend any transfers of political appointees to classified posts.
Furthermore, I wish to inform you that any employee who moves from an exempt to classified position after November 3, 2010 without prior discussion with the Transition Committee on a case-by-case basis will immediately be terminated upon the swearing in of Governor-elect Susana Martinez on January 1, 2011.
Chairman, Governor-Elect Martinez Transition Committee