Only bold change will end rampant abuse in state government
In an article published by The Albuquerque Journal, the author reiterated what many New Mexicans are calling for in the wake of several recent, high-profile ethics scandals that have been revealed within the Richardson/Denish Administration – a new level of transparency and commitment to battling abuse in state government.
It was shocking to learn that Bruce Malott, the chairman of the Educational Retirement Board (ERB), had a direct financial interest through a loan from the father of Marc Correra. Marc Correra made millions from finder’s fees related to ERB investments. It also raises another serious question – how many other members of these powerful boards in the Richardson/Denish administration had conflicts related to taxpayer-funded deals they considered? New Mexicans deserve immediate answers.
The costs of the Richardson/Denish Administration’s culture of corruption cannot be measured in dollars and cents alone, as New Mexico has lost both prestige and standing due to the waste, fraud and abuse. We need a new direction in state government – one that has zero tolerance for pay-to-play deals for affluent special interests. As governor, I am ready to provide that from the very first moment I am elected.
Although Diane Denish has partially refunded some of the donations from disgraced ex-ERB Chairman Malott, I believe that it is her duty as lieutenant governor and as a candidate for governor to fully repudiate these types of insider deals by returning all of it, every last penny. While Denish has repeatedly denied having anything to do with the malfeasance, her argument is becoming less and less credible as a parade of Denish donors are exposed as central players in these acts against New Mexicans.
One of the most meaningful ways we can combat these types of deals going forward is with more transparency to ensure conflicts of interest and questionable deals have nowhere to hide and that they see the light of day. At the very least, Diane Denish has been completely complacent in fighting corruption, and for the last eight years, she voluntarily surrounded herself with and took money from the very people who have been at the center of the waste, fraud and abuse.
This is completely unacceptable. That is why I am calling on Diane Denish to donate all the funds she received from Malott’s company, Meyners & Company, as well as the employees of this firm, which is now embroiled in the middle of this controversy. So far, Denish has refused to do so, which should communicate a very clear message to voters: Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish believes she operates outside the rules that the rest of us must abide by.
Just the first step
And donating the funds is just the first step. The Richardson/Denish Administration should release the financial information of their appointees to powerful financial boards and commissions, such as the Board of Finance and the ERB, so that any additional conflicts of interest can be identified and scrutinized. This should include names and all relevant financial information, such as loans and other business interests. Some of the most powerful appointees in this administration are subject to the least amount of transparency and the current financial disclosure forms for financial board appointees are woefully inadequate, as these recent revelations have demonstrated.
In a Martinez Administration, everyone would be held to account, which is why I have a detailed plan to eliminate the corruption. As I proposed earlier this year, all appointments in my administration would be subject to comprehensive financial disclosure statements, which would be posted online for all to see.
Those who are found to have used their position to benefit themselves, their families or their business associates would be subject to harsher penalties and termination. Corruption is a very serious crime, and it is about time that our government recognizes that fact and holds itself to a higher standard. Abuse in government cannot be tolerated, and it will be terminated in a Martinez Administration.
Simply pleading ignorance of these crooked deals is unacceptable, and New Mexicans deserve better. The Richardson/Denish Administration has failed to take the bold steps required to sweep out the corruption running rampant under their roof. As governor, I am prepared to make bold changes, and I have laid out a comprehensive plan to accomplish the goal of ending corruption in state government.
Martinez is the Republican gubernatorial nominee and Doña Ana County district attorney. She has updated this column to reflect that the loan came from Marc Correra’s father, not Marc Correra himself.
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