Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Official: Audit of state Land Office a 'joke'

The New Mexican
Staci Matlock

"The general counsel for lame duck New Mexico State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons called a recent special state audit of the State Land Office "a joke."

"Either they (state auditors) are incompetent or this is just a political witch hunt, which is a shame," said Robert Stranahan on Monday.

The 71-page special audit, released Dec. 8, included 15 "findings" on 100 state trust land transactions conducted by the State Land Office from 2002 to March 11, 2010.

The report concluded that the New Mexico State Land Office had weak internal controls, arbitrarily changed appraised land values and failed to follow the public bid process.

The State Land Office oversees 8.5 million acres of surface lands and 13 million acres of mineral rights in New Mexico. Revenue from the sale or lease of those lands for grazing, mining and energy development benefit public schools and other institutions.

State Auditor Hector Balderas looked at land exchanges or leases statewide, including a controversial exchange of land around White Peak in northeastern New Mexico and a land deal with Rio Rancho and Lions Gate Entertainment, (.)" More>>>>

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