AG’s Ethics Bills
Gov. Bill Richardson controls which non-budgetary bills make it into the short, 30-day session. The governor issues a executive message telling the House or the Senate to consider such measures.
Phil Sisneros, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, says AG Gary King is pushing four ethics bills this year. Three of them have received messages. One probably won’t. The session began Tuesday, Jan. 19.
1) A whistleblower protection act that would prevent an employer from retaliating against a worker who discloses illegal or improper actions. This has been messaged in the House.
2) An extension of the Governmental Conduct Act to apply to all local governments. It would prohibit the use of public office or position for personal financial benefit. This has been messaged and will be carried by Sen. Tim Eichenberg.
3) As things stand, lobbyists only have to register with the secretary of state only if they’re lobbying legislators during the session. King is proposing lobbyists would have to register to lobby any state office, including the Governor’s Office, the AG’s Office, etc. They would have to register at any time, as well, not just during the session. This would be carried by Sen. Dede Feldman.
The Governor’s Office sent along this statement regarding why this probably won’t be messaged:
“At this time we feel the Government Conduct Act as well as existing lobbyist registration requirements adequately cover the people targeted under the proposed expanded definition.”
4) The final ethics measure would require anyone seeking contracts with the state entity to disclose contributions to government foundations. Potential contractors would have to disclose direct or indirect donations. Sisneros gave this hypothetical example: Say an Albuquerque public official wants to take a trip to France. He could ask contributors to give money to a zoo foundation. Then the foundation would pay for the trip to France. That cash donation would never show up as a contribution to that public official. “That can happen right now unless we close this little loophole,” Sisneros says. This has been messaged and will also be carried by Feldman.