SANTA FE – A secretly made recording in which a high-paid adviser outlined New Mexico’s pay-to-play climate in state investments has been in the hands of Attorney General Gary King, according to the State Investment Council.
The expletive-laced recording of a meeting in which Aldus Equity founding partner Saul Meyer described to his partners how investments were ordered up by Richardson administration insiders was played during a public meeting of the SIC on Tuesday.
Meyer, who has pleaded guilty to defrauding New York’s state pension fund, told his partners in the 2006 meeting in Dallas that Gov. Bill Richardson insiders Anthony and Marc Correra were calling the shots.
Marc Correra shared in more than $22 million in so-called “finder’s fees” paid by companies that got investment deals from the SIC and the state Educational Retirement Board. Meyer has admitted he pushed investment deals to benefit political players even if the deals were not good for New Mexico.
Lawsuits have put the estimated losses from the bad investments at between $150 million and $200 million.
Victor Marshall, the attorney for former ERB chief investment officer Frank Foy, filed transcripts of the secretly recorded conversation last week in Foy’s lawsuit against the Correras, Aldus Equity, former State Investment Officer Gary Bland and others filed under New Mexico’s Fraud Against Taxpayers law.
In the recorded conversation, Meyer described Foy, who objected to some of the investments, as an obstacle who needed to be replaced.
SIC members on Tuesday showed no outward emotion while the audio file was played. At least one council member said he had already read a transcript of the recording, which he described as “flat offensive.”
“It just confirmed there was corruption in the process,” said Leonard Lee Rawson, a former state senator from Las Cruces. “It really doesn’t give us anything that we didn’t already have.”
The State Investment Office already knew about the secretly recorded meeting, said SIC spokesman Charles Wollmann.
“The SIC is aware of the tape or transcript produced by (Foy’s attorney), and it is in the hands of the proper authorities,” he told the Journal.
Those authorities include King’s office, Wollmann said. However, he could not say how long the SIC and the Attorney General’s Office have had the recording.
A phone call and email to a spokesman for King were not immediately answered Tuesday.
With the Foy lawsuit pending, the Attorney General’s Office and a New York law firm filed a separate lawsuit in May 2011 on behalf of the SIC. That suit also is aimed at recovering state investment money from pay-to-play deals.
In the audio recording played Tuesday, Meyer can be heard explaining his version of how things work in New Mexico – where the company was paid $1.5 million a year to advise the State Investment Council and the ERB.
“To think that Anthony (Correra) and Marc (Correra) don’t have a stranglehold over this thing is crazy,” Meyer can be heard telling his partners in the Dallas meeting. “Because the governor runs this sh*t and they run the governor.”
Anthony Correra was a close political and economic adviser to Richardson, a Democrat who served two terms as governor and who sought his party’s presidential nomination.
Marc Correra, is Anthony Correra’s son.
Meyer pleaded guilty in 2009 to a felony fraud count in New York for paying kickbacks in exchange for business with that state’s pension fund.
As part of his plea deal, Meyer agreed to help authorities in New Mexico with their own investigation.
A federal grand jury and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have collected evidence in the case, but no charges have been filed.
Gov. Susana Martinez, the SIC’s chairwoman, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. A spokesman for the first-term governor said Martinez was busy meeting with lawmakers and constituents about legislation on the table for the current 30-day session.
“The governor is very concerned about the pattern of impropriety and alleged corrupt activity that occurred with regard to state investments during the previous administration and these recordings serve to bolster those concerns,” Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said.
“She wants to ensure the state is working to recover taxpayer money that was lost as a result of poor investments as quickly as possible and believes this is a process that should be continually evaluated.”
A Richardson spokesman has not responded to emails on the subject.