A month after Phil Griego resigned from the New Mexico Senate in disgrace, the Public Employees Retirement Association is set to start sending him monthly pension checks.
Griego, who is being replaced by former Estancia Mayor Ted Barela, tells the Albuquerque Journal
he has no qualms about getting the $1,324.09 monthly retirement income, because he doesn’t believe “there was any criminal activity or anything like that” when he collected a $50,000 real estate fee on a real estate transaction he brokered between the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources
and Galiesto Street Inc's Inn of Five Graces
, owned by his friends Ira and Shariff Seret.
While Griego admits he violated provisions in Senate rules, Oath of Office and state Constitution, he insists he’s not a criminal and didn’t break any Governmental Conduct Act laws.
But SFR has uncovered a document that shows Griego may have committed perjury, a fourth degree felony in New Mexico.
Public records show that on Feb. 5, Griego filed his annual financial disclosure form with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections and Ethics Administration.
Those forms require lawmakers to report potential financial conflicts of interest, real estate holdings and other employer information.
Griego included information about working for Excalibur Asset Management Inc. as an associate broker and realtor, listed his rental properties and reporting receiving free office space
, worth about $300, from a small technology business in Santa Fe.
But, under penalty of perjury Griego signed his 2015 Financial Disclosure without ever reporting his work representing and assisting the Serets in the deal
with the energy department.
Question 11 asks lawmakers to "List each state agency before which you or your spouse represented or assisted a client during the past year". Griego wrote “N/A” – or not applicable.
The form’s last question, asks senators to voluntarily “Provide whatever other financial interest or additional information you believe should be noted to describe potential areas of interest that should be disclosed or (as applicable) you believe or have reason to believe may be affected by your official act."
Video recordings show Griego never voted on the resolution that enabled the sale
of the State Parks building in the Barrio de Analco last summer after telling reporters for months he had voted for it. Still, Griego has admitted to recruiting a sponsor to carry the legislation and personally testified in support of the measure.
Government emails SFR received through a public records request also show Griego was actively working with the energy agency to facilitate a review of the sale by the Capital Buildings Planning Commission last spring.
Griego knew he risked perjury when he completed the form. Just above his signature, the form reads: I hearby swear of affirm under penalty of perjury that the foregoing information is true, correct and complete to the best of my knowledge.
Despite knowledge of the senator’s resignation and a stipulated agreement showing conclusively that Griego admitted to brokering the deal with the energy department, it doesn’t look like Secretary of State Dianna Duran intends to refer his financial disclosure form to the New Mexico Attorney General’s office.
Ken Ortiz, a spokesman for Duran, tells SFR questions about perjury related to the Griego’s 2015 form is “outside the scope of this office's authority.”
But that conflicts with specific authority given to Duran in the Governmental Conduct Act
, which states, “When faced with suspected violations, the Secretary of State may refer those to outside agencies, such as the attorney general or the appropriate district attorney.”
Ultimately, the act states the attorney general would determine if there is sufficient cause to file a complaint.
SFR asked a representative with Attorney General Hector Balderas’ office if they would accept a referral from Duran. James Hallinan, a spokesman for the attorney general, sent SFR this statement:
"The Office of the Attorney General fully reviews every complaint received and investigates where appropriate. Should the Office of the Attorney General receive a referral relating to this matter, the public can be assured that the complaint will be fully reviewed and appropriate action will be taken."
That frustrates Viki Harrison, the executive director for Common Cause New Mexico
“Once again, the media is doing the investigative work finding out where there are violations and we have agencies that are tasked with doing this and they should be doing it,” says Harrison.
She doesn’t know why Griego didn’t disclose the fee he earned in 2014, but says lawmakers need to stop “wordsmithing" and answer the questions on the form accurately.
“Being transparent to their constituents is what they’re tasked with doing,” says Harrison, hoping in the future lawmakers will “go beyond” what is asked on the disclosure forms, which she suggests need to be reworded.
“How about just doing more than the bottom line,” she asks.
SFR has attached a copy of Griego's 2015 financial disclosure form below. Note: 2015 forms account for financial dealings the year prior year.