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AG Balderas disappointed with ethics, pension forfeiture legislation

Attorney General Hector Balderas said today he is disappointed with the failure of the ethics commission proposal in the Legislature.

And he said he’s disappointed with the slow movement of a bill that makes it explicit that corrupt public officials would lose their pensions.

“I think that politicians are afraid to apply accountability and strengthen laws that may impact their own bodies. That’s always been a very difficult culture to overcome,” Balderas said in an interview with the Journal.

The 30-day session ends tomorrow, but Balderas said he remained hopeful “the Legislature will strengthen and put teeth into” the pension forfeiture law.

The bill to do that was pending in the House, and would still have to go to the Senate if the House approved it.

The AG determined last year when he was prosecuting former Secretary of State Dianna Duran for misusing her campaign funds that the current law — which some thought allowed pension forfeiture — was vague and unworkable.

Balderas said he was hoping to have a stronger law in place this year.

He said the legislation should be aimed at all levels of government, including the Legislature.

“I believe that corruption is committed by all types of employees at every level of government, so when you … start to treat different people with different measures you essentially gut the process.”

The ethics commission met its end Tuesday in the Senate Rules Committee. Its sponsor, Rep. Jim Dines, R-Albuquerque, said proposed revisions would weaken it so badly he didn’t want his name on it.

Balderas said he supported Dines’ “taking a tougher stand.”