Pueblo leader accused of exploiting position on utility board

A Pueblo leader is being accused of a conflict of interest as a member of the board for a utility in northern New Mexico.

Ron Lovato serves on the board of the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative. He recused himself from matters dealing with the tribe after he became governor of Ohkay Owingeh in January 2011.

Lovato also stepped down as CEO of TSAY Corporation, the tribe's economic development arm. A complaint, however, accuses Lovato of helping the tribe secure a $11.25 million deal with co-op for easements on the reservation.

Critics also say Lovato oversaw the job performance of co-op general manager Wayne Sowell. After the deal was sealed, Sowell's ratings went up and the board voted to extend his contract and grant him a raise.

"It’s a political year, so these things are going to come up," Elias Coriz, a co-op board member who supports Lovato, told The Rio Grande Sun.

Get the Story:
Is Co-op Trustee Conflicted? (The Rio Grande Sun 5/3)

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