I wrote a press release last week for Independent Source PAC. It included this line: “The Downs deal is politics at its worst.”
Here’s the thing about people who write press releases: We don’t always believe what we’re putting down, we just want our bosses to be happy. “The Downs deal is politics at its worst” felt to me more like a slogan than a fact. Spokespeople strive for catchy little sayings you’ll remember, not honesty. “Politics at its worst”? That’s gold, Jerry!
The thing is, though, that in this case it fits. The Downs deal really, truly is politics at its worst. That argument can be made because it’s purely about money and political favoritism.
Follow me here, because we don’t have to go very far to find what really matters. Businessmen from out of state get to know our governor, her staff and their friends. Then they give Gov. Martinez a lot of money for her campaign. They give her even more money after she’s elected. We’re talking five-figure donations.
What do they get for that money? A big, fat state contract. They get to build a massive race track and casino and run it as the New Mexico Fairgrounds over the next 25 years. Total net profit, when all is said and done, will be more than $1 billion.
The people around Gov. Martinez get jobs for their wives at different state agencies, jobs that pay salaries of around 90,000 taxpayer dollars. The guy on the state fair commission who cast the deciding vote in awarding the Downs deal knows all about Martinez’s generosity, because his daughter-in-law was payed $29,000 over four months to work for Susana PAC, raising money.
Everyone involved in the contract is connected, business-wise, and then there are players literally related to each other. A lot of the folks making money here are good friends. The few responsible officials who want to vet the deal find themselves frozen out or stonewalled by Martinez’s good soldiers, who consider loyalty to the cause more important than good government.
A Republican, appointed by Martinez, resigned from the state’s Board of Finance last year over this deal. Then he told the newspaper Martinez met with him to say she “would take it personally” if he criticized her staff’s actions in making the deal. Gangster. Hard to believe she’d care what he said if the contract wasn’t totally corrupt, right?
It’s just sad that this is what our powerful people actually spend their time doing. That sucks. If you’re like me, you see huge problems in America and feel powerless to do anything about them. Martinez and her extremely well-paid team could spend their time on the taxpayer’s clock working smartly to solve major problems. Instead, they do this garbage.
It’s happening everywhere in state government: timely campaign contributions are turning into business-friendly policies or giant contracts. The work happening behind the curtain looks nothing like what is on stage.
Please, watch the KOB report on this: http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S2570601.shtml?cat=500. Don’t worry about any of the lawyerly stuff and just consider the governor’s response at the very end. It has absolutely nothing to do with what we’re saying. It’s trash. These are the people who run our state. This is what they do.