Gary King: Governor Martinez Must Reimburse Taxpayers for Campaign Use of State Helicopter

Democratic candidate for Governor Gary King’s campaign today called on Governor Martinez to direct her campaign to reimburse the taxpayers of New Mexico for her use of a State Police helicopter in 2011 to get to political fundraisers in Texas:

Yesterday the Albuquerque Journal revealed that Martinez inappropriately used the State-owned helicopter to catch a commercial flight from Albuquerque to Houston to attend fundraisers for her re-election efforts in 2014. The law forbids using State resources to engage in political campaign activity.

Attorney General Gary King
Attorney General Gary King

“The Governor has misused State resources to engage in prohibited campaign activity, and her campaign should reimburse the taxpayers of New Mexico immediately for use of the State Police helicopter,” said Jim Farrell, campaign manager for Gary King. “The Governor spoke out unambiguously against such misuse of public resources when she was a candidate for Governor in 2010. She called for total transparency in State government in such cases. The taxpayers need Governor Martinez to keep her word now. The perception – using a State Police helicopter to get to a campaign fundraising event in Texas – is terrible.”

In addition to yesterday’s revelation, last month it was revealed by the Santa Fe New Mexican that taxpayers regularly are picking up thousands of dollars of costs for Governor Martinez to collect campaign donations at fundraisers held out of state. Public records obtained by the newspaper showed that New Mexico taxpayers spent more than $27,000 on 11 such trips alone in the spring for lodging, food and transportation for the Governor’s aides and security team accompanying her.

“Whether it is a State helicopter or a State jet, this is wrong. Shouldn’t the State Police helicopter be used to fight crime instead of ferrying Gov. Martinez to cocktail parties in Texas to schmooze her campaign donors?” Farrell added.

As a candidate in 2010, Martinez frequently promised to cut waste and fraud in State government to hold down State expenditures. According to news reports, the State Police helicopter Gov. Martinez used to get to a Texas fundraiser costs $800 per hour to operate.