Sen. Griego faces questions in building sale; S.F. lawmakers say facts omitted before vote

Phil Griego

Updated

One week before the end of the current legislative session, Sen. Phil Griego has resigned from his District 39 state Senate seat.

His lawyer, Diego Zamora, said he submitted letters of resignation Saturday to the chief clerk of the Senate and the Secretary of State's Office.

In a statement given to The New Mexican, Griego wrote that he's resigning over allegations that in 2014 he "unintentionally and unknowingly -- violated an obscure provision of the New Mexico Constitution governing the timing of actions by citizen-legislators in their private business lives. ..." (Some background on that can be read HERE)

Further, Griego wrote, "that alleged violation is now being used as a political weapon in potential threats against me and my Democratic colleagues, and could even result in causing damage to the people of my district."

In the three-age statement, Griego said:

"I will NOT let my situation become a political and campaign tool to the harm of my Democratic colleagues.

"I will NOT let my situation be an excuse to cause harm to my constiutuents and neighbors in District 39.

"I will NOT let my situation be just one more weapon in the [arsenal] of those whose concern for the well-being of New Mexicans is not as important as a possible political victory on election day."

UPDATE: 12:45 pm

The Senate clerk just read Griego's letter of resignation.

Some more from Griego's statement: "Throughout this lengthy and exhaustive process there has been a continual question about the interpretation of the rule affecting this matter and a question about the interpretation of the rule affecting this matter and a question about whther or not I actually violated this rule. As a practical matter, I decided a debilitating and lengthy fight in the hearing system would not serve me or anyone well and the outcome was far more destructive than was worth it. 

UPDATE: 12:52 pm

Because Griego's district includes parts part of six counties -- Santa Fe, San Miguel, Lincoln, Bernalillo, Torrance and Valencia -- the county commissions will nominate replacements for Griego. Gov. Susana Martinez will then chose his replacement. 

And because Republicans dominate or have strong presences in some of those counties, it's likely that Republican Martinez will have at least one Republican to choose from. 

I'm not sure at this point if this can be accomplished before the end of the session.

UPDATE: 1:28 p.m.

I just attached a copy of the Stipulated Facts and Ethical Violations that Sen. Griego signed early this week.

In it, he acknowledges that he violated Article 4, Section 28 of the state Constitution by accepting a commission from Galisteo Street Inc. in the sale of state property to a bed and breakfast near the Capitol.

That section of the Constitution prohibits "any member of the legislature during the term he was elected nor within one year thereafter [being] interested directly or indirectly in any contract with the state ... which was authorized by any law passed during such term."

Griego also admitted to violating the Senate Oath of Ethical Conduct in which he swore he would "ethically and with integrity discharge the high responsibilities placed upon" him and "scrupulously avoid any act of impropriety or any act that gives the appearance of impropriety."

Also I've attached Griego's actual letter of resignation submitted today.

UPDATE 2:19 p.m.

Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle released a statement about Griego. It basically says nothing -- and they've told other senators to say nothing as well:

"Sen. Griego's stipulation speaks for itself. We have no comment and have instructed all of the members of the Senate to do the same."

So there you go.

Before that statement was issued, Sen. Bill Sharer told my colleague Milan Simonich, "Oh, that makes me sad. I don't want to talk about that." 

That might be all we get on the record from senators today.

I've also talked to Griego's lawyer, Diego Zamora, who told me:

"It's a very sad day for the people of New Mexico, especially the Senate," he said.

"But the character of [Griego] is showing [in his resignation]. He's accepting responsibility for his own actions. He did not want to put the Senate, the citizens of District 39, his family or his fellow Democrats through a battle on the Senate floor."

UPDATE 5:09 pm

Not to be outdone by their counterparts in the Senate, House leaders released this about an hour ago.

“Speaker Don Tripp and I would like to echo what the Senate has said on Sen. Griego’s resignation,” said House Democratic Leader Brian Egolf. “Senator Griego’s stipulation speaks for itself. We have no comment and have requested all of the members of the House of Representatives to do the same.”

I'll keep everyone updated with any further no-comments.

There will be more in tomorrow's New Mexican.