Jeremy Farris, Exec. Dir/NM Ethics Comm. & Gov. Garrey Carruthers, Ethics Commissioner

Air Dates: November 9-11, 2019

An Update On The Newly Formed New Mexico Ethics Commission

This Week’s Guests: JEREMY FARRIS, executive director of the Ethics Commission and Gov. GARREY CARRUTHERS, Ethics Commissioner & former NM governor

November 7, 2019 -- This week, REPORT FROM SANTA FE presents an update on the newly formed New Mexico Ethics Commission, featuring Jeremy Farris, executive director of the Ethics Commission, and Gov. Garrey Carruthers, Ethics Commissioner and former NM governor, Dean of the NMSU Business School, and President/Chancellor of New Mexico State University.

For years, New Mexico had been one of only 6 or 7 states in the US who did NOT have an Ethics Commission. After many failed attempts by the legislature and by many governors to establish ethics commissions, legislators made it a priority, and put the establishment of an independent New Mexico ethics commission on the ballot as a constitutional amendment. The measure passed with 75% of the vote and is now in the startup phase of the commission.

Farris and Carruthers explain the membership of the commission and how the members have been chosen. They also describe the many structural protections for the commission’s autonomy. Carruthers and Farris also detail the hearing process for complaints and list the governmental agencies over which the commission will have jurisdiction.

There are also many statutes over which the commission has jurisdiction, among them are the campaign reporting act, the financial disclosure act, the lobbyist regulation act, the gift act, and the state ethic’s commission act. There is one constitutional provision that the commission can speak to and that is the anti-donation clause, Article IX, Section 14, of the Constitution. The commission has the ability to adjudicate complaints that allege violations of those statutes, but only civilly. Anything that is criminal, any criminal provisions of those statutes, has to be referred either to the Attorney General’s Office or an appropriate District Attorney.

Governor Carruthers points out, “I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we have an educational mission as well. One of the things that is expected of the commission and the staff is to do appropriate the amount of educating of all employees subject to the act.”

Jeremy Farris adds, “The existence of the commission itself is a massive achievement for the state. And what the commission will ultimately do, will empower the public to hold their legislators and state employees and those that do business with the state, those that finance elections to hold them accountable…. What this does, is it will ultimately empower everyday New Mexicans to interrogate, and to investigate, and to insure that their government is working in the public interest.”