Whistleblowers receive $650K in lawsuit against CYFD

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The state of New Mexico is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars of your money to a pair of former employees. 

The husband and wife both worked for the Children Youth and Families Department. Both accused CYFD of firing them after raising concerns about department operations, including the use of an app that made department communications disappear.

“If I raised questions of concern, the general response was sort of an implication that I was just being disagreeable or not working hard enough,” said Cliff Gilmore in June 2021. 

Cliff and Debra Gilmore filed the whistleblower lawsuit against CYFD. Cliff was a spokesperson for the agency. His wife, Debra, was the director of Children’s Rights.

Among their concerns was the use of a messaging app called “Signal” which allows messages to be deleted.

CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock defended the app when KOB 4 spoke to him in 2021.

“It has helped us keep that information protected, secure and also helped us work with our families and children more effectively,” said Blalock. 

Reporter: “How regularly are messages deleted from that app?”

Blalock: “It varies and depends – there’s a bunch of different threads that are created some are specific to projects, some are specific to teams and so it just depends.”

When a New Mexico journalist asked about the app, Gilmore says he got backlash from state superiors – asking who was asking about it, and who gave the journalist the story idea.

Years later, CYFD has just agreed to settle the whistleblower lawsuit with the Gilmores.

KOB 4 has confirmed that CYFD will pay the couple $650,000. 

“These practices impact not just the department but the children and families that the organization is designed to serve,” Debra said.

KOB 4 asked for a comment from CYFD. An acting spokesperson sent us a statement saying the lawsuit has been resolved, and the department has nothing further to add.