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Critics of a multimillion-dollar, 25-year lease the state signed with the Downs at Albuquerque point to dilapidated conditions at the racetrack and casino as a reason that the company shouldn’t have landed a second lucrative contract.
Joey Peters

UPDATED: FBI Interviewed Former Martinez Finance Director About Downs Lease

Andrea Goff said Saturday that the FBI called her in to ask questions about the controversial Downs Racino contract.

June 1, 2013, 3:00 pm
By Justin Horwath

Andrea Goff, a former finance director for Gov. Susana Martinez, announced in a statement that she complied with a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to answer questions “related to various activities” including, “the Downs Racino.”

Goff is referring to one of the most controversial New Mexico land deals in 2011, in which the state awarded a multi-million contract to the Downs of Albuquerque Racetrack and Racino—a heavy political donor to Gov. Martinez and other candidates—allowing the company to expand gambling operations on State Fair grounds and lease the taxpayer-owned property for another 25-years. The Downs is expected to pull in about $1 billion over the life of the lease.

SFR, citing anonymous sources, reported on May 29 that the FBI interviewed former campaign staffers for Republican Gov. Martinez about the bidding process of the lease, the relationships between Downs and gubernatorial officials, along with consulting payments made to Gov. Martinez’ political advisor, Jay McCleskey. The FBI has not confirmed with SFR that it’s launched an official criminal investigation into the Downs lease. Its policy is to neither confirm nor deny investigations.

“Due to intense speculation and misinformation,” Goff, who also worked at the executive director of Martinez’ 2010 Inaugural Committee, said in her statement, “I feel it is appropriate to come forward and acknowledge that I complied with a request from the FBI to answer questions related to various activities including those related to the Downs Racino.” 

The Downs won the lease over Laguna Development Co. Critics, citing communications between Downs officials and Martinez officials, called the bidding process for the lease rigged. Gov. Martinez, whose State Fair Commission and Board of Finance approved the deal, says it was above board. 

On Thursday, the US Attorney for New Mexico announced that a federal grand jury handed down a 14-count indictment against former Gov. Martinez campaign staffer Jamie Estrada for intercepting campaign emails of Gov. Martinez and her staffers and for lying about it. Estrada—who was not one of SFR’s sources in its Downs story—says he’s innocent. One of Goff’s emails, sent on May 22, 2012, to top Martinez officials, was included in the indictment

But Goff, who also served as a finance director of a Martinez  political action committee, SusanaPAC, which is separate from the governor’s campaign, says the FBI questioning of her about the Downs deal was not related to the agency’s investigation of the allegedly intercepted emails.

“At the request of the FBI and on the advice of my attorney, Terrnce Hart of Bracewell Giuliani, I will not be answering any questions about the specifics of my interview,” Goff said in her statement. “However, I will add that none of the questions were related to the recent investigation and indictment of Jamie Estrada.”

“I, like any of the others questioned, did not ask to be involved in this investigation and I hope you will respect everyone’s privacy,” Goff said in her statement. “I will not be making any further comments on this matter now or in the future.”

 

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