New Mexico House Leader Resigns on Corruption Investigation

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“I have made the difficult decision that it is in the best interest of the state,” she wrote in the letter to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. Stapleton, who began serving in the Legislature in 1995, couldn’t be reached directly for comment on Friday. Stapleton oversees career technical education for Albuquerque Public Schools, the largest school district in the state and the top employer in the city.

Democratic House leaders announced the resignation of Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton while the investigation continues into possible racketeering, money laundering, kickbacks and violations of a law governing the conduct of state lawmakers. Rep. Stapleton of Albuquerque said in her resignation letter that she “unequivocally” denies the allegations against her but decided she must devote her time and energy to fully defending herself. She has been placed on paid administrative leave by the school district.

No charges have been filed against her. Authorities are investigating Stapleton’s possibly illegal connections to a company that received more than $5 million in contracts to do business with the school district and whether she got financial kickbacks.

They executed search warrants at school offices and Stapleton’s home this week. The Albuquerque Public School District declined to comment Friday on news reports that it had been served with a federal grand jury subpoena. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday that she was “horrified” by details of the investigation and that Stapleton should resign if she is indicted.

House Speaker Brian Egolf released her resignation letter Friday along with a joint statement by Egolf, House Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos and House Majority Caucus Chair D. Wonda Johnson. “Given the weight of the allegations against Rep. Stapleton and the ongoing investigation, her resignation from the House is appropriate and in the best interest of the Legislature and the state,” they said. New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said “it is a sad day in New Mexico politics.”

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