New Mexico’s House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton sent a letter of resignation on Friday, July 30, amid a criminal probe into her alleged corruption.
Stapleton, No. 2 Democrat in the state House, is facing an investigation into her possibly illegal connections to a company that received more than $5 million in contracts to do business with the school district where she works and whether she got financial kickbacks, according to The Associated Press.
The authorities have earlier this week executed search warrants at Stapleton’s home and the Albuquerque Public Schools offices as part of the criminal investigation into alleged racketeering, money laundering, illegal kickbacks, and possible violations of a law governing the conduct of state lawmakers.
Stapleton, a former teacher, began serving in the New Mexico Legislature in 1995 and is a member of the House’s education committee. She also oversees career technical education for Albuquerque Public Schools, the largest school district, which serves about 20% of public school students in the state.
In her letter of resignation sent to Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Stapleton “unequivocally” denied the allegations against her, but decided she must devote her time and energy to defending herself.
“I have made the difficult decision that it is in the best interest of the state,” she wrote.
House Speaker Brian Egolf, who released the letter on Friday, said that Stapleton’s resignation from the House is appropriate and in the best interest of the Legislature and the state, given the weight of the allegations against her.
The state’s Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said that there is no excuse for what Stapleton has done, and she must be held accountable, and “we hope the investigation and judicial process will take the proper course in this matter.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said Thursday that she was “horrified” by details of the investigation.
The investigation came at the request of Schools Superintendent Scott Elder, who wrote to the state attorney general’s office in April, saying he suspected Stapleton was violating state law because of her dealings with a company that provides computer software to the district.