State Takes Over Troubled Border Town

May 24, 2012

The state has appointed a veteran municipal administrator to temporarily oversee the finances of the troubled border town of Sunland Park.

New Mexico Secretary of Finance and Administration Tom Clifford said Wednesday that Michael Steininger, who has worked in Belen and Ruidoso as well as Socorro and Valencia counties, will manage Sunland Park's finances until town officials are capable of resuming control.

Clifford suspended Sunland Park's finance director and purchasing agent on May 14 after state auditor Hector Balderas released a report accusing officials of using the town's multi-million-dollar budget as personal slush funds.

The town's mayor-elect and several other officials have been charged in a series of criminal cases that have been unleashed since state, local and federal officials descended on the town in February to investigate election fraud.