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Susana PAC and the Dirty Downs’ Deal

Susana PAC and the Dirty Downs’ Deal

We  know that Governor Susana Martinez owns the “Dirty Downs Deal”. 

What is not as well known, is the influence of Susana PAC, Martinez’s political operation, in the Downs billion-dollar plus contract award. Susana PAC is operated by Jay McCleskey, Martinez’s political advisor, and has the odor of a slush fund, similar to ABQPAC that benefitted former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez, in violation of the City’s ethics code.

Andrea Goff, Susana PAC’s main fundraiser, also happens to be the daughter-in-law and business partner of State Fair Commissioner, Kenneth “Buster” Goff.  She raised tons of money for Susana PAC months before Martinez appointed Buster Goff to the State Fair Commission.

According to Susana PAC’s Report of Expenditures and Contributions through September 2011, Andrea Goff was paid $29,132.47 from April to September. 

5/5/11      $ 6,033.96

6/2/11   $ 7,002.47

7/7/11      $ 5,410.52

8/2/11      $ 7,304.50

9/6/11      $ 3,381.02

The state’s conflict of interest campaign disclosure law specifically includes daughter-in-law as a familial relationship that must be disclosed.  There does not appear to be any formal public disclosure of the familial relationship between Buster and his daughter-in-law, Andrea.  

Buster Goff,was originally against the Down’s contract before he was in favor of it. He changed his mind after he was given the unique opportunity to alter the contract, when other commissioners were told they could not. Goff‘s favorable vote was the tie-breaker that ensured the Downs was awarded the contract. Did Laguna Development, the other bidder, know about Andrea Goff?

As a fundraiser, Andrea Goff was most likely paid a percentage of the money she raised. Based on payments made to her by Susana PAC, her income added significantly to the Goff family income.  If Buster Goff had not voted in favor of the Down’s contract, might that have cost her the lucrative work with Susana PAC? Republicans Tom Tinnin and Charlotte Rode can attest that Martinez does not hesitate to punish those who do not do her bidding. 

There are other questionable contributions to Susana PAC by the Downs at Albuquerque majority owners William Windham and John Turner. 

According to the Downs at Albuquerque’s written response to the RFP, “William Windham and John Turner are currently members and the co-Managers of SunRay Gaming of New Mexico, LLC which owns and operates SunRay Park and Casino located in Farmington, New Mexico.”

On 7/7/11, SunRay Gaming of New Mexico gave Susana Pac $5,000. The timing of this is of interest, considering that the RFP was issued on 7/24/11-  two weeks later. (Note that documents received by ISPAC as part of an IPRA request did not contain any campaign contribution disclosure information pertaining to this contribution).

On 5/6/11, Windham and Turner, through Brazos Land & Cattle gave another $5,000 to Susana PAC. That contribution also had interesting timing. Just a few weeks after receiving that contribution, Martinez announced that she was putting the Downs one-year extension with the State Fair onto the call for the special legislative session. 

There is also Jay McCleskey’s relationship with Charles “Chuck” Gara to consider.   Gara was the evaluator appointed by Martinez who gave the Downs at Albuquerque a perfect score in “managerial expertise”, despite the well-documented history of problems.  As ISPAC previously reported, Gara had hired McCleskey to run his pro-business political action committee in Albuquerque. During that time, Gara was accused by members of the Albuquerque City Council of joining the Planned Growth Strategy Task Force for the purpose of rigging its outcome to benefit his committee.

The Martinez Administration claims to have no documents or written communications pertaining to how Martinez selected Gara as an evaluator for the racino bids. Is is possible that all of the communication was between Gara and Susana PAC, not the Governor’s office?

And why was Agnes Maldonado paid $3000 by Susana PAC on 5/26/11for “professional services” while she was an employee of ExpoNM? Maldonado testified to the State Fair Commissioners on July 29, 2011 that she had “been reviewing the financials” of the State Fair since May 2011. Did Susana PAC pay her for that work and did the information find its way over to the Downs’ through Susana PAC?  Maldonado has since become the Director of Administration for ExpoNM. 

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