ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE)- State Auditor Tim Keller is making some serious allegations but giving no specifics. He says his office has spent the last five months looking into the state’s Tax and Revenue Department where employees could be giving special tax breaks. The auditor says it could be criminal and that the investigation has uncovered preferential treatment for at least one business.
The State Auditor’s office says they receive countless tips through their fraud hotline. One sparked an investigation into employees within the Tax and Revenue Department giving at least one business preferential tax treatment.
“These kinds of things are common from folks who are disgruntled and things like that, but once we got an official documented situation where this occurred, and then culminating with audio tapes, we knew had to take this very seriously right away”, said Keller.
Keller says hours of audio tapes involving discussions of wrongdoing goes back to 2014. Keller says they implicate both Governor-appointed officials and lower employees but would not go into specifics.
Keller said, “Lots of folks before they come into government they may have their own business on the side and in this situation the tax treatment is tied to former clients of senior officials at TRD”.
An independent firm was brought in to do an investigation, but at this point, Keller would not release the name of the business or the employees at Tax and Rev at the center of the investigation.
“They’re senior officials, at the Tax and Revenue Department, and so by definition that’s going to include folks at the top and around the top of the organization”, said Keller.
Keller says it all adds up to potential criminal and ethical violations. His office handed the case to the Attorney General’s office to review for potential criminal charges.
Governor Susana Martinez’s office released this statement in response to the investigation:
“Our office received the letter this morning and will certainly look into it. Unfortunately, the State Auditor has a track record as a politician of making salacious statements that later turn out to be false. That being said, Governor Martinez takes any allegations of misconduct seriously and will evaluate this situation thoroughly to ensure New Mexico taxpayers are being well-served and treated fairly”.