New Mexico ethics commission drops two complaints against Egolf

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Robert Nott, The Santa Fe New Mexican
·2 min read
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Apr. 9—Two of three ethics complaints a retired judge filed earlier this year against state House Speaker Brian Egolf have been dismissed, the State Ethics Commission said in a recent letter to the complainant, Sandra Price.

The commission has no jurisdiction in the two complaints — that Democrat Egolf, a Santa Fe attorney, used his legislative office for personal gain and that he failed to discharge his legislative duties in an ethical manner.

A third charge — that Egolf failed to communicate a potential conflict of interest — is still under review by the commission's general counsel, the panel said in the letter.

The complaints revolved around Egolf's sponsorship and support of House Bill 4, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, which allows people to sue government agencies if they feel their civil rights have been violated. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed that bill into law this week.

Price claimed Egolf stood to benefit from the law because it originally included a provision guaranteeing defendants who lose their cases will have to pay the plaintiff's attorney's fees.

That provision has since been amended to leave it up to the court to decide whether attorney's fees are awarded.

Egolf has denied any wrongdoing, and his attorney, Andrew Schultz, asked the State Ethics Commission to dismiss the complaints.

Speaking by phone Thursday, Schultz said Egolf is "very pleased the commission accepted the recommendation to drop those claims." He said he is confident the general counsel will drop the third claim as well.

The commission had told Price in a previous letter it was likely to drop the two charges.

The commission said it has no jurisdiction over the complaints because of a provision in the state constitution that says legislators cannot be questioned outside the Capitol on "any speech or debate or for any vote" they cast.