Thursday, August 14, 2008

The right to Free Speech

marjorie says...

Apparently, the A.G. still hasn't agreed to meet with New Mexico Youth Organized or the Center for Civic Policy, to hear their perspectives about free speech.

For context, refer back to my previous blogs here, then here and then here.

From a statement by Eli Lee of CCP today:

We have yet to hear a response from the Attorney General’s office, despite a written request for a meeting. The Attorney General has made his decision clear in the media, even though he has yet to meet with us. This attempt to muzzle New Mexico's nonprofits is due a fair hearing because New Mexico's citizens have a right to know how their elected officials vote on key issues affecting our daily lives.

Attorney's John Boyd and Sara Berger also sent a letter today, to the Secretary of State, in which they request a meeting to discuss the case before a decision is made. Here is what the letter says:

We write on behalf of New Mexico Youth Organized (“NMYO”) and the Center for Civic Policy (“CCP”). We are writing in follow up to a letter we sent to your office dated June 6, 2008, and another sent by Sara Berger on July 7, 2008. In our June 6 letter we articulated the reasons why we supported your original determination that NMYO need not comply with the requirements of the Campaign Reporting Act.

It has come to our attention that you and the Attorney General have met and that you intend to issue a final determination regarding our client’s status in the very near future. We wish to reiterate that we believe the law is very clear that the First Amendment protects NMYO’s activities. We respectfully ask that we be given an opportunity to discuss this with you before a final determination is issued.

SWOP weighed in on the issue of non-profit's right to free speech today. Here is an excerpt:

Our theory of action is that we create opportunity for disenfranchised communities to insert their own voices into the crucial public debates that profoundly affect their lives. These opportunities derive from direct campaigns developed with communities of people to affect change. Making our voices heard, for us, has happened in number of ways over our 30-year history. Sometimes it’s with a bullhorn in the street, other times it's sitting at the table with policy makers, and at other times it’s through direct communication via mail, telephone or radio to decision makers.


Recently there has been controversy over direct communication from non-profits to the public about elected officials’ campaign contributions and voting records. This mail was not political. It stated the facts that we see as critical information as to why policies that are crucial to fulfilling our mission are not implemented, time and time again. None of the officials have denied the information printed on our mail pieces. Nor, to our knowledge, have any in the media asked them to respond to the information that was presented directly about them to the public.

Instead, the media would rather focus on a red herring called funding disclosure.

Let’s be clear: this is not about funding disclosure. We are very transparent and willingly share our sources of funding to anyone who asks up to the minute, as we have throughout our three decades as a 501c3.

This is about our right to free speech, and powerful interests who don’t like what we are saying.

We know the rules and we follow the rules. As a non-partisan organization we have been diligent and careful about our advocacy efforts. We are confident that in nearly 30 years of existence we have never crossed the line.

If the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the media, and the public wish to have a genuine conversation about how to improve the ethics of political actors in this state, they will find us where we have always been: leading the charge.