New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf speaks during the opening during the opening of the legislature, Jan. 17, 2017, in Santa Fe, N.M. Egolf is under fire for failing to mention on a state financial disclosure statement that he represented a marijuana producer in a lawsuit against the state. (Craig Fritz, Associated Press)

New Mexico GOP calls out House Speaker for failing to disclose cannabis ties

Egolf says he complied with disclosure requirements and that he sees no conflict in acting on marijuana-related legislation that is not specific to his client

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Republican Party of New Mexico criticized the Democratic leader of the state House of Representatives on Tuesday for not disclosing his work as an attorney for a licensed marijuana producer as the Legislature considers several cannabis-related bills.

State GOP spokesman Tucker Keene said House Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe failed to mention on a state financial disclosure statement that he represented a marijuana producer in a lawsuit against the state.

Egolf says he complied with disclosure requirements by listing each state agency before which he has represented a client, and that he sees no conflict in acting on marijuana-related legislation that is not specific to his client.

“The financial disclosure is complete and accurate and there is absolutely no conflict,” he said.

Egolf represents marijuana producer Ultra Health as well as an individual marijuana patient in an ongoing lawsuit that challenges the state limit on the number of plants that each producer can grow, arguing that the cap is arbitrary and prevents an adequate supply.

“The relationship he has with a prominent member of the industry is worth disclosing,” Keene said. He said the GOP has not filed an ethics complaint with the state.

The Legislature is considering a long list of marijuana-related bills and constitutional reforms. They include proposals to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use and to revise the state’s decade-old medical marijuana law to eventually raise the maximum plant count per producer as more patients emerge.

Egolf has referred those proposals to committees for deliberation but not yet voted on the measures. He said he has no plans to recuse himself and will vote in the best interest of constituents from his district.

“I come into the Legislature and the lawyer hat goes off and I make a decision in every case based on what is the best policy,” he said.

Financial disclosure statements are undergoing new scrutiny after the Secretary of State’s Office this week began posting online forms submitted by hundreds of state officials. In recent years, the information had been available upon request only.