Open government group unhappy with settlement secrecy

Jun 27, 2012

UPDATE 6/27:

A state board has approved a policy requiring financial settlements with investment firms to be subject to New Mexico's public records law but there still could be some limits on disclosure.

The State Investment Council agreed to the policy Tuesday, but New Mexico Foundation for Open Government Executive Director Gwyneth Doland said it doesn't go far enough.

The policy says the council "strongly disfavors" confidentiality provisions in settlements. Dolan wanted the council to prohibit confidentiality provisions and restrictions on disclosure of a settlement.

Last year, the council received a $250,000 settlement but agreed not to voluntarily make a public announcement about it or issue a press release. The settlement was disclosed last month by the Albuquerque Journal after obtaining it under the Inspection of Public Records Act.



The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is urging a state agency to prohibit confidentiality provisions that restrict public disclosure of settlements with investment firms, such as those under investigation in an alleged pay-to-play scheme.

The group made the request in a letter to Governor Susana Martinez, who is chair of the State Investment Council that oversees state permanent funds worth about $15 billion.

The council on Tuesday is consider proposed guidelines for settlements in its legal efforts to recover money for investments allegedly influenced by a pay-to-pay scheme during former Governor Bill Richardson's administration.

The proposal says the council "strongly disfavors" settlements with confidentiality provisions. The foundation wants to stop confidentiality provisions because of a $250,000 settlement that wasn't made public for about a year.