ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — A state fair commissioner is being questioned about a possible sweet deal of a donation that landed an RV with free advertisement for an Albuquerque company on the fairgrounds.
On Wednesday, the RV was brought onto the fairgrounds and parked near a main gate. A banner with the name of an Albuquerque RV Company was tied to the front by ropes.
The State Fair opened its annual run on Wednesday.
State Fair spokesperson Michael Henningsen said fair officials are questioning the advertisement because it's not allowed unless the company is a fair sponsor.
“I’m not sure what deal was made to bring that RV onto the grounds, but it was not a sponsorship that was brought through my department, the State Fair,” Henningsen said.
KRQE News 13 learned the RV was loaned to State Fair Commissioner Charlotte Rode, and it was free.
“They are letting me borrow, and then I put it on my insurance,” Rode told News 13.
Rode said the RV is not only for her use. She said a sponsor stopped by to visit her Thursday night, and a fellow commissioner chatted with her inside Friday morning.
Some would say it sounds like a donation, and that could be against the law.
According to a state statute, state employees, including those appointed by the governor, may not receive money or things of value in exchange for promised performance.
Rode said there was no promise of performance.
“They were just loaning me an RV to have a meeting,” Rode said. "There was no promise in return for that. I would take objection of that to apply to what I’m doing."
However, the company’s banner hanging on the front of the RV could be construed as a favor of free advertising.
“Well, and I think maybe that could be construed, but you can also have a license plate with your company's name,” Rode said.
Rode said she didn’t think she did anything wrong. She added that she tried to get the RV company a sponsorship with the State Fair, like the hundreds of other sponsors, but said there was an issue with insurance. Then it just fell through.
“If I made a mistake, I’m the first one to admit I made a mistake,” Rode said.
Rode said she planned on using it as a meeting spot for commissioners. However, late Friday afternoon Rode said she called the RV company and had the vehicle removed from the fairgrounds.
The RV company says Rode told them it was OK to put the vehicle on the state fairgrounds.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.