Fairgrounds Lease Criticized in Senate Hearing

Feb 11, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Former and current State Fair commissioners are criticizing Gov. Susana Martinez's administration for rushing through a 25-year lease in 2011 for a company to build a larger casino at the fairgrounds.

Former Commissioner Charlotte Rode testified yesterday before the Senate Rules Committee on objections she's previously voiced about the handling of the lease that allowed the Downs at Albuquerque to build a larger casino.

Commissioner Kenneth "Twister" Smith said he felt pressured to have the commission quickly approve the deal.

Rode and Smith voted against the lease.

Former State Board of Finance member Tom Tinnin testified he resigned shortly before the board was to review the proposed lease. He said the deal "didn't smell good."

A Martinez spokesman defended the lease and described the hearing as a "taxpayer-funded political circus."