Attorneys fill remaining spots on New Mexico Ethics Commission
The New Mexico Ethics Commission selected Ron Solimon and Jeff Baker on Friday to fill the remaining two spots on the seven-person panel.
Solimon, a Republican, is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and has a law degree from the University of New Mexico. He is former director of the Center for Lifelong Education at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.
Baker, an independent, is an Albuquerque lawyer and managing partner of the Baker Law Group. He has represented local governments and dealt with laws that the commission will have jurisdiction over.
"We're very lucky," Commissioner Stuart Bluestone said after the meeting. "We had a lot of good candidates apply."
The commissioners spent most of Friday meeting interviewing nine candidates for the two seats. They also set a deadline of Sept. 1 to receive applications for an open executive director position and plan to interview candidates Sept. 13.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura swore in the newly formed commission July 1.
New Mexico has seen a series of high-profile corruption scandals involving public officials in recent years, prompting good-government groups and some policymakers to campaign for years for a state ethics watchdog. Last year, 75 percent of New Mexico voters backed a constitutional amendment to create an ethics commission.
Earlier this year, legislators passed a bill, signed by the governor in late March, to create a seven-member panel to oversee the state's laws on campaign finance, lobbying, financial disclosure rules and other areas of government conduct.
Lujan Grisham appointed the commission's chairman, retired judge William F. Lang of Albuquerque. The two Democratic appointments were Stuart Bluestone, a Santa Fe attorney and former deputy Attorney General, and Frances Williams of Las Cruces, a mediator and equal employment opportunity trainer.
Republican leaders appointed Judy Villanueva of Carlsbad, who has worked as an administrator for several healthcare organizations, and Garrey Carruthers, former New Mexico governor and, until last year, chancellor and president of New Mexico State University.