Legislator accuses House Speaker of violating the law - Albuquerque Journal

Legislator accuses House Speaker of violating the law

House Speaker Brian Egolf

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A Democratic state legislator long at odds with House Speaker Brian Egolf has filed an ethics complaint accusing Egolf of violating the law and state Constitution by appointing himself to the nominating committee that will screen applicants for the Public Regulation Commission.

Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat who is not seeking reelection this year, said the complaint is baseless.

In the ethics complaint, Democratic Rep. Miguel P. Garcia of Albuquerque said Egolf violated the state laws that require legislators to treat their office as a public trust and to conduct themselves in a manner that justifies the confidence placed in them by the people.

He also cited a provision in the state Constitution that says all political power in the state is derived from the people and founded on their will, solely for their good.

The complaint takes issue with Egolf’s decision in July to appoint himself – not another state resident – to the seven-person board that will evaluate candidates for appointment to the PRC and send finalists to the governor.

It was created through a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2020 transforming the PRC into an appointed body. The committee must send to the governor at least five nominees for appointment to the new three-member PRC.

The nominating committee, Garcia said, is “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. … For the Speaker to self appoint himself is a dereliction of his duties.”

In a written statement, Egolf called the complaint petty and rooted in Garcia’s “personal vendetta against me.”

“I am confident the New Mexico State Ethics Commission will see this complaint for what it is – an attempt by Representative Miguel Garcia to use the Commission to drum up publicity for himself and further his petty personal vendetta against me,” Egolf said. “His complaint is utterly baseless. Rep. Garcia should focus on the needs of his constituents rather than sensational and absurd publicity campaigns.”

In this 2019 photo, state Rep. Miguel P. Garcia, D-Albuquerque, speaks on the House floor. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate were each empowered to appoint one person to the nominating committee. Egolf is the only one who appointed himself.

Egolf and Garcia have clashed on other issues, too. In December, Garcia wrote a letter urging House Democrats to censure Egolf, describing the speaker as an elitist disconnected from Hispanic communities.

Egolf, an attorney, described the allegations as untrue and hurtful. He announced earlier this year that he is forgoing reelection and will step down from the Legislature before the next session to spend more time with his family.

Garcia, a retired teacher whose district is based in the South Valley, is running for reelection this year. He has served in the House since 1997.

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