Looks like New Mexico
’s new Whistleblower Protection Act is about to get some exercise.
Seven months after Diane Moore first blew the whistle
on the New Mexico
Department of Health for alleged nepotism and improper hiring practices, she’ll finally see her employer in court.SFR
first published Moore’s concerns online last December; in January, Moore was involuntarily transferred within the department. Believing the transfer was retributive, Moore complained to her superiors, who she says were unresponsive. So she contracted a lawyer, Diane Garrity, and took her complaint up through the DOH ranks. Nothing changed.
In April, Moore and Garrity filed a formal complaint with the State Personnel Office, which responded last week after a nudge from Garrity. In a June 18 letter to Garrity, SPO Director Sandra Perez writes that the DOH is innocent of all accusations—largely because the DOH itself says so.
“[SPO] merely relied on what the Department of Health told them,” Garrity says, adding that she expects to file suit within the next month.
“It’s stunning,” Moore says. “Everything I’ve said is the truth; getting them to acknowledge it is different.”
One key player in Moore’s original complaint has a new job. Former DOH
Deputy Secretary Dorothy “Duffy” Rodriguez resigned
from the DOH at the
end of April. Moore alleged Rodriguez
operated a “Circle of Trust” that hired and promoted its members’
relatives. Whistleblower Bob Ortiz also implicated Rodriguez in his
allegations of fraud at the DOH.
Rodriguez hasn’t left state government, however. As of July 1, she will
step into a new, more distinguished position: the next Secretary of
Taxation and Revenue.
The current secretary, Rick Homans, says Rodriguez “brings good, solid
Homans, who will return to his former position as executive director of
the New Mexico
Spaceport Authority, is “very excited” about the
opportunity to lead the state into space. But even the director isn’t
guaranteed a seat on the first Spaceport flight (optimistically
scheduled for sometime next year).
“I’m going to be eternally hopeful that, like when you fly standby, at
some point there will be a passenger who will freak out before the plane
takes off,” Homans tells SFR
. “They’ll let them off, and they’ll look
back at me and go, ‘Rick, if you want to take his place, jump on!’ And
then I’ll get to ride into space.”