State ethics commissions tasked with investigating lawmakers for bad behavior are in a tricky position when they have to ask those same lawmakers for funding year after year. New Mexico’s Ethics Commission is not yet fully staffed or fully funded for 2020 after receiving only $500,000 from legislators last session.
The state’s brand-new Ethics Commission has been open to receive complaints for about a month now. Executive Director Jeremy Farris said he hopes the commission will not have to continue to go to legislators for funding each year.
"So it is a bit of a structural problem for the ethics commision to go hat-in-hand every session, particularly for supplemental funding if the commission doesn’t receive enough appropriations for an operating year," he said.
Farris is seeking more money from the Legislature to make it through this year.
For 2021, the Governor allocated $1.24 million for the ethics watchdog in her proposed budget, but the Legislative Finance Committee suggested about one-fifth less.
Government transparency nonprofit Common Cause New Mexico said automatic recurring funding for the commission is an investment that would improve public trust.
This story is part of the project: Your N.M. Government. Funding for our legislative coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the New Mexico Local News Fund and KUNM listeners like you.