Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Senate Rules May Ask To Subpoena Fair Manager

The Senate Rules Committee will consider asking the full Senate to issue a subpoena to State Fair Manager Dan Mourning, who earlier this week didn't show up to a hearing about the fair and the controversial 25-lease awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque.

If approved by the full Senate, it would be the first time a subpoena for a standing legislative committee has been issued since the impeachment investigation of Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block, Jr. in 2011. (Block resigned before he could be impeached.)

Rules Chairwoman Linda Lopez has drafted a resolution asking for a subpoena forcing Mourning to appear on Feb. 17.

"... despite repeated requests, Expo New Mexico general manager Dan Mourning has refused to appear before the Senate Rules Committee to provide it with information necessary for the committee to make a considered recommendation on the nomination of the executive's appointments to the State Fair Commission."

Earlier today the committee gave positive recommendations to Charles Brown and Bill Lee, two of Gov. Susana  Martinez's fair commission nominees. The full Senate later unanimously confirmed both commissioners.

However, the committee didn't act on Martinez's request to re-confirm Commission Chairman Larry Kennedy. Instead they grilled him about the operation of the fair and whether the commission or Mourning was actually running the fair.

At Monday's hearing one current and two past members of the commission testified about the Downs lease and said the administration had tried to keep fair commissioners out of the loop.

A spokesman for the governor said Monday that the hearing that day was "nothing more than a taxpayer-funded political circus orchestrated by a desperate candidate for governor where not a single new piece of information was revealed. What you saw were people with incredible axes to grind, all of whom have had their wild-eyed accusations repeatedly discredited.”

Update Feb.13: The original version of this post had the wrong date for which Mourning was being called to testify. That's been fixed but it's moot now because Mourning testified Thursday. See Friday's New Mexican.