State treasurer spends more than $6,800 in hotels for 8 conferences
February 16, 2017 10:30 PM
New Mexico is broke and elected officials know it. As lawmakers attempt to appropriate dollars that don’t exist, agency budgets are on the chopping block.
“We smoked through that 10 percent which we classified as reserve,” said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.
“Basically, it’s about as bad as it can get,” added Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs.
"We've cut as far as we can cut,” said Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City. “I think we've cut too much. The impact that we've had are going to be felt for years."
It’s the New Mexico treasurer’s job to serve as the state’s banker. He receives and deposits state monies, manages state investments and keeps track of budget surpluses and deficits.
Treasurer Tim Eichenberg assumed office in January 2015. He and the New Mexico Senate Finance Committee have been urging agencies to tighten their belts.
4 Investigates found that over 14 months, Eichenberg attended eight professional conferences that were held in Malibu, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Washington, D.C.; Boston; New Orleans; Seattle; and Providence, Rhode Island. He stayed at the Four Seasons Westlake Village, the Omni and the Mandarin Oriental. The hotels alone cost taxpayers $6,853.34.
The conferences included the Certificate in Achievement in Public Plan Policy, National Association of State Treasurers, the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers, and the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies.
In total, Eichenberg spent 34 days outside of the Land of Enchantment.
“The cost isn't as big of a burden as time,” Eichenberg said.
4 Investigates asked Eichenberg how the professional conferences benefited New Mexico taxpayers.
“I think that when I do my job well it benefits all of New Mexico,” he said. “I don't attend every conference.”
Eichenberg said as a new state treasurer, he’s learning how to grow New Mexico’s investments. He served as the Bernalillo County treasurer in 1974, was a state senator in 2009 and served as the New Mexico State Property tax director under Gov. Bill Richardson in 2004.
He has also been a property tax consultant, certified appraiser, contractor and real estate broker.
4 Investigates asked surrounding states how many professional conferences their treasurers and comptrollers attended since January 2015.
- New Mexico Treasurer Tim Eichenberg -- 8
- Wyoming Treasurer Mark Gordon -- 8
- Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller -- 7
- Utah Treasurer David Damschen -- 7
- Kansas Treasurer Ron Estes -- 6
- Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz -- 5
- Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar -- 1
- Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton -- 1
4 Investigates asked members of the New Mexico Senate Finance Committee what they thought of Eichenberg’s travels.
"I wasn't aware of any of the travel there but again, I think it goes back to common sense,” Morales said.
“We have the opportunity to travel to conferences that are very helpful in developing policy,” Kernan said.
"There's merit to travel. You can network with other groups,” Smith said.
Updated: February 16, 2017 10:30 PM
Created: February 16, 2017 11:11 AM
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