SANTA FE, NM - New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas announced new results of a special audit on Jan 26 that denounces vehicle abuse and law violations at the Public Regulation Commission (PRC). The audit found unauthorized vehicle use, including taking vehicles out of state, and more than $28,000 of prohibited purchases of premium gas since 2009, a release from the auditor's office stated.

Performed by Atkinson and Co., Ltd., highlights of the independent audit include:

  • PRC Chairman Patrick Lyons drove a Ford F-250 truck, purchased with federal funds, for approximately 65 days in violation of a federal pipeline safety program. The Chairman's use resulted in questioned costs of public money totaling $1,175;
  • Since 2009, dozens of PRC employees made over $28,000 of prohibited purchases of premium gas in violation of state regulations;
  • Two Commissioners and top management of the PRC took state vehicles out of state in violation of state regulations; and
  • There were 15 instances in which Commissioners did not obtain advance approval for trips.

Balderas, in a news release, further condemns Chairman Lyons' leadership and called for his resignation: "Meaningful reform can only occur when the Commission's leadership is not complicit in the misuse of taxpayer dollars.  Chairman Lyons is part of the problem, and he should reimburse the taxpayers and resign his position."

The PRC tightened its vehicle use policies this month, prohibiting vehicle use for commuting and creating stronger fuel card policies, among other changes.