For the past five years, New Mexico Ethics Watch has been digging into the murky, flimsy world of public officials’ financial disclosure statements as required to be filed under the Financial Disclosure Act.

In multiple reports, we have pointed out both the deficiencies in the law and in filed disclosure statements — pushing for more stringent requirements, more stringent and meaningful auditing and setting out a path to reform either through rule-making by the Secretary of State’s Office or legislative reform of scant, outmoded requirements.

Financial disclosure statements are once again in the news, thanks to a search warrant being executed against House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton, who has since resigned, in a corruption investigation. Her 2020 financial disclosure statement lists her husband’s employment as the manager of a restaurant. But she didn’t report his employment as an income source as required for any source of gross income of more than $5,000 a year. If his earnings were above that in 2020, not reporting them is a clear violation of the Financial Disclosure Act.

Kathleen Sabo is executive director of New Mexico Ethics Watch, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and a principal leader in ethics reform in New Mexico. Tony Ortiz and Steve Terrell support the work as consultants. Ortiz is a former executive director of the New Mexico Sentencing Commission and Terrell is a retired journalist.