‘Lawmakers, not lawbreakers’: Rep. Stapleton’s legislative investigation process

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Albuquerque) holds a lot of power at the Roundhouse. But that might not last for long after shocking allegations of corruption. Williams Stapleton has two roles. She is an APS administrator and a lawmaker. KRQE News 13 has previously reported how the Attorney General accuses her of stealing from APS. Now lawmakers are calling to see if she stole from the state.


Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton Coverage / Story continues below


Williams Stapleton has represented Albuquerque in the legislature since 1995. In 2017, the Democrat was elected to the powerful spot of floor leader. But recently, a fall from grace. The Attorney General raided her home and APS office as part of an investigation into allegations of racketeering, money laundering, and getting kickbacks.

A warrant accused Williams Stapleton of funneling APS money meant for a vendor into her own bank accounts. The accusations are troubling to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. “Sheryl is a friend of mine,” said Rep. James Townsend (R-Minority Floor Leader). “We don’t often vote alike but we still have a good rapport. But with that said, legislators are to be lawmakers, not lawbreakers.”

She’s still the Majority Floor Leader but it might not be the case for long. “Each caucus decides who their leaders are so we’re gonna have a caucus meeting this weekend,” said Rep. Daymon Ely (D-Corrales). “And I’m assuming that discussion will come up and we will be making some decisions but I don’t know that yet.”

Along with the criminal investigation at APS, a spokesperson with the House Dems said they’ve begun their own investigative process. They will look into any allegations she also funneled state funds to her nonprofits or other personal interests. State Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-Albuquerque) is specifically questioning what happened to a $170-thousand dollar appropriation made to Williams Stapleton’s Charlie Morrisey program at UNM this year. “The annual reports that should have been submitted by UNM to the Higher Education Department detailing how this state money was spent or not spent – that’s just missing,” said Sen. Candelaria.

An investigative subcommittee within the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee will work privately but if they find any probable cause of wrong-doing, there will be an additional subcommittee hearing which will look almost like a trial with House members presenting the case against Rep. Williams Stapleton. Recommendations from that subcommittee could then be moved to the full House at the next legislative session where Representatives could decide disciplinary measures, which include: reprimand, censuring, or expulsion.

But the top House Republican said he’s hoping to avoid all of this if she is criminally charged. “And that she will take the necessary steps to protect the legislature (inaudible) and do what’s right and that would be to resign,” said Rep. Townsend.

If Rep. Williams Stapleton is charged criminally, the governor said she hopes Williams Stapleton will resign. If she refuses to, that’s another process for a recall election. The Higher Education Department and UNM said they are looking into how money appropriated to Williams Stapleton’s Morrisey Hall program at UNM was spent.

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