Will Gov’s Security Detail Guard Chuck Franco While He Guards the Courthouse?

The Albuqerque Journal today did a piece on how first gentleman, Chuck Franco, has taken a part-time job (no double dipping so he can keep his pension) as a court security officer guarding the federal courthouse in Santa Fe. He is working for a private contractor under contract to the US Marshall’s service. 

The article doesn’t identify the private contractor, but AKAL has the security contracts at the other federal courthouses in New Mexico. So it’s likely that Franco is working for AKAL. 

AKAL has been generous to many politicians and both political parties. Franco’s wife, Susana Martinez, received over $10,000 from AKAL to assist in her run for governor. Thus, it appears that Martinez’s husband is working for one of her campaign contributors

Connections can be very helpful if you know how to work them.

Back in September 2011, Franco, went on a hunting trip to Louisiana accompanied by two members of Governor Martinez’s security detail.

They drove from New Mexico to Louisiana and back in a state vehicle and paid for all of their gas with taxpayer money.

The Downs of Albuquerque happens to have two owners that live in Louisiana. One of who owns a large horse farm in an area known for its waterfowl and deer hunting. The trip occurred after the Downs had submitted its response to RFP for the racino contract, but before the evaluators selected the Downs for the billion-dollar plus contract.

Although it is yet to be confirmed, ISPAC has learned that prior to this trip, Franco had hunted with Paul Blanchard, the other owner of the Downs. Blanchard used to hunt with Martinez’s predecessor Bill Richardson too.

Coincidence perhaps? 

Commonsense would seem to say no. More likely than not, this trip probably occurred with some help from the Downs folks. As best as can be pieced together from gas receipts, the Shreveport/Bossier City area where both Louisiana owners live is the only Louisiana city that Franco and his security detail came through twice during the trip.

The Martinez administration has so far refused to provide documents to the New Mexico Attorney General’s office regarding Franco’s hunting trip. These records might show where Franco stayed, who he hunted with, and what involvement if any the trip had to do with the bidders from the Downs. Any role played by the guys from the Downs would constitute bribery since it occurred during the procurement process.

The administration has cited the governor’s safety as the reason for not producing the records. Yet, even in Texas, where the public’s right to inspect public records was decimated by then governor, George W. Bush, the Texas Supreme Court shot down the safety argument ruling that their sitting governor’s travel records are public record after one year from the date of travel.

New Mexico’s public records act is far stronger than Texas when it comes to requiring the release of records to the public. 

Fourteen months later, Martinez will not release the records despite the fact that it appears to be a once in lifetime trip for Franco. Her security detail was on duty, and likely paid by the taxpayers to protect Franco, whenever they were in his company. 

Yet, Franco is now being paid to protect others. He appears to be quite capable of protecting himself too.

Martinez’s refusal to produce those records about a long-ago trip appears to have little to do with Franco’s safety. It does; however, reek of cover-up

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