Lawsuit filed against GSD in attorney payment probe

By: June 5, 2017 12:41 pmViews: 43

A lawsuit was filed Thursday afternoon in Santa Fe District Court by journalist Jeff Proctor against the General Services Department (GSD). The purpose of the lawsuit is to discover how much Gov. Susana Martinez’s private attorney charged New Mexico taxpayers to represent her in a number of court cases. The lawsuit claims GSD failed to comply with the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) by not releasing the information.

The suit calls for the state to release specific invoices and bills that show how much the state has paid Kennedy to represent Martinez as contract counsel in several cases. In addition to retaining Kennedy, Martinez also has access to four state employed legal staff, whose combined salaries total $341,850.

The lawsuit states that in addition to not releasing Kennedy’s billing records, GSD violated the open records law, and in doing so also “offend the spirit and intent of the law governing matters of public concern.”

Kennedy has been contracted for at least $850,000, but it’s unclear how much he has actually been paid or for what work he’s been compensated for.

According to the lawsuit, after the deadline to release information passed, and the state failed to release the documents, Proctor filed a formal public records complaint with Hector Balderas, New Mexico Attorney General, the office that is tasked with enforcing compliance with IPRA.

Kennedy represented Martinez in three major IPRA lawsuits involving the the Santa Fe Reporter, the Associated Press and by the former head of the New Mexico Finance Authority. In turn, GSD released three contracts, two with redacted billing records, and refused to disclose specifics of Kennedy’s scope of work.

In December 2016, the state Attorney General’s office determined that GSD violated IPRA by missing key deadlines and failing to to turn over key public documents.

“The Department should have provided, at a minimum, copies of the billing records requested with redaction of specific details of the attorney services which constitute attorney-client privilege,” Assistant Attorney General Joseph Dworak wrote in a December 2016 letter to GSD’s general council.

According to the state court records database, Kennedy has 14 other pending criminal and civil cases in state courts going back 5 years.

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