More of Martinez’s crony capitalism exposed

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A report last week announced that, “New Mexico’s economy is stagnant, largely because of the state’s reputation for corruption and crony capitalism and an environment that fosters pay to play behavior.”

Now, there’s yet another story about Susana Martinez’s shady dealings, this time about her using her political power to bail out a big campaign donor. Crony capitalism at its finest worst.

New Mexico’s reputation has taken a hit in many ways under Martinez’s administration, but perceptions of deep-seated corruption have been present from her very first day in office. Perceptions turned into proven reality starting last year as Martinez’s Tax and Revenue secretary began to be investigated, her friend Dianna Duran became a convicted felon, and her top-advisor came under FBI scrutiny.

A story in today’s Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Martinez is backing a bill currently in the legislature that would use tax-payer money to investigate how to clean up an abandoned salt cavern on the verge of collapsing in Carlsbad.santa-fe-new-mexican-logo

Why is there an abandoned salt cavern in Carlsbad that’s about to collapse? Because the company who owns it went bankrupt before remediating the problem.

And who owned the company? Major Susana Martinez campaign donors that gave her over $20,000 between 2010 and 2014.

The takeaway: if you give enough money to Susana Martinez you can create a potential environmental catastrophe and she’ll make sure you get bailed out. Crony capitalism at it’s finest worst.

From the Santa Fe New Mexican:

House Bill 112, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, proposes the formation of a committee charged solely with preventing this brine well in Carlsbad from collapsing, and it seeks $150,000 for staffing and research. Actual remediation costs for the well are estimated at $25 million or more. The House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee voted Wednesday to pass the bill on to the next House committee. A mirror bill introduced by Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal, will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee next week.

The mine had been owned and operated by New Mexico-based I & W Inc. since 1995, but the company filed for bankruptcy in 2011 before completing any remediation work. On Jan. 25, Martinez asked the Legislature to consider the bill, citing it as a matter of public safety.

Many lawmakers agree that action to avoid a major collapse in Carlsbad is needed, but some Democrats question whether Martinez is backing the bill to further separate the company and its officials, who were significant donors to her gubernatorial campaigns, from taking responsibility for the damage it caused.

Lowell Irby, a pharmacist in Artesia and the former president of the now-dissolved I & W Inc., along with his son Eugene Irby, the company’s former secretary, and another family member contributed a combined $19,750 to Gov. Martinez’s campaigns in 2010 and 2014. Lowell also contributed $1,000 to SusanaPAC, the governor’s political action committee.

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