We genuinely believe disgraced former state senator Phil Griego when he said at his Feb. 16 sentencing, “I genuinely believe I am not a criminal.” It’s a sad comment on the bullet-proof beliefs many elected officials have of themselves.

    After all Griego didn’t kill, beat, rape or physically harm anyone. He said as much.

    “I spent 35 years in public life and not once has anyone stood up and said, ‘I am a victim of a crime and I blame Phil Griego.’”

    Everyone in New Mexico can stand up and say they do blame Griego after his conviction of corruption charges. However, Griego would still not get it. He stole from all New Mexicans. He acted inappropriately as a state senator and as a human being. He is not an honorable person.

    It’s frightening to know that he, and probably many other elected officials, don’t see the wrong in bribery or colluding in any sort of business exchange with the entity they represent. However, it’s clear that many of them do know they’re violating the law and the voters’ trust. Why else would so many state senators and representatives fight against ethics reform?

    At 69 years old, any prison time will be tough for Griego. We won’t argue here whether 18 months is sufficient for his crimes. After his comments to Albuquerque Judge Brett Loveless, we doubt when Griego emerges in nine months (he’ll earn nine months good time if he behaves), he’ll take responsibility for what he did.

    He actually thought about running to regain his senator seat after he resigned in disgrace, admitting culpability. Another sad comment on society: he probably could have won. That speaks to many voters sharing Griego’s belief that he really didn’t do anything wrong.

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