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New Mexico lawmaker avoids ethics hearing over committee job

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Outgoing New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf, who appointed himself to the Public Regulation Commission nominating committee, has avoided an ethics hearing by resigning.

The State Ethics Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing last Friday after a lawmaker complained about Egolf's self-appointment. The meeting was cancelled after the Democrat resigned from the nominating panel, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The move became public after Egolf and other members of the nominating committee voted Friday to send Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham a list of nine candidates to choose from as she looks to appoint members to the Public Regulation Commission.

A constitutional amendment approved in 2020 changes the PRC from a five-member elected body representing districts around the state to a three-person panel appointed by the governor and confirmed by the New Mexico Senate.

Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia of Albuquerque filed a complaint in August, saying Egolf had violated the law and the state Constitution with his self-appointment.

Garcia in a statement issued over the weekend called Egolf's action a dereliction of his duties as speaker to appoint himself.

A letter from the ethics commission stated the allegations that Egolf violated the state Governmental Conduct Act were supported by probable cause and that a hearing would determine whether a preponderance of the evidence established such a violation.

The letter also explained that Egolf had 10 days to correct the alleged violation, with his resignation being one way to settle the matter.

Egolf wrote in his resignation letter that "it has been my plan for some time to step aside after the committee completed its first round of work and to leave the position that I currently hold on the committee open to be filled by the next speaker of the House."