Martinez Shut Down Behavioral Health System on False Pretenses, Gave Contracts to Donors
The Democratic Party of New Mexico welcomed news on Monday that the Attorney General Hector Balderas had cleared the last of the behavioral health providers charged by the state with fraud, but the party also called for an investigation into Gov. Susana Martinez and her role in effectively shutting down more than a dozen behavioral health providers and then giving lucrative contracts to one of her largest campaign donors to take on the work.
“The Attorney General’s decision, while welcomed, doesn’t begin to bring justice for the providers who lost their livelihoods, the patients who lost their care and the students who went without critical support services,” said Joe Kabourek, Democratic Party of New Mexico Executive Director. “These providers and their patients did nothing wrong, but Susana Martinez did. She shut down these community-based businesses with no evidence so that she could throw millions of dollars in contracts to a fat-cat donor. The real investigation that’s needed here is an investigation into Gov. Susana Martinez’s decision to strip care away from thousands of New Mexicans while lining the pockets of her campaign contributors.”
Optum Health, whose Arizona-based behavioral health providers were whisked in to provide services after the governor and her administration shut down local providers, has been a major contributor to the governor’s campaigns, the Republican and even “wined and dined” the governor’s official staff in advance of getting the lucrative contracts, according to local newspaper reports.
“This is cronyism, plain and simple,” Kabourek said. “Susana Martinez shut down hard-working, local behavioral health services providers in order to pay back her high-dollar campaign contributors – and New Mexican families paid the very high price.”
This latest example of the governor’s using her authority to benefit a wealthy few is, unfortunately, nothing new, Kabourek said.
“From the FBI’s investigation of the governor to her own secretary of standing ending up in jail on corruption charges, the Martinez Administration has been plagued by scandal after scandal,” Kabourek said. “The unjustified destruction of our state’s behavioral health system to benefit her wealthy friends is just another example of Gov. Susana Martinez abusing her power to benefit her wealthy friends. New Mexicans deserve better and they deserve answers.”