The state Ethics Commission on Thursday dismissed a complaint against state Rep. Daymon Ely that accused him of violating the Governmental Conduct Act.
In its ruling, the commission said the allegations of misconduct lacked factual support.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas filed the complaint in July after Ely, D-Corrales, asked the state Auditor’s Office to investigate Balderas’ handling of a civil case against a solar company.
That case resulted in a roughly $1.9 million settlement but didn’t compensate customers who had been bilked by Vivint Solar.
Ely also criticized Balderas for allowing the solar company to seal records in the case and his use of outside counsel. Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, a law firm based in Philadelphia, was hired to help with the Vivint case. The firm contributed $5,000 to Balderas’ last reelection campaign.
Balderas argued Ely violated the Governmental Conduct Act by “attempting to interfere with a law enforcement prosecution” and that Ely misused his legislative authority by threatening to use his position to “constrict the authority of the Attorney General in similarly situated cases.”
In its ruling, the commission wrote that “there is no dispute” that Ely’s correspondence with the Attorney General’s Office contained “threats or implications relating to legislative action.”
But Ely argued his correspondence was not unlawful because he was “communicating in a legislative capacity only, and not as a lawyer on behalf of a client.”
In a statement on Friday, Ely called Balderas’ complaint “a shocking misuse of the Ethics Commission.” He also said he would propose a constitutional amendment that would “remove the power of protecting consumers from the Attorney General’s office” and place it in a newly created agency called the Office of Consumer Affairs.
In an email, Balderas said: “As we have seen from cases like [former state Sen.] Phil Griego, [former Taxation and Revenue Secretary Demesia] Padilla, and other current investigations, public officials and legislators should not bypass normal processes for their own benefit to interfere with enforcement; mitigating conflicts of interest will reduce political corruption.”