SANTA FE – The state Senate voted Monday to confirm two of Gov. Susana Martinez’s appointees to the New Mexico Finance Authority board, which has come under legislative scrutiny this year after a scandal over a fraudulent audit.
Senators voted 34-3 to confirm Nann Winter, an Albuquerque attorney, who was appointed by Martinez to serve as the NMFA board chairwoman in July 2012, just days after the falsified audit was publicly announced.
Earlier Monday, while testifying to members of the Senate Rules Committee, Winter said there had been an attitude of “complacency” among top managers at the NMFA that allowed the fraudulent audit to originally go undetected.
Her work on the agency’s board was lauded by interim NMFA Chief Executive John Gasparich, who said Winter helped steer the agency through the audit scandal’s fallout.
However, Senate Democratic Whip Tim Keller of Albuquerque, one of the three senators who voted against Winter’s confirmation, raised questions about the various state government contracts held by the law firm that employes Winter.
“I think the board should probably be chaired by someone who doesn’t have any financial interest in the NMFA,” said Keller, who is sponsoring legislation that would overhaul the Finance Authority’s board.
Meanwhile, the Senate voted 36-0 to confirm the reappointment of NMFA board member Blake Curtis, a former state lawmaker.
The Finance Authority’s forged 2011 audit caused several NMFA executives to lose their jobs, while also prompting the agency to delay loans to cities and postpone a $40 million bond sale.
Meanwhile, the agency’s former controller, Greg Campbell, pleaded guilty in November 2012 to three felony counts – two counts of forgery and one count of securities fraud – and sentenced to five years of probation for falsifying the audit.
However, the Finance Authority, which functions like a bank for local governments, last month removed temporary limits on the size of certain public loans. Bonds to fund any newly approved loans will probably be issued in April or May, according to the NMFA.
— This article appeared on page C3 of the Albuquerque Journal