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NMFA narrows CEO search to 2 candidates

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SANTA FE – The New Mexico Finance Authority, which has undergone big changes since being rocked last year by a fraudulent audit scandal, has narrowed its search for a new chief executive to two finalists.

One of the finalists for the NMFA job is Rob Perry, the chief administrative officer for the city of Albuquerque and a former state government Cabinet secretary.

The other is Robert Coalter, who currently serves as executive director of the Texas Public Finance Authority.

The NMFA board, which selected the two finalists from a pool of five candidates, will interview Perry and Coalter on Nov. 4. A decision is expected later that week.

“Both are exceptionally well-qualified,” NMFA board Chairwoman Nann Winter said of the two finalists.

The Finance Authority, which functions like a bank for local governments, had to postpone bond sales and restrict loans after it was discovered that the agency’s 2011 financial audit was forged. A former NMFA employee admitted he falsified the financial documents and ended up pleading guilty to forgery and securities fraud.

However, national credit rating agencies have since affirmed the NMFA’s top bond rating, and a special audit spearheaded by the state Auditor’s Office ultimately found no evidence of theft or embezzlement related to the 2011 audit.

John Gasparich has served as the Finance Authority’s interim CEO since August 2012, shortly after the falsified audit was discovered, but has said he is not seeking the permanent CEO position.

Before Gasparich, the chief executive job had been held by Rick May. May was fired by the NMFA board after the audit scandal, though he has claimed he was made to be a scapegoat.

It was unclear Thursday what the salary for the new CEO might be. As the Finance Authority’s CEO, May had received a $150,000 annual salary – the same amount being paid to Gasparich.

Both of the two finalists for the NMFA chief executive job have ample public sector experience, according to their resumes.

Before being named as Albuquerque’s chief administration officer in 2011, Perry had served as city attorney. He has also worked as a private practice attorney and as secretary of the state Department of Corrections from 1997 until 2002, among other jobs.

Meanwhile, Coalter has spent his career in Texas, including 15 years as assistant director to the state’s comptroller. He also spent time working in the Texas Department of Insurance.

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