Do NM public officials need to obey the law?

There has been a spate of “legislator gone bad” behavior among New Mexico’s political class. Sure, there were Pat Rogers’ ill-advised remarks about Gen. Custer in a private email and Gov. Martinez’s Chief of Staff Keith Gardner explained how he doesn’t use his government email address to avoid (ironically since the phone conversation was, unknown to Gardner, being taped) having to submit such email correspondence to public records’ requests. The statements by Rogers and Gardner were questionable to say the least and generated a firestorm in the media, but they are not illegal and no taxpayers were harmed.

That’s not the case with three other cases which involved at least serious ethical breaches and potentially-illegal activity.

1) Sen. Lisa Curtis’ campaign gave the La Cueva soccer team $500 to hand out campaign literature.

2) Rep. Ray Begaye was (at least seemingly) fraudulently reimbursed by taxpayers for a conference that he was already paid to attend.

3) Rep. Miguel Garcia seems to have had many problems similar to those of Rep. Begaye in keeping track of his mileage and expenses.

So, it seems that New Mexico’s legislators have either some serious ethical and legal problems or some big problems with preparing simple expense reports and keeping track of financial documents. In their own way, these issues highlight why New Mexico’s Legislature is the ultimate stumbling block to improving our state. Will anyone — Attorney General King or the voters — hold them accountable?

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One Reply to “Do NM public officials need to obey the law?”

  1. Voters are disenfranchised when there’s only one name on the legislative ballot, and about half of New Mexico’s legislators run unopposed. So legislators have no incentive to be accountable to the voters and can remain in office until they retire or are convicted of a felony.

    Getting an actual two-party system would be a good start. If Gov. Martinez is serious about pursuing a Republican agenda, perhaps she can persuade her party to tun candidates for office in every legislative district.

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