Thursday, August 26, 2021

Look Who’s Got A Job--Sort Of; Latest Move Of Ex-Guv Martinez Is Filled With Politics And Rich Irony  

Look who’s finally got a job--sort of. 

Former Gov. Susana Martinez, on the unemployment line since leaving the Guv's office in 2019, has landed a slot on the board of directors of The Daniels Fund, a charitable foundation known most notably for its scholarship program in four western states, including New Mexico.

The board post comes with a stipend in the neighborhood of $50,000 a year, according to a Senior Alligator who checked the Fund's IRS paperwork. Such boards generally meet four or five times a year so there's not much heavy lifting for directors. 

Previously Republican Martinez was named to the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, established by former Florida GOP Governor Jeb Bush. However, that position did not command any compensation.

How did the former two term governor, who left office amid plummeting polls, sensational lawsuits revolving around her personal life and who has been anything but a hit on the job market come up with the Daniels deal? Pretty easily. 

Hanna Skandera, who was appointed public education secretary by Martinez, was named president of The Daniels Fund in late 2020. She also serves on the board of directors. Voilà! Susana ends up on the board. (Skandera served in the Jeb Bush administration before being brought to NM by Martinez.)

Never mind that Skandera and Martinez, 62, were notorious for fighting with the public schools and teachers unions and favoring charter and private schools over their public counterparts. 

The politics is blatant and the irony is rich. 

The Daniels Fund, now valued at $1.7 billion, was established upon the death of cable TV pioneer and conservative Democrat Bill Daniels, who was born in Colorado but spent his early years in SE NM. Bill was the uncle of former Lt. Governor Diane Denish who ran and lost the governorship to new board member and Republican Martinez in 2010. 

Daniels died in 2000 and Denish, whose father Jack Daniels of Hobbs was Bill's brother, held major influence with the Fund for a number of years but no longer. Now she gets to watch Martinez and company divvy up the prized scholarships and other charitable donations. That's a big ouch.

As for Bill Daniels, his legacy of helping his fellow man is secure. But if you hear about a bunch of money from the Fund going for "public school reform" and the like, well, that could be Hanna and Susana playing around in their new gilded cage.

This is the home of New Mexico politics. 

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