Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, has resigned from the New Mexico Senate.
The retirement announcement was read today on the Senate floor. There was no comment or discussion after his letter was read by the Senate chief clerk.
Griego, a five-term lawmaker who was the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee chairman, has not been seen at the Capitol for the last two days as rumors swirled.
He has faced recent questions over his involvement in the 2014 sale of a state building in Santa Fe.
Griego made no mention of that in his letter, in which he said he was resigning “with a heavy heart.”
“My respect and love for the Senate have convinced me this action is necessary in order to avoid a major distraction to the important work that needs to be accomplished for the families and children throughout the state of New Mexico,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, a joint statement released by Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said the stipulation speaks for itself.
“We have no comment and have instructed all of the members of the Senate to do the same,” the Senate leaders said.
The property sale in question was approved by lawmakers in the final days of the 2014 session. After that, Griego said, the building’s buyer contracted with him to monitor sale proceedings. The building had been owned by the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.
Griego defended his role in the sale last year, telling the Journal, “I didn’t feel there was an ethical problem when I did the deal. We were already out of the session. I didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong.”
A former Santa Fe city councilor, Griego was first elected to the state Senate in 1996. During the 2012 election cycle, he rebuffed an attempt from progressive groups to oust him from office.
His Senate District 39 spans all or part of six different counties — Santa Fe, San Miguel, Lincoln, Bernalillo, Torrance and Valencia.
Republican Gov. Susana Martinez will pick a successor for Griego from a list of names recommended to her by county commissioners in those six counties. At least four of the counties are planning to hold emergency meetings on the situation tomorrow.