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…
Whistleblower charges agency ignored its request for records
An attorney for a high-profile whistleblower charged Monday that a state agency has since January resisted handing over e-mails and other documents that show the state’s former state investment officer pressured firms to hire a politically connected New Mexico man.
But a spokesman for the State Investment Council said Monday that the agency has not ignored the request, and has already handed over thousands of documents.
Whistleblower Frank Foy, a former investment officer with the Educational Retirement Board, may not have gotten every thing he wanted, SIC spokesman Charles Wollman said, the council’s top priority right now is to supply documents to federal authorities, investigators and regulatory bodies, all of whom are scrutinizing the agency in separate inquiries.
Victor Marshall, Foy’s attorney, said Monday that the SIC had yet to turn over records he and Foy sought through the state’s public records law. Marshall is demanding that the council release the records and put his client on the agenda of this Thursday’s State Investment Council meeting.
The records Foy requested in January are part of a lawsuit in which Foy has alleged that he was pressured to award contracts and make investments that rewarded political campaign contributors of Gov. Bill Richardson.
Among those named in the January records request is former State Investment Officer Gary Bland, who resigned in October under a cloud of suspicion, including a belief by some SIC board members that Bland had pressured financial firms to hire Marc Correra.
“It’s our understanding that there are e-mails and other documents in which Bland pressured people to hire Correra,” Marshall told The Independent.
Marc Correra shared in $22 million in fees from New Mexico investment deals over several years in which he worked as a third-party marketer.
Third-party agents — individuals who are paid the finders’ fees — are paid not by the state but by managers who try to persuade the state, or any one of several agencies that make certain investments, to put money into their funds.
Correra is the son of Anthony Correra, a friend and fundraiser for Richardson.
A call by The Independent to Correra’s attorney, Sam Bregman, was not returned Monday.
“We also know that the documents were within our request back in January and that’s one of the reasons we were stonewalled,” Marshall said Monday.
The SIC wasn’t stonewalling Foy and Marshall, Wollman said. It’s that Marshall’s January records request was so overly broad that it wasn’t easy to respond to.
“It basically requested every document that relates to Gary Bland; that is basically every document at SIC,” Wollman said. “That’s literally millions of documents.”
To be sure, the State Investment Council is being asked by many sources to provide documents these days.
The SIC is a player in a ever-widening investment scandal that has led New Mexico’s former investment adviser, Saul Meyer of Aldus Equity, to plead guilty to criminal charges. A California man with ties to New Mexico investment deals also has pleaded guilty.
But the SIC’s multiple obligations don’t explain the 11-month lag in Foy and Marshall’s receiving the records they want, one open government advocate said Monday.
“We think it’s OK for an agency to get clarification and negotiate,” Sarah Welsh, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government told The Independent.
“But it’s been 11 months. It’s starting to look like a tactic,” she said before adding: “We want to give them the benefit of the doubt.”