Inside the Capitol

Monday, November 13, 2006

11-15 Will Rummy Return to NM?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Will former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld move back to New Mexico now that his services are no longer needed in Washington?
Before accepting Vice President Dick Cheney's request that he be top man at the Pentagon, Rummy spent most of his time at his ranch in El Prado on the northern outskirts of Taos.
He also owned several other properties in the Taos, Mora, Las Vegas and Santa Fe areas, plus part interest in several art galleries and 50 percent of a corporation developing residential housing in Santa Fe.
Rumsfeld had a daughter, Valerie, living in Santa Fe, who ran one of his art galleries. A year or so after Rumsfeld's stint at the Pentagon began, Valerie reported dogs barking at someone outside her house.
Police quickly found some poor soul two blocks away who felt moved to spray paint a frogman image on sidewalks in downtown Santa Fe as a matter of artistic expression.
The police decided he must be the guy the dogs were barking at so they arrested him, impounded his car, questioned him for hours, searched his home, car and computer, questioned his friends and threw him in jail.
All they found was that he had been born in Afghanistan, so they called in the FBI, which questioned him for two months and gave him a polygraph test. When they could find nothing on him other than being born in Afghanistan, they turned the case back to local authorities who charged him with graffiti, an all-time first in Santa Fe.
Valerie Rumsfeld was subpoenaed to testify at his hearing, but didn't show. When the judge issued an order for her to show cause why she hadn't responded, the judge was told by a federal security agency to back off because it was possibly an overt retaliation against the secretary of Defense.
Three months after the incident, the artist got his first look at the police report and learned for the first time that his arrest was because of Valerie Rumsfeld.
Meanwhile, in Taos, anti-war protesters learned the location of Rumsfeld's ranch and rallied outside the gate. Rumsfeld wasn't there but the protesters were met by 17 federal agents, bolstered by large numbers of state and local police.
Such favored treatment by the law enforcement and judicial systems hasn't endeared the testy Rumsfeld to some of his New Mexico neighbors. But we're generally a forgiving people with a reputation for not bothering celebrities, including Julia Roberts who spends much time at her ranch near the Rumsfelds.
Rummy may not be looking forward to possible harassment but the last we heard, he was still wearing his hiking boots from time to time at the office to remind him of his "New Mexico paradise." So far, he has refused to speak publicly about his plans.
He's sure to be sought after by many companies. He can have his choice among many CEO or board member offers, especially from his home turf of Chicago.
Rumsfeld, 74, doesn't have to work another day in his life. He's sitting on a reported $350 million fortune made through savvy investing. He says his two favorite activities are hiking near his Taos home and hitting the slopes at Taos Ski Valley. But he'll still want to keep busy in the business world.
He also can open many doors for clients as a consultant. He has strong ties to the pharmaceutical and defense industries, which can offer him many opportunities. Conservative think tanks also are sure to be after him.
I'm guessing Rumsfeld will pass himself around. He'll spend time in the Windy City, in Taos and Santa Fe and at his multi-million dollar mansion on Chesapeake Bay near his good buddy, Vice President Dick Cheney.
If it were me, I'd pick Taos and being a neighbor of Julia Roberts, instead, even though that ranch house is estimated at only a million bucks.
WED, 11-15-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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