Tuesday, September 28, 2021

New Mexico House Democrat resigns amid criminal investigation into racketeering, money-laundering

New Mexico House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, a Democrat, resigned on Friday amid a criminal investigation involving charges involving money laundering and racketeering, according to reports.

Stapleton announced his resignation in a July 30 letter, The Paper. received by, to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, which she “categorically” denied the allegations.

“It’s a decision that weighs heavily on me, and I made it after much consideration of the best interest of the people,” he wrote, adding “significant time and energy to fully defend them.” Against these allegations.

While no charges have been filed against Stapleton, officials are investigating him for possible racketeering, money laundering, kickbacks and violations of a law governing the conduct of state lawmakers, According to Santa Fe New Mexican.

Stapleton’s lawyer, Ahmed Assad told Albuquerque Journal said on Wednesday that it was too early to comment on the investigation.

“We have to do our due diligence and our own investigation,” Assad said. “Rep. Stapleton will have a comment when appropriate. It could happen sooner or later in the process.”

Officials are probing Stapleton’s potentially illegal connections to a company that received more than $5 million in contracts to do business with Albuquerque public schools, and whether he found financial loopholes.

As part of that investigation, the attorney general’s office executed search warrants Wednesday at Stapleton’s home and businesses and Albuquerque public schools, where Stapleton oversees career technical education, according to documents shown in The Paper’s report. .

Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement, “While we cannot comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation, I can assure the New Mexicans that there is a school and public funding involved in this case, so we will continue this investigation.” Will be quick and diligent to finish.” investigation.

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Stapleton is placed on paid administration by the school district, Associated Press report.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement that she was “deeply, deeply disturbed by the reports this morning about the law enforcement investigation into Rep. Stapleton,” adding that “the public’s involvement in the government” trust is seriously damaged” even in the presence of inappropriate or illegal activity, which is why public officials must always hold themselves to the highest possible standard of behavior. “

“New Mexicans expect and deserve elected officials who, regardless of party, will put the people before them. Anything less violates a sacred public trust and should be dealt with accordingly,” Grisham said. .

In a joint statement, New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf, House Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos and House Majority Caucus Speaker D. Vonda Johnson said they support Stapleton’s decision to resign.

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“Given the allegations and the ongoing investigation against Rip Stapleton, his resignation from the House is appropriate and in the best interest of the Legislature and the state,” he said.

Commenting on the investigation, New Mexico Republican Party President Steve Pierce called it “a sad day in New Mexico politics”.

“I know Rep. Stapleton personally, and we’ve worked together, but there’s no excuse for what he’s done,” he said in a statement Friday. “Rep. Stapleton must be held accountable, and we hope that the investigation and judicial process will take appropriate steps in this matter.”

Officials quoted by the Associated Press said that 11 additional district employees who are the subject of an investigation have also been placed on administrative leave.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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New Mexico House Democrat resigns amid criminal investigation into racketeering, money-laundering
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