Legislative Panel Plans Review of Fairgrounds Deal

Jan 17, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Senate committee leader plans a hearing during the upcoming legislative session on the awarding by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration of a state fairgrounds lease for a horse racing track and casino.

Rules Committee chairwoman Sen. Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat who is running for governor against Martinez, said yesterday the panel wants to question current and former State Fair commissioners about the 2011 lease awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque allowing the construction of a larger casino at the fairgrounds.

A union-funded political group and other Martinez critics contend the lease was rushed through to benefit Martinez political supporters. The governor's office has said that political contributions didn't influence decisions on the fairgrounds lease.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell said the planned hearing would be a "petty, political circus."