Agency Asked To Prohibit Secrecy in Deals

Albuquerque Journal  (Subscription) -  A group advocating for open government is asking a state agency to prohibit confidentiality provisions that restrict public disclosure of settlements with investment firms, such as those under investigation in an alleged pay-to-play scheme. The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is upset because the State Investment Council reached a $250,000 settlement that wasn’t made public for more than a year because the agency agreed not to issue a press release or voluntarily announce the deal with a California-based investment firm. The council oversees state endowment funds worth about $15 billion, and today is considering proposed guidelines for handling settlements as it tries to recover money for investments allegedly influenced by a pay-to-pay scheme during former Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration. A draft of the proposed policy says the council “strongly disfavors” settlements with confidentiality provisions. However, the foundation wants tougher language to make it clear there can be no restrictions on public disclosure of settlements. “We understand that the state has a financial interest in reaching settlements such as this one, but that interest cannot trump the state’s duty to act transparently on behalf of the public,” Gwyneth Doland, the foundation’s executive director, said in a letter to Gov. Susana Martinez, who leads the council. Read More News New Mexico



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