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Code of Conduct
On June 8, 2016, and becoming effective 10 days later, the Governing Body established a Code of Conduct Ordinance, pursuant to a voter mandate, that is applicable to City of Rio Rancho elected officials, appointed officials, and employees.

View (searchable PDF) the Code of Conduct Ordinance document in its entirety as well as to see Code of Conduct standards.  View the Code of Conduct in its entirety via the online Municipal Code (see Chapter 39 Code of Conduct).

Submitting Complaints

View (searchable PDF) graphic that details the complaint process.

A sworn complaint of unethical conduct may be submitted to the City Attorney's Office alleging facts which, if true, would constitute a violation of this Ordinance. The City Attorney's office will forward all such sworn complaints to the City's contract Ethics Official, which is an attorney. All complaints regarding City of Rio Rancho employees are referred to the City's Human Resources Department for follow-up.

Access complaint form (PDF/Excel).

The Ethics Official will investigate all applicable sworn complaints forwarded to them and make one of the following recommendations regarding the complaint: Unsubstantiated Claim (see definition below) under this Ordinance or Substantiated Claim (see definition below) under this Ordinance.

If Unsubstantiated Claim is the recommendation made by the Ethics Official, he or she shall produce a report reflecting their finding and detail of the investigation. An Unsubstantiated Claim shall not be forwarded to the Ethics Panel unless necessary for the determination of a frivolous claim (see definition below).

Upon the completion of an investigation, the Ethics Official may determine that a claim is Substantiated. At such time, the Ethics Official will produce a report which contains his or her findings and recommendations. The Ethics Panel shall conduct a public hearing of all Substantiated Claims and shall decide, by majority vote, if a provision(s) under this Ordinance has been violated. Penalties (see below) shall be determined pursuant to this Ordinance.  The Ethics Official shall be present at the public hearing in order to respond to questions from the Ethics Panel regarding his or her findings and recommendations. The Complaining party and the Respondent to the complaint shall be provided notice via certified mail, to any and all hearings. The Respondent and/or a legal representative shall be afforded the opportunity to respond to the complaint at public hearing.

If an individual or entity files two (2) or more Unsubstantiated complaints directed at the same individual for the purpose of harassment (see definition below) or to otherwise cause the individual public shame or embarrassment, the Ethics Official may make a recommendation to the Ethics Panel. If the Ethics Official recommends a public hearing, notice shall be provided to the Complaining party no later than fourteen (14) calendar days prior to the scheduled public hearing. The Ethics Panel shall conduct the public hearing in order to determine if the complaints are frivolous and if the complaints were intended to annoy, harass or otherwise cause the targeted individual public shame or embarrassment. If the Ethics Panel determines, by majority vote that the complaints are frivolous and intended to annoy, harass or otherwise cause the targeted individual shame or embarrassment, they may prescribe a penalty in accordance with this Ordinance.


Unsubstantiated Claim – a claim that is not supported by competent facts or substantial evidence or existent of facts and/or an allegation that is not a per se violation of the Ordinance.

Substantiated Claim - a violation of the Ordinance verified by competent facts and that substantial evidence exists to support.

Frivolous - A determination made by the Ethics Panel when two or more complaints made by an individual or entity have been determined to be unsubstantiated and contain allegations that are found to have no factual basis.

Harassment - Harassment consists of knowingly pursuing a pattern of conduct that is intended to annoy, alarm, bully or intimidate another person and that serves no lawful purpose. The conduct must be such that it would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.

Complaint Filing Timelines

No action may be taken by the Ethics Official or Ethics Panel on any complaint that is filed later than one (1) year after violation of this Ordinance is alleged to have occurred or that is filed more than six (6) months from the date of the discovery of the alleged violation, upon due diligence by the complaining party, of facts constituting a violation, whichever event occurs later.  

No sworn complaints can be submitted, or will be accepted by the City Attorney’s Office, between the fifty-sixth day preceding the City’s March regular election and the date of the March regular election or, in case of a required run-off election, the date of the corresponding run-off election.

Ethics Panel

On October 12, 2016,  the following individuals were confirmed by the Governing Body as the appointed Ethics Panel members:

Bryan Collopy (attorney)
Mary Lou Hopkins
Jo Ann Stringfield (attorney)

In the near future, the alternate panel member will be appointed/confirmed.

The Ethics Panel consists of three (3) members plus one alternate. It is desired that two Panel members (excluding alternate) will be licensed attorneys. At a minimum one member of the Panel (excluding alternate) shall be a licensed attorney. The members of the Panel shall be appointed by the City Manager subject to confirmation by the Governing Body.

The members of the Panel shall not be affiliated with City government in any capacity, including, but not limited to, employment (including employment for which the salary is in any way funded by or through the City), appointment, or election. The members of the Ethics Panel may not hold elected public office or office with any political party within the City.

Each member shall serve a term of three years, subject to reappointment thereafter. Members of the Panel shall not receive any salary or compensation for services.


If the Ethics Panel finds, by a preponderance of evidence and upon a majority vote, that an Elected Official or Appointed Official has violated this Ordinance, the Ethics Panel may impose any of the following penalties after the written findings of fact and conclusions of law:1. a civil fine not to exceed $500; or 2. a written finding of censure; or 3. a referral to the District Attorney or appropriate governmental office for commencement of criminal or other proceedings; or 4. a recommendation to the District Attorney that proceedings to remove the person from elected office be commenced pursuant to NMSA 1978 § 10-4-1 et.seq. (as amended).

Any decision of the Ethics Panel finding a violation of this Ordinance may be appealed to the Thirteenth Judicial District Court pursuant to NMSA 1978, § 39-3-1.1 (1998, as amended).

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