Ethics agency reaches settlement with Rep. Louis - Albuquerque Journal

Ethics agency reaches settlement with Rep. Louis

In this file photo, Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, sits in the speaker’s chair during American Indian Day at the state Legislature. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – State Rep. Georgene Louis agreed to pay New Mexico’s ethics commission $250 as part of a settlement after her drunken driving arrest in February.

The State Ethics Commission, an independent government agency, made the announcement Thursday.

The payment of $250 represents the maximum allowable fine under the relevant part of the Governmental Conduct Act, the agency said.

In exchange, the commission agreed not to seek a civil enforcement action against Louis, accusing her of violating the act.

The commission said it had concluded Louis violated the act by seeking favorable treatment from officers during her Feb. 13 arrest, when she mentioned her legislative office and displayed her legislative license plate.

Louis, a Democrat who represents part of the West Side of Albuquerque, pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated DWI.

She has apologized and announced she won’t run for reelection this year.

Police videos from her traffic stop show her telling an officer that she had been at a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house.

“I haven’t had much sleep,” Louis said in the video. “I’m a legislator, we haven’t had much sleep.”

The State Ethics Commission said Louis violated the law by referring to her legislative office in an attempt either to get favorable treatment or to persuade the officer that her appearance was the result of fatigue from legislative service, not alcohol.

The Governmental Conduct Act requires legislators to use the “resources of public office only to advance the public interest and not to obtain personal benefits or pursue private interests.”

The ethics commission made the settlement demand to Louis earlier this month.

“In recent years, New Mexico has witnessed elected officials refer to their elected office to pursue a private interest during a law enforcement investigation into their conduct,” Jeremy Farris, executive director of the ethics commission, said in a news release. “The Governmental Conduct Act prohibits such use of the powers and resources of public office. The State Ethics Commission will make every effort to enforce that prohibition.”

The Journal wasn’t immediately able to reach Louis on Thursday.

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