Linda M. Lopez: Governor’s Improper Use of State Helicopter Disconcerting

State Senator Linda M. Lopez, Democratic candidate for Governor, issued the following statement today:

While running for Governor in 2010, Susana Martinez bombarded the airwaves with commercials that were highly critical of the Richardson Administration’s use the state’s air fleet. Today, the Albuquerque Journal reports that Governor Martinez, who was running late, ordered that the State Police helicopter be used to rush her to the airport so that she could catch a flight to an out-of-state, political fundraising event that had little, if nothing, to do with the people of New Mexico.

State Senator Linda M. Lopez

State Senator Linda M. Lopez

“While the hypocrisy is astounding, of more immediate concern is whether the Governor acted in violation of the Governmental Conduct Act,” State Senator Linda M. Lopez said in response to the article. “We all should be made aware of whether there was a violation of State Police procedure in utilizing the helicopter for this purpose, and whether there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure the State Police are not used for political purposes.”

Senator Lopez is Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which is charged with holding confirmation hearings on the Governor’s top appointees, including the Chief of the State Police.

“State Police Chief Designate Pete Kassetas has only been in this job a few months,” Senator Lopez added, “and while this incident took place two years before his appointment, I want to assure the public that there will be some detailed questioning of the chief on procedures related to this incident when his confirmation hearing is held during the next legislative session.

“While this incident occurred way back on Nov. 15, 2011, it just makes one wonder how many other inappropriate trips she has taken under the radar.”