Independent Source PAC

Protecting working families by investigating and exposing the actions, agendas, and hypocrisy of the political Right. ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

11/22/11

Mr. Kenneth J. Gonzales U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico P.O. Box 607 Albuquerque, NM 87103 RE: Dear Mr. Gonzales: This letter is to request that the US Attorney’s Office conduct an investigation into the selection process involving the award of a contract by the State of New Mexico to the Downs at Albuquerque. Based upon our investigation and reporting by the media there are serious questions about the selection process, indicating that “pay to play” and “bid rigging” may have played a role in the awarding of the contract.  Individuals connected to Downs (winning bid) contributed $70,000 to Susana Martinez’s campaign.  On or about August 12, Darren White was hired by the Downs of Albuquerque to assist them with “putting together a proposal to continue operating the racetrack and casino at Expo New Mexico for the next 25 years.” White’s hiring by the Downs was covered extensively by the media.  White is known to be close to Governor Susana Martinez. He appeared in a campaign TV commercial for her and she appointed him to serve on her Public Safety/Homeland Security search committee as part of her transition process. Martinez also appointed White to serve on the New Mexico Judicial Standards Commission.  Governor Susan Martinez personally selected the three bid evaluators to determine which of the two bidders should be awarded the contract.  Two of the evaluators, Chuck Garra and Garrett Hennessey, are close enough to Darren White that they contributed $1500 and $250 respectively to Darren White’s congressional campaign. These contributions do not appear to have been disclosed by the supposedly neutral evaluators.  The evaluators selected the Downs at Albuquerque, despite their bid being much less beneficial to the taxpayers, and having publicly been taken to task for ineptitude in the operation of the existing casino by the Legislative Finance Committee.  On August 20th, just five days before the deadline for submitting proposals, Martinez appointed three new members to the State Fair Commission, who would vote on approving the contract.  Kenneth “Buster” Goff one of the three appointed by Martinez, along with his wife contributed $8500 to Martinez’s campaign.  Martinez withdrew the nomination of another applicant for that position, Dennis Gentry, in order to make room on the Commission to appoint Goff.  The minutes of the November 9th, Special Commission Meeting of the State Fair Commission, shows that several of the Commission members objected to how the evaluation and award of the contract to the Downs at Albuquerque had been handled. Four Commissioners objected to the process and said they would have to vote against the contract—at that time Goff was one of the objectors.  Commission members responsible for voting to approve the contract were not allowed to look at the bid score sheets and other public documents unless they signed a confidentiality agreement. Goff stated that he had not been invited to see all of the proposals and said the timeframe to assess the contract was too restricting. Goff even stated that he could not, “in good conscience vote on it today”.
Independent Source PAC - Phone (505) 250-0244 - 11024 Montgomery Blvd. NE # 128 - Albuquerque, NM 87111 !

Request for Criminal Investigation into “Pay to Play” and “Bid Rigging”

 The vote was cancelled when it was clear that the contract would be voted down at that time.  A workshop to discuss the contract was set for November 21, 2011 and a second meeting on the contract was set for December 1, 2011. The media that covered the Commission hearing wrote about the postponement of the vote “State Fair Commission Postpones Decision on Lease Until Dec.1”.  Dan Mourning, the Acting Chairman of the State Fair, who was appointed by Governor Martinez, then inserted language into the “workshop” agenda allowing for a vote on the contract despite the disclosure of December 1st as the vote date.  Because November 21, was to be a workshop only date, the commission had to vote to withdraw the previous motion that called for two meetings in order to vote during the workshop meeting. The vote was 4-3 to withdraw the previous motion, as was the motion to approve the contract.  Goff suddenly reversed his opposition to the contract and voted to approve it.  Commissioner Charlotte Rode, who had been appointed by Martinez, publicly raised questions about the “propriety of voting on the controversial lease” on a day scheduled “to have been a workshop to discuss the proposal.” Independent Source Pac is in the process of making an Inspection of Public Records Act request for all communications, documents and other records pertaining to this clearly questionable contract award. We will forward those documents to the US Attorney’s office when they are made available. However, we believe that the US Attorney’s office, through it’s subpoena powers and ability to grant use immunity to participants is the best entity to look into this apparent “pay to play” and “bid rigging” especially because of the continued involvement by non-governmental employees in the Martinez Administration’s operations. Sincerely,

Michael Corwin Executive Director

Independent Source PAC - Phone (505) 250-0244 - 11024 Montgomery Blvd. NE # 128 - Albuquerque, NM 87111 !