I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Gary Bland responds to Frank Foy lawsuit
Frank Foy’s lawsuit alleging a pay-to-play scheme is an attempt to benefit from the “near collapse” of global financial markets and the resulting “devastation” to some of New Mexico’s investments, says one of the suit’s primary targets, State Investment Council Officer Gary Bland.
The State Investment Council, headed up by Bland, and the state’s Education Retirement Board invested a combined total of $90 million with Chicago-based Vanderbilt Capital in 2006. That investment ended up being essentially worthless.
Foy, a former investment officer at the ERB, says he was pressured by board chair Bruce Malott to make the investment in Vanderbilt, and that Vanderbilt’s subsequent donation of $15,500 a couple of months later to Gov. Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign shows that the investments were made in exchange for campaign contributions. Foy’s suit names Richardson’s former chief of staff, Dave Contarino, as the person who was directing Bland and Malott to ensure that the investments happened.
If his lawsuit is successful in civil court, Foy will get a percentage of the proceeds recouped for the state — the result of a whistle-blower law passed by the Legislature just a few years ago.
Accused parties have denied the charges, saying that Foy is a disgruntled former employee who was fired after being found guilty on three charges of sexual harassment. And Malott says Foy’s suit was an attempt to “exploit headlines” coming on the heels of a federal pay-to-play investigation of Richardson’s administration, given a “personal vendetta” Foy has after being fired by Malott.
Now, according to the Associated Press late last week, Bland says that Foy’s lawsuit is a “cynical” attempt to profit from financial distress, and he details his own credentials to make the case that he wasn’t hired for political reasons:
“This lawsuit is a cynical attempt… to make money out of the near collapse of worldwide financial markets and the resultant devastation that event has caused to some of the investments held on behalf of the people of New Mexico,” Bland wrote.
… The response cites Bland’s “unblemished career as a fiduciary,” including 16 years as vice president of trust investment at the Boeing Co., where he oversaw $62 billion in employee trust funds.
Bland, also pleading ignorance of Vanderbilt’s campaign contributions to Richardson, says the Vanderbilt investments were “scrutinized, approved in the normal course and ultimately made because of Vanderbilt Capital’s experience.”
The AP reports that, according to Bland, that experience included $16 billion in assets, 45 institutional clients and a management team with 60 years of combined experience and a strong performance record.
Bland was hired by Richardson in 2003 after retiring from Boeing in 2001. In a press release announcing the hiring of Bland, Richardson said he had “… ambitious plans for the State Investment Office, and I wanted a leader who will take the office in a new direction… I got exactly what I wanted in Gary Bland.”