New Mexico AG seeks range of new laws

Chris Rizo Jan. 9, 2009, 10:58am

Gary King (D)

SANTA FE, N.M. (Legal Newsline)-New Mexico Attorney General Gary King is seeking comprehensive ethics reform and protections for whistleblowers as part of his legislative agenda, the Democrat announced Friday.

King said he is seeking a $500,000 appropriation to fund a 10-member, bipartisan state ethics commission that would be charged with investigating ethics complaints against state officials and employees, lobbyists and government contractors.

The proposal -- which mirrors legislation passed unanimously last year but with just $250,000 in funding -- will be sponsored by state Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque.

A campaign finance law sought by the attorney general would limit the amount of campaign contributions that can be given to candidates, political action committees and political parties.

The limits being proposed by Feldman are $2,300 for non-statewide candidates and $5,000 for statewide candidates, while PAC's will be limited to receiving no more than $10,000 from any donor.

Separate legislation would prevent lawmakers from being paid as lobbyists for one year after leaving the Legislature.

The proposal would parallel current law that prevents former state employees from representing anyone for pay before their former state agencies for one year. State Sen. Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, will carry the bill.

For whistleblowers, King wants to protect public employees from being retaliated against if they report in good faith suspected violations of law by public officials or employees. The legislation will be introduced by state Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces.

"I know this is an ambitious package of ethics proposals, but I sense there is keen interest among many legislators to move forward aggressively this year with major new ethics legislation," King said Friday. "I certainly intend to work hard to help ensure their success, and I believe these bills will enjoy broad public support."

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