County assessor under investigation for alleged lack of attendance

New Mexico

Six months after calls for Sandoval County Assessor Tom Garcia to step down from office for allegedly slacking off on the job, there’s now an investigation into whether his lack of attendance is actually a crime.

“If you’re elected to do a job, do your job. It’s that simple,” said Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block.

KRQE News 13 first told you about the issue in 2014. Since then, the investigation has remained ongoing.

“How many hours a week do you work sir?” KRQE News 13 asked in 2014.

“It varies. Sometimes I put in as many as 30, and others 10,” Garcia replied.

Sandoval County Assessor Tom Garcia was elected into office nearly eight years ago. However, his colleagues say during that time they’ve hardly ever seen him.

“I found out that he wasn’t showing up to work,” Block said. “I asked for an investigation and the investigation showed that he didn’t clock in for over a year.”

Not only that, but Block says Garcia has only sent four emails from his work account this year. In the past Block asked Garcia to step down, but no action was ever taken.

“I mean, we as taxpayers, we all have to show up to work to collect a check,” Block said. “If he is not showing up to work, he should not be collecting a check.”

Now, Block’s latest efforts involve State Police. He says officers went to the office last week and passed out questionnaires to employees. While it’s not mandatory for them to fill the questionnaires out, he says it will help their investigation.

“I mean common sense tells you they’re asking, you know, have you heard from him either by some type of platform…whether it’s email or cell phone or texting…or have you seen him come into the office,” Block explained.

Tuesday, KRQE News 13 tried calling Garcia, but he wasn’t in the office. In 2014, he said he wasn’t able to work a 40 hour week due to illness.

However, Block says that’s no excuse, and he’s urging Garcia to pay taxpayers back.

“Any elected official that does not fulfill their office, they need to reimburse the taxpayers for that.”

Garcia’s term as county assessor ends this month. His base salary is $75,000, but with benefits it’s more than $100,000.

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