Thursday, August 08, 2013

Susana: Trying To Keep Her Nose Clean For '14, But It's Getting A Bit Dicey, Plus: More Political Connections In Behavioral Health Drama, And: Light Shed On NM Koch Brothers Meet  

The corruption theme was instrumental in electing Republican Susana Martinez Governor in 2010.This photo posted on Facebook by ABQ GOP State Senator Lisa Torraco neatly sums up their argument--that Dems are responsible for a Third World corruption narrative that has held the state back.

Can Susana ride the corruption horse again in '14? Well, she might, but she is having trouble keeping her own nose clean now that she has the reigns of government.

There's that controversial 25 year racino lease awarded by the administration to the ABQ Downs that is under investigation by the FBI. And there's that statement from ex-NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates that he is no longer skeptical of allegations of corruption in the administration. And now there is the behavioral health drama.


Was politics involved in the suspension of Medicaid payments to 15 New Mexico nonprofits who were then replaced by five Arizona providers? The AZ firms are getting contracts worth up to $18 million. That's for starters.

The administration says the NM nonprofits were suspended because an out-of-state audit showed there was cause to believe that they were ripping off Medicaid and that they had no choice but to suspend payments to them. The attorney general is now investigating, but the audit isn't being released.

We revealed yesterday that Tuscon, AZ automotive mogul and prominent Republican donor Jim Click has deep ties to the Arizona behavioral health community and that as recently as May threw a fund-raiser for Governor Martinez. Now more from a reliable Alligator:

Martinez went to Tuscon to meet Click on December 2, 2009. Click automotive later gave her a $5,000 contribution. (The link to that contribution is here.)

La Frontera CEO Dan Raineri sits on the board of Linkages, the nonprofit founded by Click that provides employment opportunities for the disabled. La Frontera of Arizona has received a $4.75 million NM behavioral health contract. It is one of the five Arizona providers brought in.

(In a first draft Wednesday, we had reader Greg Lennes reporting that Click also sits on the board of directors of La Frontera. He does not.)

In the 2012 election cycle Click and his family gave over $450,000 to a variety of GOP candidates, including Mitt Romney.


This is all grist for the mill for our reader/sleuths. Another reader gets into that Journal report based on leaks from the secret audit-- that the heads of Teambuilders--one of the nonprofits suspended from doing business--raked in $1.5 million in salary and other income from the nonprofit. He calls himself our "mental health Alligator:

The Journal reported that the Freedle's made close to $1.5 million per year. According to the Form 990 sent in to the IRS by Teambuilders for 2012, they made a combined salary of $428,913 from Teambuilders and a total combined salary of $167,333 from other organizations. for a total of $596,246 for 2012. According to the form 990 for 2011, the total was $626,398.

According to the Secretary of State's office, they have also made political contributions to (ABQ Dem State) Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, who is leading the charge to call in the Federal government to examine the audit that led to the suspensions of the NM nonprofits.

Martinez may be politically connected to the Arizona nonprofits, but those opposing what happened to the NM providers are also politically connected to the providers.

Deep and thorough investigative reporting will probably reveal that it is all politically connected. Unfortunately, those who pay the price for all of this are the clients served and the people of New Mexico.

I would encourage those doing the investigating to look at every form 990 the individual providers have filed. Look at who has the big salaries, and then cross-reference it with political connections and contributions.

Not a bad idea, mental health Gator. Cross check it all. But state senators getting contributions is one thing, a Governor--whether it be Richardson or Martinez--is another. The chief executive has the power to decide who ultimately gets the contracts or has them suspended.


It took the national press--the Politico--to shed more light on the secret Koch brothers meeting conducted this past week at the posh Hyatt Tamaya resort near Bernalillo and attended by Governor Martinez:

Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez secretly spoke to wealthy donors at the Koch brothers’ recently concluded summer gathering on the outskirts of Albuquerque. The 2012 vice presidential candidate and No. 2 House Republican are return participants to the twice-annual seminar, which also drew wealthy donors and conservative nonprofit leaders including American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks.

Martinez has done her best to separate herself form the ultra-conservatives in her GOP. Hanging with the Koch brothers and trying to keep it secret doesn't exactly help that aspect of her image making.


On the passing of Earlene Roberts of Lovington, the former state House Minority Whip, southern GOP Congressman Pearce said:

Earlene was a good friend and I was honored to serve alongside her in the New Mexico Legislature. I have many great memories of working together—she was my mentor during my first year in the legislature, and became a friend and role model. Earlene was never afraid to do the right thing, and was always eager to serve New Mexicans and improve our great state. She will be deeply missed by her many friends and the countless lives she touched—her family is in my prayers.

Former NM GOP Chairman John Lattauzio also eulogized Roberts, 77, who died Tuesday of cancer:

Joe, The loss of Earlene Roberts saddens those who knew her. A highly principled legislator, she played a large role in the growth and respect for the Republican Party of New Mexico through the 90’s. She always worked for her constituents and all New Mexicans. My prayers and sympathy go out to her family and all who loved her.


We had Dem State Treasurer candidate Pat Padilla working as "deputy treasurer" in the Bernalillo County Treasurer's Office. We are told he is on contract to the office, but does not work as an employee there.

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