SANTA FE (AP) – Former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson fired back at Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday for a hard-hitting campaign ad by the Republican incumbent that renews allegations of corruption during Richardson’s tenure.
Richardson objected to what he called “deplorable tactics” by Martinez in her latest ad against Democratic gubernatorial challenger Gary King.
The TV ad refers to allegations that political influence in state investments benefited Richardson supporters, and it touts New Mexico’s recovery of than $27 million from settlements with brokers, investment firms and others that were sued by the State Investment Council during the Martinez administration. The ad also criticizes King, as attorney general, for not acting against investment dealings when Richardson was in office.
Richardson said he was proud of his accomplishments as governor and blistered Martinez.
“New Mexicans should think twice about re-electing a clueless governor and an incompetent administration so devoid of a vision for the future,” he said.
“Her pathetic accomplishments and record as governor necessitate these deplorable tactics to divert attention from a miserable record in job creation, education, and protecting kids, health and the environment,” Richardson said. “Her weak four-year tenure as governor is the issue in this election, not what happened in an administration four years ago.”
Martinez campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez responded, “Bill Richardson worries about his tarnished legacy, while Gov. Martinez focuses on how to make New Mexico a stronger, better state on the heels of Richardson’s eight years of abuse, greed and corruption.”
No criminal charges have been brought over the allegations that political considerations improperly influenced state investment deals.
After Martinez took office, the State Investment Council – with the support of King’s office – sued a former top state investment manager appointed by Richardson, officials with private financial firms and others, including a Richardson political supporter and friend. All have denied any wrongdoing.
The son of Richardson’s friend shared in more than $20 million in fees for helping investment firms land state business and earlier this year paid New Mexico nearly $329,000 to resolve a tax-evasion case.
Richardson’s popularity plummeted during his second term after his administration came under federal investigation for its handling of investment deals and transportation contracts.
Martinez has long used Richardson as a political punching bag. She often invoked Richardson’s name during her 2010 campaign against Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, who was Richardson’s running mate. And in this year’s race, Martinez tells voters that King will return “to the failed policies of the past.”
The Martinez campaign began airing a radio ad this week that includes a recording of Richardson urging support for King at a recent political event, saying, “I taught him everything he knows.” The ad criticizes King for leasing to the state a building where Richardson approved a rent increase. King has said the lease was properly handled and the building provides a community service as a health clinic.