Updated: August 02, 2021 05:44 PM
Created: July 31, 2021 08:00 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - As the corruption investigation into Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton continues, the name of an Expo New Mexico building is in question. The African American Performing Arts Center is dedicated to the former representative.
Paul Gessing, president of a New Mexico thinktank called the Rio Grande Foundation, said he’s always had concerns about Williams Stapleton’s name being on the building.
"The Rio Grande Foundation has long been concerned with public policymakers naming buildings often after themselves, or people who are still governor or in the legislature," said Gessing. "The ultimate problem is that, if you're still in office, especially, you're prone to get into some kind of scandal. We've seen that here, and in other cases, in New Mexico and around the country.”
The Bill Richardson administration rededicated the building after Williams Stapleton more than a decade ago. In a Facebook post, Gessing said that the current investigation into Williams Stapleton is just a reminder.
"We have this facility now named after somebody who is in serious legal hot water, and we don't know what the results will be, but it doesn't look good at this time,” he said. "If she is found guilty of a fraction of what she's accused of, the name should be taken off the building."
A state policy from the General Services Department, dating back to 1997, states that the cabinet secretary and the governor make the final decision on naming state buildings.
The governor's spokesperson said the state policy doesn't necessarily apply to the governor's administration and that they will evaluate the name as the situation develops.
"It's something that we noted over a decade ago, we thought it was a problem, and here we are," said Gessing.
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