The Legislative Council Service is fighting an effort by the Attorney General to access documents related to a former state Senator facing corruption charges.
The office of Attorney General Hector Balderas subpoenaed records from the state Senate investigation that eventually led to Phil Griego’s resignation from the Senate. LCS, which handles administrative tasks for the 112-person citizen legislature, objected to the subpoena, saying state law protects the records.
Documents from each side are embedded at the bottom of this post.
Griego admitted to violating the state constitution and Senate rules with a land deal that he benefited from; the Senate voted to approve the transfer of state building that Griego went on to benefit from.
In late February, the Attorney General charged Griego with nine criminal counts, including multiple felonies. Griego defended himself in a phone interview with NM Political Report after the charges (and after saying his attorney advised him not to speak to anyone).
The Albuquerque Journal first reported on the subpoena and response by LCS.
The subpoena calls for “The complete ‘202 file’ related to HJR 8 2014, ‘Disposal of Santa Fe Surplus Land’” as well all of the records from the Senate subcommittee that investigated Griego including “all agendas, minutes, rosters, exhibits, attachments, recordings, reports, and associated materials related to this matter.”
The subpoena asked Raúl E Burciaga, the director of LCS, to turn over the documents.
Attorneys for LCS said that the documents are protected by law, including a portion of the state constitution that states legislators “shall not be questioned in any other place for any speech or debate or for any vote cast in either house.”
Statute says LCS “shall maintain rules of confidentiality, unless the legislator against whom a complaint is filed waives the rules or any part of them in writing.”
In other words, LCS attorneys argue that unless Griego agrees to release the documents, they will remain confidential.
Griego’s attorney already released the stipulation that outlined Griego’s violations and a number of exhibits.
The AG’s office filed a response in court on Monday.
The response states that the LCS’s objections were not detailed enough to comply with state law on subpoenas and says the “speech or debate clause” cited by LCS is not a valid reason to deny the documents.
The “Speech or Debate Clause does not bar pre-trial discovery of documentary evidence,” the AG’s office argues.
The AG’s response also argues that other documents are not confidential because they “constitute an element of a crime or are made in furtherance of a crime.”
Or, as the AG’s office argues, “Fraud, bribery, perjury, and the other charged crimes are not legislative acts” so the confidentiality provision of the law that pertains to legislative acts does not apply.
The AG’s office also argues that the voluntary release of the stipulation, which the office calls “the most significant portion of the investigation,” means that the rest of the investigative file is no longer confidential.