In February I sent two letters to New Mexico state Senator Jacob Candelaria regarding his proposed amendments to the state’s Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). In the letters I described how his bill (Senate Bill 299) would have weakened New Mexico’s whistleblower protections. The letters are available here and here.
Whistleblowers – employees who disclose information about waste, fraud, abuse of power, or dangers to public health and safety – expose the truth and often save taxpayers money. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers of 5,400 companies worldwide found that whistleblowers detected more fraud than corporate security, audits, rotation of personnel, fraud risk management and law enforcement combined. It is therefore troubling that the New Mexico legislature introduced a bill to weaken whistleblower rights at a time when the state faced an $80 million deficit.
Senator Candelaria subsequently introduced a revised version of his bill that addressed most of my concerns. But the bill still had the potential to weaken protections for whistleblowers. After I sent the letters, NMPolitics.net ran an article that examined the bill’s shortcomings. The article quoted several people, including me:
Walden took issue in her letter with the requirement that potential whistleblowers first exhaust administrative remedies: “administrative grievance mechanisms can sometimes be hostile forums for whistleblowers,” she wrote. She expressed concern about institutionalizing delays and processes that aren’t favorable to whistleblowers.
The revised bill failed to pass before the end of the state’s legislative session and is tabled for now.
To learn more about New Mexico’s current whistleblower protections, visit the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility’s New Mexico Accountability Report Card.