Local Progressive Non-Profits Under Fire
by fbihop, Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:09:22 PM EDT
I know this is a hyper-local diary and so will get little attention -- but for those who read it, you should question whether this is happening in your area and what you can do to prevent it from happening.
State Attorney General Gary King first sent a letter to Secretary of State Mary Herrera telling her to change the status of a non-profit. Then he said never mind. Then he flopped back again, and said he was standing by the letter from his office.
The two non-profits -- the Center for Civic Policy and New Mexico Youth Organized -- issued a statement rebutting King's letter and subsequent statements.
The United States Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that election officials are only permitted to regulate public statements that explicitly address elections. They are not permitted to regulate public statements that relate to officeholders' conduct, even though those officeholders may be running for re-election. This is fundamental to the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. The Attorney General's statement that he recognizes what can be regulated on the basis of whether it 'walks like a duck' is an indication that he doesn't understand the law in this area, and he is inviting entirely unnecessary litigation against the State of New Mexico.
That's what John Boyd, the counsel for Center for Civic Policy and New Mexico Youth Organized and of the Freedman Boyd Daniels Hollander Goldberg and Cline law firm said.
It seems remarkably similar to something that Marjorie Childress said over at M-Pyre, one of the blogs I read on a regular basis. Read what Marjorie had to say on this subject, then wonder why the AG is saying something that the Supreme Court says is fine isn't good in New Mexico.
Eli Il Yong Lee, the man who has been demonized by the Republicans and the lovers of politics-as-usual like Joe Monahan and the lobbyists, also spoke out in a statement.
"We are disappointed by Attorney General King's uncharacteristically glib assessment of a serious matter," Lee said. "At stake is the ability of nonprofits throughout New Mexico to hold elected officials accountable for their actions and to advocate for issues that are critical to their missions.
"Further, we are disappointed that the Attorney General is issuing a verdict through the media prior to his office completing its research on this matter."
If one looks at the law then what the non-profits did, one sees there is nothing illegal about it.
Jim Baca put it this way at his blog:
Even from Hawaii I am still aghast that so many legislators are complaining that non profit groups are exposing their voting records through public education mailers. They seem to think no one should know what their records are. Three legislators are even suing saying it was unfair that they lost their elections because people found out what their voting records are. Damn, this is really funny. Think about it. It is being spun so strongly that some people might forget that these same legislators take money for their campaigns from the NRA, the oil and gas industry and the pharmacuetical [sic] boys. Then, these same legislators vote for these guy's issues. Life is too short.