Friday, April 25, 2014

Rael First to Blast Gardner for Credit Card Story

Keith Gardner
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lawrence Rael won the rapid-response prize for his reaction to the story about Gov. Susana Martinez's chief of staff Keith Gardner using a government credit card for personal purchases.

In a news release from his campaign, Rael said:

“The use of state resources by Keith Gardner for personal expenses is not a trivial matter. That the governor’s Chief of Staff either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that he can’t use public resources for private expenses is beyond comprehension. The governor’s top staff member shouldn’t get a pass when a subordinate would be subject to disciplinary measures, if not outright dismissal.

“The excuses provided by Gov. Martinez’s administration don’t match with the law. Keith Gardner’s actions should be fully investigated by the state auditor. Gov. Martinez promised ethical government but can’t even discipline her chief of ctaff on such an obvious misuse of taxpayer funds.”

Thom Cole of The Albuquerque Journal got the scoop, identifying more than $4,500 in personal purchases on Gardner's state card.

As Jerome Block, Jr. might say, that's a lot of chimichungas!  (Cheap shot: Unlike Block, Gardner reimbursed the state for his personal charges long before being forced to.)

Among the items purchased and later reimbursed: a necktie at a Williamsburg, Va., hotel, heartburn medication and iPhone accessories from Walmart, car fresheners from Best Buy, a copy of the magazine Popular Science from an airport gift shop, a coin display case from Michaels and a Southwest Airlines fee for Gardner’s wife.

Car fresheners from Best Buy?

Gardner told Cole his use of the government credit card didn't comply with state policy and was “poor practice and sloppy.” But the said the reimbursements were evidence he wasn't trying to rip off the taxpayers.

He got to keep the card and has faced no discipline for the matter. However, future charges on Garder's now have to be approved in advance.

Rael probably won't be the last  to comment on Gardner's credit card charges. He also was the first Dem candidate to blast Martinez over the behind-the-scenes recordings revealed in that Mother Jones story last week.

Meanwhile, here's a little flashback from Repo Man: