Rick May, the former New Mexico cabinet secretary who had a public falling out with Gov. Susana Martinez, is headed back to Washington DC to work on the federal budget.
May will serve as staff director of the US House Budget Committee, which he directed in the '90s under a similar Republican-controlled Congress. The incoming committee chairman is Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, who will replace Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.
The new position is a political turnaround for May, went through several tumultuous periods during his brief career with the Martinez administration.
Soon after her 2010 election to the governor's office, Martinez named May to head the state Department of Finance and Administration, where he worked to balance a $450 million shortfall. After the 2011 state Legislative session, May started clashing with the new administration, maintaining that Martinez' staff shut him out of key budget meetings for not toeing their line.
May was eventually side-shifted to a job as CEO of the New Mexico Finance Authority, a quasi-governmental agency that provides local infrastructure with cheap loans. Shortly before heading NMFA, May came across a memo written by the Martinez administration outlining a plan to substantially downsize the agency. The point of the proposed downsize, May argued, was to outsource NMFA's work to private industry.
"They want the Finance Authority to be this sleepy little entity that only gives small loans to small communities, and…that these local communities should go through these private entities and pay higher interest rates," May told SFR last year. "These other private entities are going to charge a lot higher fees than the Finance Authority ever did. They view the Finance Authority, I guess, as unfair competition."
The Martinez administration downplayed the memo as "a sheet of notes" that only represented informal ideas. May disagreed and alleged that the administration was attempting to "dismantle and destroy" the agency.
Soon, a scandal hit NMFA when it was revealed that May's comptroller, Greg Campbell, forged an internal audit of the agency. May's team at NMFA hired an independent investigator look into the matter. He also claimed that Campbell lied to him and NMFA staff on several occasions about the audit. None of this was enough to save his job. In August 2012, the board overseeing NMFA fired May.
Last year, May filed a lawsuit against Martinez, alleging that her administration was withholding emails related to the board's decision to fire him (for the full story on all of this, click here and here). A separate lawsuit filed by May against Clifton Gunderson, the auditing firm hired to do NMFA's audit that May claimed also dropped the ball on the matter, was settled out of court earlier this year.
Earlier this year, May left New Mexico for a job in Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich's administration as executive director of the Ohio Broadcast Educational Media Commission. His new job in Washington DC is much higher profile and identical to the role he held in the '90s.
"It is truly an honor to be named to this important position and I look forward to working with Chairman Price and the members of the House Budget Committee in balancing the federal budget," May said in a statement. "This committee plays a key role in how Congress addresses the nation's most pressing budget and economic issues and my previous experiences will hopefully assist the Chairman and the Committee in meeting their responsibilities to the American people."
His lawsuit against Martinez is still pending.