Downs Deal: Not the First Time Martinez Gamed the System

The Downs at Albuquerque deal was not Governor Susana Martinez’s first time around the track when it comes to using her position to improperly steer money to those close to her.

In March 2004, Martinez used her influence as Dona Ana County District attorney to steer federal grant money from the Southwest Border Prosecution Grant. to a friend. This money was used to purchase martial arts equipment for Martinez’s husband’s police department. When asked to justify the purchase by the Director of Financial Control Division of the New Mexico Finance Authority, the agency that oversees distribution of the federal funds, Martinez neglected to mention that her husband was a detective with the department receiving taxpayer money. 

She wrote, “this equipment is necessary for the New Mexico State University Police Department to properly train their officers and detectives in self defense tactics while investigating criminal activity.”

Janetta Hicks, a Martinez employee and close friend, purchased the equipment through her office supply company. 

she purchased the equipment through Century Martial Arts.  A review of the invoice submitted by Hicks, shows among the items that she bought were two “anatomically correct male torso”striking bags shaped like people for $400 apiece.  A check of Century’s website shows that the general public can buy the same bag for the same price—even a few pennies less— than Hicks charged the taxpayers for the bag.

Chuck’s small university police department, staffed with only 22 police officers, could have purchased all of the martial arts equipment directly from Century Martial Arts at a significant discount from the $6200 Hicks charged to taxpayers simply by filling out a purchase order. Century sells all equipment to government agencies at wholesale. 

So, Martinez gave the purchase contract to her friend, who charged the taxpayers full retail, much more than necessary, all to directly benefit her husband without disclosing to the state that he was the recipient of her largess.

Just three days ago, Martinez, stood with State Senator John Ryan, himself once charged with felony extortion and convicted of related felonies, , and boldly stated, “state law needs to be changed to better hold corrupt public officials accountable for their actions and better protect taxpayers from having to pay for their crimes”.

Martinez adopted a Code of Conduct on August 25, 2011, based upon existing state laws, calling for “full disclosure of real or potential conflicts of interest” because employees shall not use “their positions and their powers and resource of public office” in order “to obtain personal benefits or pursue private interests.

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