The Associated Press, Chris Ramirez
Updated: November 18, 2019 05:09 PM
Created: November 18, 2019 03:42 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico State Auditor Brian Colon says around $2.7 million in secret settlements with appointees under former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez were an “abuse of power.”
Colon said Monday a recent audit into past sealed agreements during the Martinez Administration found that 12 lacked proper documentation, transparency, and investigations. He says the secret settlements appeared to be protecting the former governor’s “political legacies” and her political agendas rather than taxpayers.
Colon's investigation found the state never took efforts to determine if the claims were truthful.
Colon pointed to a two -paragraph letter that was written by attorney Sam Bregman on behalf of a former member of Gov. Martinez's security detail, Ruben Maynes.
Bregman stated that Maynes was the victim of harassment and retaliation. Colon argued that the letter alone, with no legally-required investigation into the matter, resulted in the state paying Maynes $200,000.
Colon claimed that payment and others were shielded from the public.
The audit follows revelations about secret settlements of lawsuits against state officials under the Martinez Administration. Some of those settlements were sealed until after her departure from office at the end of 2018.
A spokesperson for Martinez told KOB 4 that he was unable to reach the former governor for comment.
Colon says he forwarded the audit to the state Attorney General’s Office to review.
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