Ex-CEO Rick May, who was fired last year in the wake of a scandal over a fake audit, brought a lawsuit in state district court in Santa Fe against the governor and Finance and Administration Secretary Tom Clifford.
Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell called it a "frivolous" lawsuit and said the administration had offered to release documents in batches while continuing to review thousands of documents covered by May's request
The lawsuit seeks damages and a court order requiring the release of requested documents, including email and other correspondence between administration officials, NMFA board members and others from 2011 until April of this year,
May was fired by the authority's governing board, whose members included Clifford, after the discovery that a financial audit had been faked and distributed to potential investors.
The authority's former comptroller, Greg Campbell, later pleaded guilty to forgery and securities fraud. A state auditor's report determined that Campbell acted alone and took no money.
The Finance Authority provides low-cost financing for capital projects by cities, counties, schools and other New Mexico governmental organizations. It operates independently from any state agency and functions like a bank for governmental infrastructure.
May joined the Finance Authority as CEO in September 2011, after serving as secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration after Martinez took office. Clifford replaced May in the cabinet-level position.
"After waiting 174 days for any response from the governor and DFA, we have received nothing but excuses," said May's lawyer, Steven Farber. "For the administration that claims to be the most transparent in New Mexico history, the lack of transparency is outrageous. Not one email, text message, memo, document, or even a piece of paper has been made available for public inspection."
A DFA official told Farber in a July letter the agency had identified a large number of documents in response to the records request but it could take weeks or months to release all of them because they needed to be reviewed by the agency's lawyer.
"Frankly, the motivation behind this lawsuit is suspect, as 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 in a statement.
May was never accused of any wrongdoing, but the auditor's report said Campbell was able to carry out the forgery because the authority's managers and governing board were "asleep at the wheel." May has maintained that Campbell lied to him and other senior staff about the preparation of the audit.
Since his firing, May has sought to restore his reputation and his public records request was part of that effort.
May contends the Martinez administration has planned to scale back or dismantle the authority, which arranges financing for public projects that otherwise could generate business for private firms.
Administration-backed legislation to impose state oversight of the authority's budget and accounting failed in the Legislature earlier this year.
The lawsuit said the failure to disclose documents prevents May from determining whether administration officials "played a significant role in creating and continuing a biased 'investigative' process" for the fraudulent audit.
May objects that the authority's governing board scrapped his initial plan as CEO to hire a former federal prosecutor to investigate how the audit was faked. The board instead decided that a similar legal and accounting probe would be handled through the state auditor's office. Board members maintained that would ensure the independence of the review, but May disagreed.
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