Gov. Martinez: "We understood (Dennis) had been a contributor", but Reg. Division appt "best choice"

Jan 25, 2011

Santa Fe, NM – Governor Susana Martinez says her choice to lead the state's Regulation and Licensing Division is appropriate despite the nominee's major contributions to her campaign last year.

Martinez last week appointed J. Dee Dennis, a long-time Albuquerque electrical contractor, to head the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Division. As KUNM reported, Dennis contributed 12 thousand dollars to Martinez's campaign for governor in 2010. In her campaign, Martinez had slammed then-Governor Bill Richardson over allegations of pay to play in his administration. On Tuesday, Martinez told KUNM she had considered the possibility of the same appearance with the Dennis appointment.
"We certainly wanted to make sure to try to avoid it as much as possible," she said, "but we wanted to pick the absolute best person for that position, and we did. Although we understood that he had been a contributor as well, we were willing to make sure that people understood that he was the best choice for that slot, and we chose him anyways. But we also made it clear to the public that he had been a contributor, so that we weren't hiding the game, and you know, hiding any information from the public."

It's not clear where that disclosure occurred. And a spokesman for the governor didn't immediately respond to requests for clarification.

If confirmed by the state Senate, J. Dee Dennis would lead an agency that's responsible for overseeing all regulatory procedures in New Mexico. He would make 100 thousand dollars a year in the position. Dennis and Martinez have both expressed a strong interest in ensuring that the state's regulations and licensing processes are more business-friendly.