Public Corruption Act idea would strip convicted public officials of pensions

State of New Mexico (KRQE News 13)
State of New Mexico (KRQE News 13)

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some state legislators are looking to enact a law that strips elected officials of their pension, should they be convicted of abusing their position of power.

The measure is called the Public Corruption Act, sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen, a Democrat whose district stretches from El Dorado to Edgewood to Mountainair.

The proposed bill gives a list of crimes that, should a current or former elected official be convicted of committing while in office, their pension will be revoked.

The state’s lifetime line payments would stop coming, although the person’s contributions would be refunded to them.

The convictions that would fall under the Public Corruption Act include bribery, fraud and embezzlement.

I think an elected office is a position of trust and too often in the past, not frequently, but still too often, that trust has been abused,” Rep. McQueen said. “I think we as legislators and elected officials need to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and I think this is one we can tell the public we’re serious about doing that.”

The bill would only apply to elected officials. Rep. McQueen says he has kept the bill narrow in order to get it through the legislature but hopes to one day introduce similar legislation for appointed officials, too.

This is the third time Rep. McQueen has carried this bill. He believes that this time around, having Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, on board should help.

Plus, he says, the governor has already indicated that she will sign off on this kind of legislation.

If passed, the Public Corruption Act would apply to cases going forward and not past incidents like the cases of Dianna Duran and Phil Griego.

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