SANTA FE, N.M. — An independent audit of the office of New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has taken note of an off-the-books fund used for social events, and recommended policy changes even though its expenses are off limits from review.
State Auditor Tim Keller highlighted the results Tuesday of the independent audit that shows excess balances in the governor’s so-called contingency fund are rolled over from year to year without oversight or legal justification.
A spokesman for the Republican governor says no audit has raised the issue before and that the governor’s office follows longstanding precedent in not reverting money to the state general fund until the governor leaves office. Contingency funds, the governor’s office noted in its response to the audit, predate New Mexico’s statehood in 1912.
Public accounting firm Axiom LLC was chosen by the governor’s office to perform the audit for fiscal year 2015. It made a note that the contingency fund is kept in a separate bank account that is not included in the balance sheet of the governor’s office — and is not subject to audit.
At the same time, Axiom said an excess balance of $66,000 was rolled over into the current fiscal year, and the firm recommended changes that would return unspent funds after each fiscal year to New Mexico’s general fund.
Keller, a Democratic former state lawmaker, wrote a letter to Martinez earlier this month to say that appropriations at other agencies revert to the general fund at year’s end unless otherwise specified, and that the governor’s contingency fund also should do so.