SANTA FE — Rick May, fired as CEO of the New Mexico Finance Authority after a scandal involving one of his subordinates, filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming Gov. Susana Martinez had not complied with the state public records law.
The suit, in state district court in Santa Fe, alleges that Martinez and Tom Clifford, cabinet secretary of Department of Finance and Administration, had refused to comply with the law.
May's lawyer said the requested records pertain to communications by Martinez's and Clifford's offices before and after senior managers of the finance authority discovered a phony audit in 2011.
"After waiting 174 days for any response from the governor and DFA, we have received nothing but excuses," said Steven Farber, May's attorney.
Martinez's press secretary, Enrique Knell, said May's lawsuit was unreasonable, given his demands.
"... We've been communicating regularly with May's attorney and have been processing the reams of documents responsive to their 13-page request," Knell said. "... It seeks records over a period exceeding two years and has 36 separate parts, each with multiple sub-parts."
Pamela Cason, records custodian for the governor, previously responded to May.
"We are reviewing documents that are responsive to your request, but due to the broad and burdensome nature of your request, the office will need additional time to respond" as is allowed by law, Cason wrote in an email.
Cason said May would receive some sort of response by Oct. 18.
The finance authority board fired May from his $150,000-a-year job in September 2012.
At the time, May, 59, described himself as "a scapegoat."
He was the top official at the finance authority when controller Greg Campbell concocted a fake audit that later was made public. The finance authority bankrolls public projects such as roads and schools through bonds.
Subsequent audits revealed no theft by Campbell or other employees. Campbell later pleaded guilty to three felonies and received probation.
May said Campbell on 14 occasions misled board members and senior managers.
May's attorney complained about how state government reacted after learning of the fraud.
"The facts surrounding the motivations behind how the NMFA fake audit was investigated have never been fully disclosed to my client or to the public," Farber said.
He said release of the records May requested could show why Martinez's administration "hijacked an independent investigation" that was to be led by a former federal prosecutor. Hiring a former prosecutor was May's idea, but the finance authority board rejected it.
Farber complained that the investigation was turned over to State Auditor Hector Balderas and Daniel Tanaka, who was securities director for the state Regulation and Licensing Department.
Farber said Balderas "had considerable conflicts of interest" and Tanaka was "a biased gubernatorial appointee."
Milan Simonich, Santa Fe Bureau chief of Texas-New Mexico Newspapers, can be reached at 505-820-6898. His blog is at nmcapitolreport.com.