Monday, August 11, 2008

A.G.: "this is my position"..."but I need to research whether I'm right a little more"

marjorie says...

Toward the end of last week, there were rapid-fire developments in the case of the non-profit mailers. The A.G. released a press release in response to Trip Jennings' article in the NMI quoting the Secretary of State's office that they had been instructed to set aside a May 22 letter from the A.G. that said the tax status of a local non-profit should be changed to reflect a political campaign organization.

In his press release Friday, A.G. Gary King confirmed that his office had asked the Secretary of State to give them further time to research the legal issues surrounding what non-profits can and can not do, before following the previous advice of the A.G.:

"...Before they made a decision to disregard or follow the AG's advice, the SOS was asked to let the AG's office closely examine the CCP's claims and report back. That is where the issue stands today."
But that confirmation was buried in the middle of assertions that Gary King stands by his office's original letter directing the SoS to change NMYO's legal status.

Why the Attorney General gave legal advice in the first place if he needed to conduct further research first is beyond me, much less why he continues to stand by that advice while acknowledging that he continues to do research. Does he think NMYO's rights aren't worthy of proper consideration? Could one of you explain it to me?

Wait. Attorney John Boyd sort of did, in his statement as attorney for the Center for Civic Policy and NMYO. Released in a statement Saturday, here is what he and his colleague Sara Berger had to say:

"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."

Trip and Heath Haussamen have been covering the story over the weekend. See the A.G.'s press release described more fully here. You'll see what I mean about how King's statement is a classic denial and affirmation at the same time.

Trip's follow-up story covering the statement Saturday from CCP, John Boyd and Sara Berger is here.

And the Sunday Journal had an interesting article about CCP here.

Trip's article on Friday links to the A.G.'s original letter in May, the one he stands by now even though he needs more time to research the legal issues.

If there's one letter to read, its that one. Check it out for yourself. Barely more than a page, it seems to base its entire position on the review of a defunct website.

Eli Il Yong Lee expressed disappointment about King's approach over the weekend, due to his "glib" remarks in the press release he sent out Friday. I agree with Lee. If the A.G. is going to recommend that an entities tax status be changed, the least he and his office could do is adequate research.

This entire episode makes me wonder about the relationships/friendships that exist behind closed doors, that the public knows nothing about.

FYI: I work for a 501c3 and am aligned with CCP so I clearly have a position in this case. But I welcome any and all disputes of anything I write here at m-pyre. I think I'm fair, and am more than willing to engage. Others in the blogosphere are less transparent, but thats what you get from someone who's forte is gossip. You know the fabled aristocracy of New York, immortalized in literature and television? The kind that mimic'ed the class structure of England, operating through whispers and back room deals? That's what some of these guys and their minions remind me of.