State Fair Contract to Undergo AG, State Auditor Scrutiny

With almost no discussion, legislation was passed by the senate

Tuesday requesting an investigation into lease agreements at the New

Mexico State Fair.

Sen. Cisco McSorley sponsored Senate Joint Memorial 28, which asks

“the New Mexico Attorney General and the state auditor to study past

and present leases at the New Mexico State Fair.”

McSorley said he was motivated to introduce the bill by the loss of

$17 million over the last five years at the state fair due to leases

signed improperly.

McSorley did not mention the controversial contract with the Downs,

signed late last year, which could be worth more than $1 billion to

Louisianna-based Downs owners William C. Windham and John Turner over

the next 25 years.

Windham and Turner have donated thousands of dollars to Gov. Susana

Martinez, and critics from both sides of the aisle have said the

governor manipulated the contract awarding process so Windham and

Turner came out winners.

McSorley has been a vocal and adamant critic of the Downs lease.

Sen. Michael Sanchez said after the vote he was surprised there wasn’t

any debate. He asked Sen. Tim Jennings, also a critic of the deal, why

he wasn’t taking half an hour to give his opinion of the contract.

Jennings said he “kept quiet to make peace” with the governor’s

office, but that he still didn’t understand why no one at the state

fair could tell him who wrote the contract.

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