Good, if belated, start for city IG


The delay in filling the position of inspector general suggested city officials weren’t serious about keeping promises made in 2018 following audits that revealed allegations of bid-rigging and the mishandling of public funds by organizers of the now-defunct Country Music Festival.

The person they eventually picked to fill the position proves they are serious.

Charles Tucker has exactly the kind of experience needed to create a new position that will provide the kind of oversight councilors envisioned and the public demanded after the music festival scandal.

Inspectors general are the unsung heroes of government. They may get paid by the state, but they work for the people. And they are often the only ones in government with both the independence and authority to tell leaders when they have gone astray.

And so, it’s no surprise that our last president was not a fan. Donald Trump fired the IGs for Intelligence (Michael Atkinson, who was investigating Trump’s dealings with Ukraine);  Transportation (Mitch Behm, who was investigating conflict-of-interest allegations against then-Secretary Elaine Chao); Defense (Glenn Fine, who had been picked to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee); Health and Human Services (Christi Grimm, who reported on shortages and testing delays at the start of the pandemic); and State (Steve Linick, who was looking into allegations that then-Secretary Mike Pompeo misused staff time for his personal benefit).

Trump supporters loathed inspectors general then. Now, they eagerly await any reports that can help feed their narrative of the “Biden crime family.”

Just like the federal IG system, which was created after the Watergate break-in, the city position was also born from scandal.

An investigation by the state auditor found that more than $1.8 million in public funds had been mismanaged by both city officials and the volunteer group that was organizing the annual music festival. It and other investigations alleged bid-rigging, wage theft from city employees who worked unpaid overtime and a concerted effort at the top levels of city government to hide what had been done.

An audit by the McHard Firm found, “there is probable cause to believe that criminal violations have occurred,” but nobody was ever prosecuted. Two employees were fired and former City Manager Stuart Ed was not far behind them. The festival was discontinued.

It was under those conditions that the new inspector general position was created. The delay in filling the position means that particular mess has been cleaned up. But the conditions that allowed for it to happen likely have not.

Tucker comes to the job with the experience necessary to make up for lost time. He started in the Army, first at Fort Knox, where he helped secure the estimated 147.3 million ounces of gold stored there, and later at White Sands Missile Range. He comes into the job with 22 years as an inspector general in both the public and private sectors.

While Tucker has the authority to investigate complaints, his most important work may be in establishing protocols and safeguards that prevent waste and fraud from slipping through the cracks.

If given the independence needed to do his job correctly, Tucker has the opportunity to create a new position that will continue to serve the residents of Las Cruces after he’s gone.


Walter Rubel can be reached at

Las Cruces City Hall, inspector general