On Thursday, it was reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican that state Rep. Miguel García (D-Bernalillo) had filed an ethics complaint against lame duck Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) over his self-appointment to the nominating committee for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC).
The Commission was changed from an elected position to an appointed one after voters approved the constitutional amendment in 2020.
“The PRC Nominating Committee is statutorily created. It is not the creation of a simple memorial or a joint memorial. It is singularity the most important step in transitioning from an elected board to an appointed board. Such transitional power should rest with the people, not an elected politician,” García wrote in his complaint to the State Ethics Commission. He characterized Egolf’s self-appointment as a dereliction of duty.
Egolf, who previously faced another ethics complaint over his use of his office for personal gain by passing 2021’s H.B. 4, which stripped qualified immunity rights from local governments, opening them up to frivolous civil rights lawsuits. Egolf just so happens to be a civil rights lawyer who was the primary sponsor of the bill that would enrich himself. The Ethics Commission, in true form, tossed the credible ethics complaint.
“I had thought the speaker was set to pick up a lot of work in his retirement following the passage of the civil rights bill,” said House Republican Leader Jim Townsend (R-Artesia).
Now, Egolf is claiming García, who is in his third decade of serving as a legislator, suddenly is going after Egolf over a “personal vendetta” to get “publicity.” But it is unclear why now — after serving 25 years in the Legislature — García would suddenly grasp for headlines.
“It goes counter to the customs and traditions of Speakers’ appointing the people to statutorily created committees, boards, or commissions,” he wrote. “In my 25 years as a State Representative, the Speakers’ that I served under never appointed themselves to a statutorily created committee. Speaker Raymond Sánchez, Speaker Ben Luján, Speaker Ken Martínez, and Speaker Don Tripp never crossed the line. In the sixteen years that Raymond Sánchez served as Speaker, he states that he never self-appointed himself to a statutorily created committee of which protocol called for people participation,” García noted in his complaint, referring to both Republican and Democrat speakers of the New Mexico House of Representatives.
The seven-member committee that Egolf appointed himself to will seek at least five nominees to serve on the three-member board. The PRC will now be appointed from the nominees by the governor. If Republican Mark Ronchetti defeats incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, that could change some things for the trajectory of the panel.