Common Cause head praises NM ethics measure - Albuquerque Journal

Common Cause head praises NM ethics measure

The president of a national government accountability group said Friday that the legislative approval of an independent New Mexico ethics commission – after years of failure – was a “huge win” for state voters.

And, she said, it was no coincidence lawmakers approved the measure just two months after President Donald Trump took office.

Karen Hobart Flynn

Karen Hobart Flynn, the president of Common Cause, a nonprofit group that’s pushed for years for creation of an ethics commission, was in New Mexico this week and said national awareness of ethics-related issues has spiked since Trump was elected.

“When people don’t have faith the laws will be enforced, it breeds cynicism and disengagement in the process,” she told the Journal.

New Mexico lawmakers approved the framework for an ethics commission during this year’s 60-day session – it will go before statewide voters in November 2018 – after years of debate on the issue.

If approved by voters, lawmakers would have to pass enabling legislation during the 2019 legislative session to determine the powers and procedures of the seven-member body, which will investigate complaints against state officials, candidates, lobbyists and government contractors.

New Mexico is currently one of eight states without an independent ethics commission.

Gov. loses key staffer: One of Gov. Susana Martinez’s deputy chiefs of staff is leaving the Governor’s Office next week to work for a private law firm in Albuquerque.

Jeremiah Ritchie, who has worked in the Governor’s Office since 2011, has been one of Martinez’s top legislative negotiators and helped craft a new 22-year gambling compact between the state and five Indian tribes that was signed in 2015.

In a Friday statement, Martinez lauded Ritchie’s tenure, saying, “I appreciate so much all that he has done for our team and our state, and I wish him and his family the best in the future.”

With Martinez’s second term set to expire at the end of 2018, the Governor’s Office has seen turnover in several high-ranking positions in recent years.

After Ritchie’s departure, his job duties will be temporarily handled by Chief of Staff Keith Gardner, who has held the position since Martinez took office, and the governor’s other deputy chief of staff, Nick Piatek.

Dan Boyd: dboyd@abqjournal.com

 

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