Governor Says Lawmaker Must Go If Charged In Kickback Probe

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A leading New Mexico legislator should be prepared to resign if she is indicted in an investigation into possible racketeering, money laundering, kickbacks and violations of a law governing the conduct of state lawmakers, said New Mexico’s Democratic governor.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was “horrified” by details of the investigation into Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton's connections to a company that had contracts with the school district where the Albuquerque-based Democrat works, she said Thursday.

The governor has not yet read through a search warrant affidavit outlining allegations, but "if there’s an indictment, she should immediately resign and her colleagues should call for that very same thing,” Lujan Grisham told a news conference at her offices in the state Capitol building.

Williams Stapleton has been placed on paid administrative leave by Albuquerque's school district and could not be reached immediately for comment Thursday by phone or email. Her district salary is about $80,000 per year.

Albuquerque Public Schools placed on administrative leave 11 additional staff who are subjects of the investigation, district spokeswoman Monica Armenta said in a news release. Employees placed on paid leave include administrators, teachers and clerical staff. They were not named, and salary information was not made available.

The probe examines activities dating back to 2006, meaning other staff who had already left the district might be investigated as well.

Authorities executed search warrants at the Albuquerque Public Schools offices and Stapleton’s home this week as part of an investigation into criminal allegations.

No charges have been filed against Stapleton, the No. 2 Democrat in the state House and a member of the chamber’s education committees. Stapleton, a former teacher, began serving in the Legislature in 1995.

She also oversees career technical education for Albuquerque Public Schools, the largest school district in the state and the top employer in Albuquerque. The district serves about 20% of public school students in New Mexico.

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Attanasio is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow Attanasio on Twitter.