SANTA FE – Legislation that could require public officials convicted of corruption-related crimes to repay taxpayer-funded salaries and forfeit state pension benefits is on track for Gov. Susana Martinez’s signature after unanimously passing the House on Monday.
Public demand for increasing corruption penalties dates back at least to 2006, when former state Treasurers Robert Vigil and Michael Montoya were arrested for extortion and taking kickbacks in state contracts.
A year later, former state Senate President Pro Tem Manny Aragon added to the state’s reputation for corruption when he and former Albuquerque Mayor Ken Schultz were caught in connection with a scheme to skim millions of dollars from the construction of the Metropolitan Court Building in Downtown Albuquerque.
Former Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr.’s felony conviction for fraudulent use of a state credit card last year reiterated the need to increase penalties for corruption offenses, lawmakers said.