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Monday, November 15, 2010

Susana Martinez Picks Beltway Insider Richard May to Run Finance and Administration

On Friday, Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez nominated Richard May to serve as her cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. DFA will be the main player within the incoming administration that deals with the state budget, which by all accounts will be a contentious issue during the Legislative Session that begins at Noon on January 18, 2011.

I guess we should be happy the designated DFA head is not a Texan -- at least that we know of -- but it turns out that Richard May, 56, spent 25 years in Washington DC as a Beltway insider. From 1993 through 1997, May served as the GOP staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee, according to the AP. At other times May was also a federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures and legislative director for Congressman John R. Kasich in the nation's capitol, later working at lobbying and law firms in Washington DC. He is a graduate of Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in political science.

For some background, Kasich, who was just elected governor of Ohio, is a former chairman of the House Budget Committee and a well-known face on the Faux News Network's various right wing shows, including a show he hosted. In 2001, Kasich took a job as managing director of the Columbus investment banking division of Lehman Brothers. He remained at the company until its collapse in September 2008.

Another Outsider
Martinez got a lot of her campaign funding and advice from out-of-state and DC-based GOP operatives. It now appears she's picked another of that ilk to handle the budget. Though the news media seem content to refer mostly to May's short employment at Sandia Labs and not look much further into his record (surprise), he has clearly been among the nation's conservative budget and financial elites for most of his career. I wouldn't be surprised if his loyalties are to them, and not particularly to the working people of New Mexico. Ideology before humans.

May is now the manager of government relations (read lobbying) at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, but he's only been there since March of 2009. He was also an appropriations and tax analyst for the NM House GOP caucus during the 2009 legislative session. The right-wing power players must have sent him into New Mexico early to get a feel for his opponents.  The press release (that I scrounged from other sources because the Martinez transition team press operation won't put me on their email list to receive them) had this to say about May:

May has led a respected and accomplished career that includes working for Sandia National Laboratories as a manager, serving as chief appropriations and tax analyst for the Republican caucus in the New Mexico House of Representatives, and operating as a policy director for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, as well as a principal at Davidson & Company, Inc.

On the Brownstein firm's website, it says:

... Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck now boasts one of the region’s largest real estate practices, as well as national corporate, natural resources and litigation practices, and one of the fastest growing lobbying practices in Washington, DC.
... The firm represents local, national and international clients in legal and lobbying matters across a wide array of industries including real estate, hospitality, private equity, telecommunications, technology, construction, energy, banking, finance, gaming, and water.

Now this is rather interesting, given New Mexico's gaming industry and all the accusations made during the campaign about the Texan Martinez having her eye on New Mexico's water:

As a result of two mergers since January 2007, the firm has undergone incredible growth, doubling in size.

In January 2007, Brownstein Hyatt & Farber merged with Las Vegas-based Schreck Brignone to form Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, headquartered in Denver. The merger added an internationally known private equity/gaming practice to the firm’s list of offerings. Brownstein retained Schreck Brignone clients Wynn Resorts, Inc., MGM MIRAGE, Mandalay Resort Group, Park Place Entertainment, Inc. and Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.

In January 2008, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck merged with Hatch & Parent, a California-based law firm best known for its unprecedented work in public agency and water law. With the addition of Hatch & Parent, Brownstein became the premier water law and policy practice in the West, bringing on Hatch & Parent clients Nestle Waters North America, San Diego County Water Authority, South Tahoe Public Utility District, and the Cities of Fresno and Oxnard.

Only a Vague Outline of May's Career
Of course we currently have no idea of the timelines that apply to most of May's career. The press release announcement appears to be purposefully vague. So we know May spent 25 years in Washington, but not exactly how he spent those years in terms of dates of employment or his specific duties, especially at DC lobbying and law firms.

As for Davidson & Company, Inc., the firm mentioned as a place where May served as a "prinicipal," it's not entirely clear which company that is. A Google search does turn up a listing on Bloomberg.com of an Andrew Davidson & Co., Inc. that says the company "provides risk analytics and consulting services for the mortgage (MBS) and asset-backed securities (ABS) industry," and "a credit model that gives information about the performance of loans by tracking borrower behavior over the lifetime of a loan; and valuation models that provide the analytical platform to make hedging [hedge fund], valuation, and risk management decisions," among other services as described in highly technical terms on the site. It says the company "was founded in 1992 and is based in New York, New York with additional offices in California and Washington."

Hey Reporters: Are You Digging Deeper?
Why did May suddenly decide to move to New Mexico and get a job with the lobbying arm of Sandia Labs? Why was he chosen to serve as the appropriations and tax analyst for the NM House GOP caucus during the 2009 legislative session? We don't know, but you'd think one of our state's enterprising reporters or bloggers who say they are journalists would ask. It would also be helpful if they vetted May's background, as journalists once did, and nailed down when May worked at each of his prior jobs and what he did there. Don't hold your breath.

The "we're journalists" contingent seems mostly hung up on stories about yammering and backbiting by the Martinez camp aimed at the "Richardson-Denish" administration, and pure speculation about who will serve as Speaker of the House in the next legislative session. That's unfortunate, because these are the people who have official "press credentials" they can use when calling May's former employees and pushing for other info. I don't.

We do know that May donated $1,500 to Martinez’s campaign in October, according to numbers from the Secretary of State’s office.

Budget Comments by May and Martinez
May accepted Martinez’s request to be her first nominee “with great honor.” According to the AP article, May said Martinez “is completely unsatisfied – as are the vast majority of New Mexicans – with how the budget has been managed and with the waste of hard-earned dollars. I will work day and night to get New Mexico back on firm financial footing following the governor-elect’s strong and principled leadership.”

"The magnitude of the budget shortfall is sort of daunting but at the same it's also an opportunity," May continued. "We have an opportunity not only to reform government but also to enact a lot of needed efficiencies within how we spend taxpayers' money. And of course, I think that's what the voters said in November. They wanted no tax increases and they wanted effective government and they wanted us to work together with the Legislature and the entire administration."

For her part, Martinez said, “The failure of state government to live within its means is inexcusable and it’s time we make the tough decisions necessary to finally put our fiscal house in order. In doing so, we must be mindful that the long-term solution to our budget crisis is economic growth and that is why we must balance the budget by cutting spending, rather than raising taxes, so we can create an environment where small businesses can grow and create jobs.”

May Will Stay at Sandia Until January
May reportedly "will continue to work at Sandia until the end of the year, but said he will immediately begin dealing with the state's budget issues." Must be nice to have a job where you get paid while working at other unrelated duties. Martinez, herself, is apparently set on keeping her job as Dona Ana County DA until she takes office at the end of this year. I wonder how much time she'll be putting in at that job between now and January 1st. Any bets?

November 15, 2010 at 02:45 PM in 2010 NM Governor's Race, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Finance, Investments, NM Legislature 2011, Susana Martinez | Permalink

Comments

May sounds like an ideologue supreme. Let's hope the Dems in the Legislature are geared up to fight this guy tooth and nail. He sounds like he can be expected to whack at the budget like Gary Johnson did. That put NM into a hole for a decade and hurt thousands of people. Couldn't Susana find a true New Mexican up to the task? Is Karl Rove picking her appointments?

Posted by: Old Dem | Nov 15, 2010 4:54:47 PM

NM, among the poorest states ever, is still ripe for picking the last crop of dollars and shipping them out of state. Let's see how THAT grows the economy, but not in NM, in Washington, DC.

This is all working out so nicely.

Posted by: bg | Nov 15, 2010 5:30:31 PM

How about the water issues mentioned in his past. I guess it was not all too far fetched. Easy pickins is right.

Posted by: mary ellen | Nov 15, 2010 5:47:49 PM