¡Qué escándalo! Sex, lies and secret contracts: The life of Jon Barela, Pat Rogers and a state department gone wild
Another week, another Martinez administration insider comes forward with new allegations of insider deals and staff gone wild. Sexual misconduct, off-the-books tax breaks to benefit the man charged with issuing them and no-bid contracts worth millions to a firm run by the governor’s campaign lawyer. Otherwise known as just another day at the office for the state’s Economic Development Department.
Once again, Mother Jones’s Andy Kroll comes with a new story of insiders turning on the Martinez administration. In a 22 page whistleblower lawsuit, former employees of the state’s Economic Development Department (EDD) allege serious misconduct by top administration officials, and the governor herself.
You can read the full Mother Jones story here. Our take on the top claims to watch:
A company connected to the governor’s former campaign attorney, who also happens to be the Republican Party’s National Committeeman (and former National GOP executive committee member), was being paid for work done without a contract:
After the payments were discovered, employees were directed to work up a contract to cover for the violation of the state’s procurement code:
Real Time Solutions, the company in question, is well-known for Republican connections. Julie Rogers, the wife of Pat Rogers, is listed as employee in multiple online sources.
SIDEBAR: Real Time Solutions originally began work with the state under the previous administration. But since Martinez took office, the company has been awarded more than $3.2 million in work across multiple agencies:
ProgressNowNM readers will remember Pat Rogers. He was the Republican lobbyist and inside advisor to the Martinez administration who resigned from his high-profile and high-power job as vice president of one of the state’s largest law firms after we brought national attention to emails where he suggested that meeting with the state’s Native American pueblos was disrespectful to the legacy of General Custer, a notorious 19th century Indian killer.
Off-the-Books Tax Breaks
EDD whistleblowers also allege that Jon Barela, Economic Development Secretary, directed more than $100,000 in special tax breaks to investors who bought into his company, Cerelink. At the time he was appointed by Martinez to run the department, Cerelink owed the state approximately $134,000, the lawsuit alleges. Tax breaks totaling that amount appeared in internal EDD spreadsheets but not in other state databases where they would have been seen by the public or other employees.
Other allegations include claims that employees were directed to solicit money from Mexican business owners for a marketing “slush fund” for border development and sexual improprieties by Barela and another employee.
Watch this story closely as the administration tries to push back.