ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico think-tank is calling out the lottery board for playing it fast and loose with scholarship money, the facts, and overpaying the lottery CEO. Think New Mexico is claiming the board didn’t do their research before approving the CEO’s raise.

Back in July, CEO for the New Mexico lottery, David Barden, got a 26 percent raise, making his salary $220,000. “There is nothing in his performance to justify the raise,” says Fred Nathan, Executive Director, Think New Mexico.

Months ago, Chairman of the Lottery Authority’s Board, Dr. Dan Salzwedel, defended the raise, saying the potential earnings for bonuses is now just part of his salary.

“He is getting what he deserves,” Salzwedel says. Back then, Salzwedel also said Barden’s salary was below market, comparatively speaking.

Think-tank “Think New Mexico” asked the lottery board for the comparison of CEO salaries in other states. “And we were told they did no comparison, and wrote in a letter saying it was basically based on his experience, so we did the study for them,” Nathan says.

Think New Mexico Executive Director Fred Nathan says they had summer interns call all the other states that have lotteries. They found David Barden is paid better than CEOs in all but six states. “He is paid better than the CEOs in Texas, California, New York, and Florida which have multi-billion dollar lotteries. New Mexico only generates $143 million by contrast,” Nathan says.

Nathan says every dollar that goes towards Barden’s compensation package “is a dollar less to pay for college scholarships that students and families are struggling to afford,” he says.

A spokesperson for the governor’s office, Nora Sackett, responded to the study saying, “I think both the salary increase and the way it was brought about are unconscionable and certainly run counter to the goals of the state lottery program.”

KRQE News 13 reached out to the lottery board and did not hear back.