Thursday, July 9, 2009

Denish Pushes A New Era of Strong Ethics Laws

Updated to include audio from an interview with Lt. Gov. Denish

Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish with UNM Law School Ethics Professor
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez outside the
NM Mexico Supreme Court Building in Santa Fe.

On-going scandals, grand jury investigations, and indictments of state government officials prompted Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish to call for stronger ethics laws. On Thursday, Denish (who is acting governor during Gov. Bill Richardson's vacation) told reporters she wants lawmakers to consider her new proposals during the next legislative session. Denish says she'll renew the push for a state ethics commission and other reforms.

Denish told 770KKOB News Director Pat Allen in this telephone interview, "What I want people to say about New Mexico is that we have a culture of responsibility, not a culture of corruption."

Denish told 770KKOB she'll create an independent state ethics commission. She wants the NM Supreme Court to nominate the commissioners. The seven-member panel would be approved by the legislature and the governor.

Denish also said she wants to establish an online sunshine portal. She said it would shed light on how state tax dollars are spent and create more transparency.

The proposals come just days after Republican Party Chairman Harvey Yates criticized Denish in an Albuquerque Journal guest column for not speaking out on alleged ethics problems in the state.

Yates' commentary was quickly refuted by Denish's campaign committee chair Ted Martinez on Wednesday. In his rebuttal, Martinez says Denish has been a champion of accountability in state government.

Photo credit: MG Bralley

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