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Ethics Watch critical of financial disclosure act

SANTA FE, N.M. — A new nonpartisan group – backed by some legal heavyweights – is aiming to promote ethical conduct in New Mexico government.

New Mexico Ethics Watch, founded just last year, is weighing in on ethics legislation moving through the Roundhouse this session.

And earlier this month, the group issued a report examining weaknesses in the state’s Financial Disclosure Act and problems with its enforcement.

“One can follow the law to the letter,” the report said, “and the public will still know virtually nothing about possible conflicts of interest.”

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The executive director of Ethics Watch is Douglas Carver, a former staff attorney for the Legislative Council Service. He also has worked for the Judicial Standards Commission, and has degrees from Yale University and the University of New Mexico Law School.

The chairman of the Ethics Watch board is Richard Bosson, a retired justice of the state Supreme Court. Rounding out the board are Phil Davis, an attorney who’s worked for the American Civil Liberties Union; Vic Bruno, a commercial real estate consultant; Daniel Yohalem, an attorney with experience in civil rights law; and attorneys Al Green and Joleen Youngers.

As you might imagine, Ethics Watch mentions litigation as one of the ways it will promote its mission.

Ethics Watch is backing a proposal that would prohibit lawmakers from working as paid lobbyists within two years of leaving the Legislature. That’s House Bill 73, sponsored by Reps. Jim Dines, Joanne Ferrary and Nathan Small.

Dines is an Albuquerque Republican. Ferrary and Small are Las Cruces Democrats.

Ethics Watch also supports creation of an ethics commission, though it opposes allowing the group to operate in secret. Lawmakers are considering a few ethics proposals this session, some of which have faced criticism on transparency grounds.

SPONSOR CHANGE: Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, is no longer listed as a sponsor of a proposal that aims to keep secret the names of applicants for public jobs in New Mexico.

The proposal is now sponsored by Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup.

It has been referred to the Senate Public Affairs and Judiciary committees.

Dan McKay: dmckay@abqjournal.com

 

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