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October surprise was a nothingburger

October 13, 2018

Despite being provided with documentation directly contradicting the overall narrative, Thom Cole’s article (“Role in loan questioned,” Oct. 8) failed to properly attribute the blame for a failed tribal loan transaction I worked on nearly a decade ago.

Buried at the very end of the story was a discussion of how the Internal Revenue Service’s Lois Lerner weaponized her office against organizations she didn’t like, including Indian tribes and whistleblowers.

After I had exposed Lois Lerner’s racist practice of conducting IRS audits of tax-exempt bonds 32 times more often against tribes than state and local governments, I was able to force one of Lerner’s subordinates to admit IRS wrongdoing and change its policy. Lois Lerner weaponized her office by pulling the rug out from under my initiative to leverage capital gains tax treatment to attract outside capital investment into tribal economies. She changed the rules in the middle of the game, ignoring the plain reading of a statute. I provided the written documentation to Cole proving my assertion, but he was determined to stick to his concocted corruption narrative.

The bottom line is that if Lois Lerner hadn’t retaliated against me for whistleblowing, New Mexico tribes and pueblos would have greater access to investment capital today.

While I was separately paid for work on $18 million of subsequent New Market Tax Credit projects, including high-speed broadband for rural Alaskan Natives (something desperately needed on New Mexico’s reservations and rural communities), I received no compensation for my work on the loan transaction discussed in Cole’s article, nor did I own shares in any the tribal corporations involved. My motivation was simply to equalize tax treatment for capital invested in tribal and non-tribal corporations.

It is also worth noting that in the entire article, there is not one assertion that I did anything wrong. I provided Cole written documentation directly contradicting the ProPublica source Cole cited, but he refused to incorporate it into his account and even got my resignation date from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs wrong even though it was at the top of my resignation letter, which I also provided him. He also cited lower court or administrative proceedings without bothering to check their status on appeal.

My consulting role regarding the tanked transaction was fully disclosed multiple times, including in my federal background check. I was fully cleared to oversee the same loan guarantee program to which my client had previously applied, and I was tasked with fixing the problems that arose during the Obama administration that were the subject of the later Inspector General report.

A hit piece against me on the front page means someone is worried New Mexicans are ready for a new secretary of state with a plan for job creation, a commitment to eliminate absentee voter fraud using zombies, aliens, or canines, and the technical expertise to protect the power of every vote from suppression.

Dr. Gavin Clarkson is the Republican nominee for New Mexico Secretary of State. He is a former deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Economic Development in the Department of the Interior and a former associate professor in the College of Business at New Mexico State University. He is a cum laude graduate of the Harvard Law School and is the first tribal member to earn a doctorate from the Harvard Business School (in Technology and Operations Management).

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