It is easy for public officials to claim they are pro-ethics, easy for them to put words like “Accountability” in the title of their bills – and easy for them to tuck lots of caveats about secrecy into 86 pages of legalese.
Such is the case with House Bill 10, introduced by Rep. Daymon Ely of Corrales and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto of Albuquerque. Both Democrats, their proposed “Public Accountability Act” waits until page 23 to announce that, with few exceptions, “all complaints, reports, files, records and communications collected or generated by (a newly formed ethics board), complaint review committee or director that pertain to alleged breaches shall not be disclosed by the board or any board member, agent or employee of the board and are not subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act.”
Begging the question, how is that blanket of secrecy accountable to the public?
A new watchdog group that understands how legislation is passed and whether it passes muster has the same question. The board of New Mexico Ethics Watch is chaired by retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Richard Bosson; its executive director is Douglas Carver, a former staff attorney for the Legislative Council Service. Last week, the group issued a statement making clear that any state ethics commission should: