SANTA FE ― Career staff auditors in the New Mexico State Auditor’s office recently requested routine procurement documents from the Office of the Attorney General after a tip was phoned into the OSA’s fraud hotline.
The response from the AG’s office was to “announce” a frivolous partisan investigation through the news media.
The office of the State Auditor opened a case in October after a tip through the OSA’s fraud hotline. Auditors, as a matter of routine, requested documents from the Attorney General’s office at the time and to date, the AG’s office has failed to provide those documents within 21 days, which is a violation of the State Audit Act.
“State Agencies that fail to provide requested documents are handled in the same manner,” State Auditor Wayne Johnson said.
“With regard to these frivolous and partisan so-called ‘investigations’, this is clearly an attempt to intimidate and to continue to conceal documents that have been lawfully requested by auditors at the OSA. Retaliation seems to be a pattern when dealing with the AG’s office,” Johnson said.
The AG’s office has not notified Johnson about any investigation. Those claims only surfaced after Johnson’s office filed the request for the subpoena.
The documents requested by the OSA are subject to IPRA and the Audit Act and should be available not just to the OSA, but to every New Mexican or member of the media.
“Their refusal to provide these documents is a clear red flag,” Johnson said. “Instead of being completely transparent and forthright, the Attorney General responded by launching a partisan investigation based on partisan attacks intended to distract from his own non-compliance with state law. This is particularly troubling coming from the state’s top law enforcement official.”
The inquiry from the OSA involves a state contract awarded by the AG’s office to a close personal friend’s law firm. At this point, Johnson says there is no indication of wrong-doing, as the inquiry is still underway.
Incoming State Auditor Brian Colon has now announced an “investigation” of his own. The OSA inquiry involves two close personal friends of Colon’s, including Balderas and the law firm that previously employed Colon.
“It’s unfortunate that Colon is attempting to interfere with an inquiry that involves two of his best friends,” Johnson said. “There can be no public confidence here in Colon’s ability to independently investigate anything regarding this issue, or to follow-up on staff work already completed by career auditors.”