Anti corruption bill would up penalties

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — House Bill 13 pre-filed by Representative Nate Gentry, (R) Albuquerque would increase penalties for state employees, elected and appointed officials convicted of felony corruption.

Specifically the bill would mean a lifetime ban on lobbying or contracting with the state. It would also allow for an increased prison sentence of up to one year.

"If you're convicted of a felony you can't vote or own a firearm so in my mind they shouldn't be able to come back and benefit from lobbying elected officials and receiving state contracts," Representative Gentry said in a phone interview.

This is the third year in a row Gentry has introduced an anti-corruption bill.

He said it had bipartisan support, passing the house unanimously before it died in the Senate after lawmakers ran out of time.

A bill he co-sponsored with Senator Payne in the 2012 session did make it to the Governor's desk though.

"One of the provisions we did get passed in 2012 was the provision that allows prosecutors and judges to forfeit the pensions of corrupt officials," he said.

The new law though and Gentry's current bill, if it passes, do not apply retroactively.

That means the corrupt officials like former Public Regulation Commissioner Jerome Block Jr. and former State Senator Manny Aragon get to keep their pensions.

It is something that does not sit well with Gentry.

"From my point of view people shouldn't get the benefit of these benefits of tax payer dollars when they violate the public trust in such a significant way," said Gentry.

Even though his bill would not impact people already convicted the Representative believes it could go along way in preventing this type of corruption from happening in the future.

"I think by enhancing these penalties its going to send a clear message that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior anymore," Gentry said.

He is hoping the bill will receive early consideration since he pre-filed it.

The 2013 legislature starts on January 15, it is a 60 day session.

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New Mexico (change)

New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.
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Governor: Susana Martinez
Lieutenant Governor: John Sanchez
Attorney General: Gary King
Secretary of State: Dianna J. Durán

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