Thursday, February 6, 2014

Governor to Skip Racetrack Hearing

As I reported earlier this week, The Senate Rules Committee has sent invitations to Gov. Susana Martinez, her political consultant Jay McCleskey and others to speak the panel's meeting Monday morning about the State Fair, including a controversial contract with The Downs Racetrack & Casino in Albuquerque.

But Martinez will be a no-show, her spokesman Enrique Knell told me.

Asked if the governor planned to be there, Knell in an email said, "Of course not."

He then followed that with basically the same statement he gave me a couple of weeks ago for a story on the Downs deal, where he pointed out that Rules chairwoman Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, is running for governor and calling the hearing a "petty political sideshow."

I wouldn't bet money on McCleskey showing up either.

Also are invited to the hearing (8:30 Monday, Feb. 10) are Expo New Mexico General Manager Dan Mourning and State Auditor Hector Balderas.

Opponents of Martinez have said the administration gave unfair advantage to the Downs -- which includes large campaign contributors to the governor -- when awarding the multi-million dollar contract in 2011. Martinez has denied that. Proponents of the deal have said a competitive bid wasn't even required for the contract, which the Downs has held since the 1980s. No charges against anyone involved have been filed.