Former Spaceport America CEO Dan Hicks
ALBUQUERQUE — State Auditor Brian Colón has released a report regarding alleged financial wrongdoing at Spaceport America (Spaceport) by the former Executive Director and former Finance Director/Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
The report, issued by an independent forensic accounting firm contracted by the Economic Development Department (EDD) as part of an agency-initiated engagement to investigate the allegations, details a severe breakdown of internal controls that resulted in possible waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.
Former CEO Dan Hicks has been on administrative leave since June after former CFO Zach De Gregorio submitted a complaint alleging Hicks had created “a toxic environment where there is no longer adequate internal controls at the NM Spaceport Authority”.
Hicks was officially fired Friday afternoon.
“It is critical that management at all levels of government support ethical behavior. Setting an honorable tone at the top by establishing and following internal controls is essential,” Auditor Colón said. “People in positions of power more easily have the opportunity to misuse and abuse their authority. It is crucial we hold people in power accountable. The tone at the top must be transparent and committed to honesty, integrity, and accountability.”
The report highlights numerous accounts of failure to follow or abide by established internal controls, and potential override of controls by the Executive Director and Finance Director/CFO .
“I’ve said it time and time again, tone at the top is one of the most critical components in ethical leadership. I applaud the Board, Secretary Keyes, and Governor Lujan Grisham for setting that example. Their transparency in bringing this to our attention and taking immediate action to address the alleged wrongdoing is a positive example of transparency, accountability, and excellence in government,” concluded Auditor Colón.
New Mexicans concerned about potential instances of waste, fraud, and abuse should contact the Office of the State Auditor. Reports may be made anonymously at www.saonm.org or by calling 1-866-OSA-FRAUD, or speaking to an investigator by calling 505.476.3800.