More than a month after placing its executive director on administrative leave, the New Mexico Finance Authority board voted today to fire Rick May following controversy over an allegedly faked audit.
This afternoon, May was quick to send a press release decrying the action as retaliation for "the public comments I have made over the past ten weeks regarding the Board's imprudent decision to rescind the contract with a nationally respected law firm ... to conduct an immediate independent investigation."
"As I had suspected, the majority of the Board is not really interested in learning what happened as their real goal for improper purposes seems to be to shift the blame," May's statement reads. "It should also be noted this decision to terminate me was made without giving me an opportunity to appear before the full NMFA Board to provide all of the facts surrounding the fraudulent audit situation or to answer questions posed by the Board."
In the statement, May tries to clear his name and adds that he "has no other choice than to continue pursuing all legal and other options to preserve and protect my longstanding reputation for honesty and integrity."
May also attached a letter he wrote to the NMFA board on Sept. 27 mentioning that Greg Campbell, who allegedly authored a fraudulent audit that failed to properly report $40 million in NMFA expenses during fiscal year 2011, and external auditor Clifton Gunderson misled him and State Auditor Hector Balderas.
"Clifton Gunderson never provided any letter to me for signature nor was this letter, as required by the State Audit Rule," May wrote to the board. "The importance of this breach of duty by Clifton Gunderson cannot be emphasized enough."
May also attached a 13-point memo which he writes is from the Administration and argues would "dismantle the Finance Authority." The memo provides plans to significantly downsize NMFA. May wrote to the board that "various actions over the past 77 days have been part of an effort to embarrass the Finance Authority, and retaliate against me, and other members of senior management to create a more favorable environment to greatly diminish the Finance Authority's mission, scope, and purpose."
The 13 points listed read:
1. Hire May as CEO and Andrew Jacobson as his deputy.
2. Let May take Kim Gonzales with him to NMFA. If not, move her out of the Office of the Secretary.
3. Have May and Jacobson do a complete assessment of education, skills, background and experience of all NMFA hires with view to downsizing to half the current staffing level by the end of September.
4. Have May and Jacobson do a complete assessment of all contracts for legal, financial, and other and have the new leadership issue RFPs to implement the new direction for these services (reduce the number of constituents and change them).
5. Provide DFA-SBD with all budget materials (payroll, benefits, contracts and other costs).
6. The higher education position serves at the pleasure of the Governor ... remove the current member and leave the position vacant.
7. Require specific identification of capital projects to be funded by the Public Project Revolving Fund (PPRF).
8. Review/repeal/consolidate policies governing local application and approval process for PPRF.
9. Streamline approval process by eliminating internal committee approvals.
10. Eliminate complexities in the PPRF like Disadvantaged Funding interest rates and Cost of Issuance subsidy.
11. Eliminate complexities in the PPRF—especially contingent liability fund and other designated cash funds and release those funds to the state General Fund in FY12 and FY13.
12. Move DOT bond issuance to the State Board of Finance.
13. By December, have a concrete plan of action that addresses the need to get the NMFA back to its core mission of assisting projects for smaller, rural areas in the state. Included in that plan should be a way to address getting away from the $20+million in the GGRT they rely upon. NMFA should become self-reliant like NMMortgage Finance Authority and the millions in GGRT should go back to the General Fund.
Read May's statement, his letter to the NMFA board and the 13-point plan below: