New Mexico governor spends social fund mainly on food, drink
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez spent $58,268 last year from an unaudited fund for social obligations, mostly on food and drinks.
In response to a public records request, the state Department of Finance and Administration on Thursday provided a summary of spending in 2017 from the so-called contingency fund.
Martinez this month signed legislation to provide greater scrutiny of expenditures from the governor’s fund — starting next year after she leaves office. The second-term Republican cannot run another consecutive term.
Food and beverages accounted for about $33,400 of contingency fund spending in 2017, while miscellaneous spending on dignitary visits and gestures of gratitude or condolences accounted for $14,500.
Individual events or gifts were not listed. Supplies cost roughly $3,900, contractual services cost $3,100, and subscriptions were $3,360.
The Department of Finance and Administration provided the account summary and had no further information from the governor’s office.
Martinez has defended her handling of the fund, noting that her office publishes quarterly account summaries when only an annual summary is required and has generally spent less money than under Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, who left office at the end of 2010.
Richardson reported spending nearly $139,000 from the contingency fund in 2008, including more than $60,600 on food and drinks. During his eight-year tenure, the governor’s mansion north of Santa Fe played host to events involving film stars such as Tommy Lee Jones, foreign dignitaries including former Polish President Lech Walesa as well as community groups and non-profits.
Martinez spokesman Michael Lonergan declined a request to provide greater details on spending in 2017 or any examples of events and individuals who attended them.
He said in an email that the fund is used for “dinners and receptions for business leaders, educators, and dignitaries, as well as subscriptions to publications, official state gifts for protocol meetings, and things like cards or flowers to express condolences or congratulations when necessary.
“The governor also hosts a few receptions each year and occasional staff appreciation events.”
Future governors will have to submit an itemized list of expenditures each month to a legislative committee and the Department of Finance and Administration. Starting next year, the fund also will fall under state auditing procedures.