On Friday, the New Mexico State Ethics Commission (SEC) agreed “to ask the Legislature to expand its jurisdiction to the parts of the state Constitution that prohibit profiting from public office and ban legislators from having an interest in contracts authorized by legislation passed during their term,” according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Executive director Jeremy Farris told the Journal that constitutional provisions at issues are a “natural fit” to the SEC’s mission and not necessarily due to legislators, such as former second-ranking House Democrat Rep. Sheryl Stapleton, who is embroiled in a decades-long corruption investigation where she has been indicted on 28 federal counts.
The Commission is seeking approval for a $1.28 million budget, which is an increase of 40% over the previous year’s appropriation. The move would increase the agency from five employees to nine.
According to the report, the new changes in the agency’s expanded jurisdiction, if approved, would give the Commission authority over constitutional provisions prohibiting:
• Increased compensation for public officials during their term of office.
• Legislators having an interest in any state or city contract that was authorized by law during their term or for one year afterward.
• State officials who already draw a salary from drawing outside fees or otherwise profiting for their service in public office.
Farris said, “We absolutely have to have a larger staff to run this agency.” He noted, “It won’t work with five.”
Time will tell if the Commission will get its wishes, with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in hot water over her alleged corrupt activity, along with many other legislators and public officials who have had complaints lodged against them.