Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Racetrack Deal Will Be Issue in Dem Governor Primary

At least one potential challenger to Gov. Susana Martinez is making the controversy over the Downs at Albuquerque an issue in the campaign.

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, released a statement Wednesday evening that said:

Sen. Linda Lopez
“A dark cloud hangs low over the grand opening of the Downs at Albuquerque. ... Individuals close to the governor have been questioned by the FBI regarding the billion dollar contract pushed through by the governor’s men, and which largely benefits a small group of individuals who made massive political contributions to the governor’s campaign and political action committees. 

It is long past the time for the governor to disclose to the public the role the governor’s men played in awarding the contract.  This includes her Political Director Jay McCleskey, Former National Republican Committeeman Pat Rogers, Downs at Albuquerque Manager Darren White, Downs at Albuquerque Principal Paul Blanchard, State Fair Commission Chairman Larry Kennedy, State Fair Manager Dan Mourning and the Governor’s husband, Chuck Franco.  

“Additionally, I am calling on the Governor to release all documents, including e-mails from her private e-mail account, that pertain to the awarding of the contract.  Gov. Martinez ran for office promising transparency and an end to political favoritism and corruption.  With the awarding of the contract, the Governor continues the secretiveness and behind-closed-doors dealing she so adamantly condemned while running for office.” 

Martinez and many of the others named in Lopez's statement have long maintained that there was no wrongdoing in awarding the 25-year contract to operate the racetrack and casino at the State Fairgrounds.

Andrea Goff, a former finance director of Martinez's 2010 campaign and the governor's political action committee, SusanaPAC said in June that she had been interviewed by the FBI about the Downs deal. A lawyer for Martinez's former Personal assistant Anissa Galassini Ford, who was investigated (but not charged) in the case of the governor's hijacked emails, told the Albuquerque Journal that she also was questioned by the FBI about the Downs.

However, a spokesman for Martinez has said that nobody in the administration has been interviewed by the FBI concerning the Downs contract.

With Lopez going on the attack, however, the issue will be getting some discussion as the campaign unfolds.