New Mexico governor’s top aide accused of ethics violation

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A former trustee for New Mexico’s retirement system for its public employees has filed an ethics complaint against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s chief operating officer.

Claudia Armijo, an attorney, has accused Teresa Casados of pressuring her to take part in voting to endorse a state Senate bill Lujan Grisham strongly backed in an attempt to eventually bring the state’s pension system out of debt, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Tuesday.

In 2020, the system had an estimated $6.6 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Armijo said Casados never explicitly told her to vote in support of the measures, but she felt an implicit threat that she would lose her job if she did not vote with the governor, according to the newspaper.

“It’s very inappropriate of her to even order me to vote,” Armijo said in a phone interview with the newspaper. “What she did was improper.”

Casados’ office did not respond to requests for comment made by the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Armijo said she was told that the State Ethics Commission will investigate her complaint.

Nora Meyers Sackett, the governor’s spokeswoman, said Armijo’s claims about Casados were unfounded. “The allegations are thoroughly unsubstantiated,” Sackett wrote in an email.

The bill proposed giving pensioners under the age of 75 an annual 2% raise for multiple years. That rate would not be a compounding rate, Armijo said, a measure that she opposed.