ISPAC uncovers undisclosed conflict of interest involving two of the RFP evaluators, appointed by Susana Martinez, who recommended the Downs at Albuquerque for a 25-year contract over Laguna Development Corp. ISPAC calls for canceling the contract.
November 10, 2011
Government contracts are typically awarded to the entity that offers the best return to the taxpayers. However, in the case of the awarding of a 25-year lease for the construction of a casino at New Mexico Fairgrounds, the RFP evaluators for the contract recommended the least favorable bid for the taxpayers. The winning bidder proposed to pay the state a minimum of $1,000,000 per year LESS in lease payments than Laguna Development Corp., the losing bidder. Yet, the Downs at Albuquerque still won.
Laguna Development Corp. also happens to be Native American owned and operated.
Something is rotten in New Mexico. That something is the Martinez Administration and what stinks goes way beyond the fact that Martinez's campaign received $70,000 in contributions from the winning bidder. "Pay-to-Play" was how Martinez, during her campaign, described similar conduct when talking about her predecessor's administration.
Susana Martinez appointed three people to evaluate the RFP, Garrett Hennessey, Charles "Chuck" Gara and John A. Garcia. The evaluators are supposed to be totally neutral and without conflict of interest in determining who should be granted the winning bid.
However, Charles D. Brunt reported in an Albuquerque Journal article on August 12, 2011, the Downs at Albuquerque hired Darren White "to assist the racino in putting together a proposal to continue operating the racetrack and casino at Expo New Mexico for the next 25 years."
Regarding adding White to the Downs team, Traci Wolf, vice president of the Downs at Albuquerque said, "he has been hired as a consultant to assist us with preparing our request for proposal." White's employment and role in the RFP is not exactly a secret. Read the article here.
Yet, two of the evaluators gave money to Darren White's failed congressional bid. Gara contributed $1,500 and Hennessey gave $250. See the FEC reports to the right.
Clearly, these two are not independent evaluators. But, this should come as no surprise. After all, Martinez used Darren White in her campaign commercials.