State Investment Council Needs a Closer Look

The Rio Grande Foundation has been doing a good deal of work on New Mexico’s State Investment Council. The problem is, as I point out in a new column in the Las Cruces Sun-News is that the Council really doesn’t know what is going on with taxpayers’ money and has invested in some truly corrupt out-of-state businesses.
One of these businesses is known as Small Smiles which was investigated by a Washington, DC television station. The SIC’s 2007 annual report showed an investment of an unstated sum in this New Mexico company. By directly contacting the venture capital firm that handled this investment, the Rio Grande Foundation learned that about $500,000 New Mexico taxpayer dollars have been invested in Small Smiles.
Contrary to the SIC’s annual report, Small Smiles, is not a New Mexico company. It is a national chain of low-income dental clinics owned by a bank in Bahrain. Furthermore, at the time half a million taxpayers dollars were going to help Arab investors.
There is scant oversight of the SIC’s investment practices and decisions. Only when a big investment like Eclipse craters does the public learn of losses. It’s time the Legislature revisit the discretion it has given the SIC, and provide for greater transparency and more informed decision making. It should also ensure inescapable accountability for those who make the wrong calls in handling the public’s money.