New Mexico Legislature under scrutiny for self-enrichment - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

New Mexico Legislature under scrutiny for self-enrichment

By MORGAN LEE
Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Limited safeguards against self-enrichment in the nation's only unsalaried legislature are under scrutiny in the wake of a corruption trial and felony convictions against a former New Mexico state senator.

Former Sen. Phil Griego is awaiting sentencing after a jury found him guilty of fraud, felony ethical violations and other charges.

The case is a central exhibit in the campaign for a 2018 ballot initiative. New Mexico voters will consider whether to create an independent ethics commission that could shift the review of complaints against lawmakers from closed-door committees to a more public forum.

Some lawmakers say the unsalaried status of lawmakers has turned into a liability that is exploited by high-paid lobbyists. Others say citizen legislators bring needed expertise to policy debates.

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