What We Do
New Mexico Ethics Watch, founded in 2016, is a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life in New Mexico. NMEW believes that ethical governance and good governance go hand in hand – necessary elements to create a just society and economic opportunity for all. NMEW advances its mission through research, litigation, policy advocacy, and media outreach.
New Mexico is fortunate in that there are a number of entities in the state that already are charged with enforcing the statutes and codes that are meant to ensure ethical behavior. Unfortunately, the enforcing entities do not always act with alacrity. NMEW will use the existing complaint and notification processes in the state to bring possible ethical violations to the attention of the proper authorities, and will work to ensure that complaints that have been filed do not slip below the radar or get swept under the rug.
Everyone is concerned that our elected officials and other state officials act in the public interest, not their private interest. Yet New Mexico’s disclosure requirements are so anemic that it is hard to tell whether a conflict exists. NMEW will work to establish a more robust disclosure regime in the state so that the public can better monitor whether those running the state are working for the people, or for themselves.
New Mexico is one of a handful of states that do not have a statewide ethics commission, a shameful lack of accountability in a state that is regularly beset by ethics scandals. Yet merely having an institution called an “Ethics Commission” will not be enough – a toothless or shell commission would do more harm than having no commission at all. It is imperative that an ethics commission have the following core elements:
- be grounded in the state Constitution;
- be independent of influence from any one branch of government;
- have enforcement power, including independent investigatory and subpoena powers, and the ability to initiate an investigation absent a complaint;
- operate so that the commission is transparent in its operations, especially in the manner in which it handles complaints, including regular reporting on the activities of the commission;
- and process complaints in a timely fashion.
Who We Are
Kathleen Ann Sabo, Executive Director – Kathleen received her B.A. from Fordham University in New York City, and her J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. A Connecticut native, Kathleen moved to New Mexico in 1991 and is a member of the New Mexico Bar. Concentrating chiefly on legislative matters, she provided legislative analysis to the New Mexico State Senate Judiciary Committee (Sen. Michael Sanchez, Chair) and New Mexico Legislative Reports, and served as the Head Majority Analyst for the New Mexico State Senate. Kathleen has been a long-time consultant to the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), performing legislative analysis and undertaking numerous special projects, including representing the AOC on a legislative task force and steering committee (2015’s SJM 4). She has also consulted with New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) and Tourism Department. Kathleen served for many years as the host and producer of Albuquerque’s KUNM Public Radio’s weekly public affairs program, The KUNM Call-In Show – garnering a 2015 First Place Top of the Rockies award from the Society of Professional Journalists for General Broadcast Excellence, along with the broadcast team – as host and producer of public affairs and cultural special programs and election coverage on KUNM, and as an independent radio host and producer. She also served as the Executive Director of Santa Fe’s Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, and has consulted with numerous entities on business, media, music and recording projects as the principal of Voice and Verse. She has taught as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico. Kathleen is an award-winning singer/songwriter and composer, and a writer of poetry and prose. She is a mother of two who is an avid sports and exercise participant and coach, gardener, ocean and animal lover, and frequent and intrepid traveler throughout the U.S. and beyond.
Lucy River, Director of Policy & Communications – Lucy is the former Program Director of Leadership Santa Fe–a civics program located at the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce–where she also provided marketing and communications services. As owner of a consulting practice, for which she became a 2015 Santa Fe Business Woman of the Year Nominee, she has been involved in government affairs since 2013, primarily with JD Bullington Government Relations. Her interest in policy, law, and the penal system began prior to that when she worked as a city Police Officer, and later as the Policy & Legislative Outreach Director for the New Mexico Corrections Department. Having seen the inner-workings of government at a local and state level first-hand, accountability in government has become a driving factor in her life and career-path. Lucy is a law student at the UNM School of Law, has a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from New Mexico Highlands University, and a Diploma in Speech & Drama from the DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama in Ireland, where she was born and raised. Lucy is a published poet and author, a blue belt in jiu jitsu, and mother to an eight year old girl.
Heather Tanner, Director of Advancement – Heather Tanner joined New Mexico Ethics Watch in 2017 to engage stakeholders and supporters in partnerships that create meaningful change in New Mexico. She is the former Director of Advancement for the International Folk Art Alliance, where she worked with public and private partners to support a global network of artist entrepreneurs creating social change through the preservation and celebration of their cultural heritage. Her nonprofit experience includes a variety of fundraising and direct service roles at Youth Shelters and Family Services, a nonprofit serving homeless youth in Northern New Mexico. Heather is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a Bachelor’s degree in Art and the Global Community, an interdisciplinary degree
Our Board Of Directors
The Board of New Mexico Ethics Watch reflects NMEW’s commitment to a non-partisan approach to state ethics. The NMEW Board draws on the experience of individuals who have longstanding experience with ethics and good governance in the state.
Justice Richard Bosson (retired), Chair
Phil Davis, Secretary
How To Donate
Thank you for your interest in supporting New Mexico Ethics Watch! Your support is critical to helping us in our mission.
New Mexico Ethics Watch is presently under the fiscal sponsorship of the New Mexico Community Foundation. Donations to support NMEW’s work can be made in one of the following ways:
1) BY CHECK: You can send a check made out to the New Mexico Community Foundation, with “donation to NM Ethics Watch” written in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to the New Mexico Community Foundation at 135 W Palace Ave, Suite 301, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
2) ON LINE: To donate on line, follow these steps:
a. Go to the following link: NETWORK FOR GOOD
b. Put the amount of the donation and its frequency in the “Donation” field;
c. Important step! Further down the page, where it says “If you have a special purpose for your donation, please let us know”, chose New Mexico Ethics Watch from the drop down menu under “I want my donation to be designated toward”;
d. Click “Donate Now”.
Donations to NMEW through the New Mexico Community Foundation are fully tax-deductible. You will receive an acknowledgement from them for your tax records. Once NMEW achieves its independent 501(c)(3) status, donations will be able to be made directly to us. But for now, we are ever so grateful that the New Mexico Community Foundation is helping us to raise the ethical bar in New Mexico.