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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Bad Guys Win (for Now): AG King & SOS Herrera Side with Shannon Robinson on NMYO; Shannon's Tirade on Senate Floor

MherreraNo surprise here. Secretary of State Mary Herrera (right) decided to accept Attorney General Gary King's advice about changing New Mexico Youth Organized's legal status. Herrera evidently made her decision based on King's secretive determination, using undisclosed criteria, that the non-profit NMYO had crossed some undefined political line with its mailings about the voting records and campaign donors of certain lawmakers months before the June 3rd primary election.

Letter from the Secretary of State
Herrera issued her letter yesterday instructing Keegan King, the Director of New Mexico Youth Organized, to comply with the reporting requirements of a political committee rather than a nonprofit. You can read her letter here. Note that Herrera couldn't even get the letter's salutation right -- starting the letter with "Dear Mr. Keegan." The brief letter reveals no details about why the decision was made or the criteria used to make it. It simply says NMYO "appears" to be acting like a political committee, and gives the nonprofit ten days to explain and correct its alleged "violation" and complete and file documents that were attached to the original letter.

Herrera doesn't even bother to name or describe what she calls the "apparent violation," perhaps because she really doesn't know what it is. What we know is that defeated status quo insider Shannon Robinson complained to the AG back in May about NMYO. We know that the AG's office quickly jumped in response and sent Herrera an inaccurate, horribly researched letter two weeks before the primary. I'm sure that Robinson probably thought that would help him in the election. It had become quite clear that he was way behind.

We know that the AG's office then asked the SOS to ignore the letter and that there was a odd lull after that. We know that AG King finally did directly advise Herrera in a private meeting last Friday. And that today she jumped, without explanation or definition of the "violation" committed by NMYO. Nobody from the SOS's office or the AG's office has to date met or spoken with anyone representing NMYO or the Center for Civic Policy (its parent organization) about the matter.

Response by the Center for Civic Policy
Eli Il Yong Lee, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Policy, the parent group of New Mexico Youth Organized, issued this statement yesterday in response to the SOS's letter:

"The Center for Civic Policy and New Mexico Youth Organized strongly disagree with the decision made public today by Secretary of State Mary Herrera and Attorney General Gary King. We will pursue all legal remedies at our disposal.

With our educational mailings, we upheld our responsibility to make sure New Mexicans knew what actions have been taken on issues important to them by their elected officials. Any effort to restrict this legal activity would muzzle New Mexico nonprofits from doing the very important job of keeping public officials accountable. Public information is just that…public. Any attempt to hide this kind of information is not in the interests of the people of New Mexico. It is surprising that any public official would actually advocate for this irresponsible course of action."

Fishy1If It Swims Like a Fish ...
So, is Mary Herrera caving under the same status quo political pressure that may be steering Attorney General Gary King on this matter? Nobody knows, but this whole thing sure looks fishy. And if it swims like a fish and blows bubbles like a fish, it probably IS fishy, right?

Don't forget that the press release issued by AG King to explain how he came to his legal position said, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. And I think we know a duck when we see one." Imagine an attorney general in any other state making a similarly vacuous and unprofessional statement to the press about a decision that could impact the majority of nonprofits operating in the state.

Windmills1Super Heroes to the Rescue in the Windmill Tilt
I've been a Democrat all my life. It pains me that two of the top Democratic elected officials in the state seem to be acting without a logical, legal explanation or any semblance of fairness in furthering Shannon Robinson's Quixotic quest. It's hard for me to believe they take the paranoid Robinson seriously when he blames his thorough drubbing at the polls on some nefarious plot.

Everybody knew Robinson was probably finished when he was called out repeatedly by the Albuquerque Journal for steering legislative appropriations to the rugby team he coaches. He was caught in the act abusing public funds. He had no convincing explanation. Voters noticed.

But in Robinson's mind, it's Shannon against the world, and Mary and Gary are the super heros he calls forth to help him protect truth, justice and the American way. Well, if the American way means voting the wishes of your campaign donors, ignoring the pressing needs of your constituents and refusing to accept the results of an election.

Scare Tactics
Make no mistake about it. This particular attack may be against NMYO, but it sure seems designed to scare, intimidate and threaten other nonprofits from doing their jobs in educating the public about the behavior of their elected officials. The hit job also seems aimed at gobbling up the resources, time and attention of a number of nonprofits to lessen their effectiveness in educating the public.

JumpsharkShannon Jumps the Shark
You'd think that Shannon Robinson's reprehensible behavior on the Floor of the State Senate last Friday, as well as other crazy statements he's made of late, would be highly embarrasing to both King and Herrera. This is the point of view they are both apparently defending.

Check out these gems reported by the NMI's Trip Jennings as Sen. Shannon Robinson's utterances on the Senate Floor last Friday during the New Mexico Special Legislative Sessiion:

Robinson said, "I'm on a manhunt. And I am going to track it down. Follow the money.... These nonprofit watchdogs are anything but that. They don't have a right to be a nonprofit. They are going to have to face charges of tax evasion. This is a scheme to avoid taxes We are going to see in the next few months ... the state Supreme Court will back us up on that. I think the AG will back us up.

During his speech, Robinson appeared to accuse Sen. Gerald Ortiz Y Pino of participating in a conspiracy of silence. "Sen. Ortiz y Pino will not comment," Robinson said. "He knows if he talks about it he can get indicted."

Robinson then turned questions toward Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque. McSorley would have none of it, however. "I dont know of anything of what you are talking about. I have no idea of what you are talking about," McSorley said to Robinson. "There you have it," Robinson said.

Here's the Albuquerque Journal's account of what they term Robinson's half-hour "tirade" on the Senate Floor. Quote:

In his blistering tirade, which included references to the devil, George Soros and the FBI, Robinson also accused city and state agencies of wrongdoing but gave no details. And he asserted that two senators have ties to the nonprofit, the Center for Civic Policy.

... On the Senate floor Friday, Robinson said, "That organization put out obscene literature. It shows a picture, supposedly of me, taking the oath of office with my left hand. Now only the devil swears in with his left hand." He also said Soros, a philanthropist and social activist, was financing the group — a charge Lee denies. [emphasis mine]

... McSorley said, "I don't think anybody has any idea about what you're talking about here. Robinson's response: "Okay. There you have it. And you know what? If you live by the sword you die by the sword. And if you lie under oath, eventually what happens is, the FBI shows up."

You have to give Robinson credit for chutzpah. He personally attacked two of the most ethically responsible and highly respected Senators in the chamber, right to their faces. You may or may not agree with the politics of Ortiz y Pino and McSorley, but there has never been even a whiff of scandal connected to either of them. Yet somehow, in Shannon's mind, they're in on the plot to get him. It's a pretty wide-ranging plot, after all.

The Plot Thickens
And now the "conspiracy" is spreading -- to federal races in New Mexico -- according to Robinson's rambling statements in an interview with Peter St. Cyr just before Shannon headed to Santa Fe for the Special Session. You really must listen to the entire audio file yourselves to get the full flavor of just where Robinson is headed with his "conspiracy" talk. It's no longer merely wacky. It's no longer merely odd. It's downright scary in my book. Listening to this interview made my hair stand on end. Maybe that's it. Maybe people are afraid to go too hard on him, you know?

See our previous post on this matter and the lawsuit filed by Robinson and two other losing primary candidates. That post contains a list of links to other posts related to the attack on the primary winners and various nonprofits. Also see another recent post that provides a statement by the Southwest Organizing Project on the attacks by Robinson.

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August 19, 2008 at 01:17 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Corporatism, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Government, Justice, Local Politics, Progressivism | Permalink


Robinson, Taylor and Silva can't blame mail pieces for their losses. They all lost by very significant margins, especially Taylor and Robinson. Mail does not produce these type of margins. Keller, Griego and Chavez prevailed because they had loyal volunteers and good staff knocking on doors in these 2 Senate and House District giving voters a choice between Lieberman type (turncoat) Democrats and Democrats they could be proud of. Thats all it took...New Mexico has a history of voters only really paying attention to federal and state-wide politicians. I think most New Mexicans feel that their State Senator and State Representative are in line with their principles and values on party identification alone. The voted out Senators proved them wrong. Party affiliation went out the window when they were in Santa Fe getting wined and dined by lobbyist. Voters were given a choice this primary election and voted for their interests. ******Congratulations Senator Keller, Senator Griego and Representative Chavez*****

Posted by: Rex | Aug 19, 2008 11:06:49 AM

Can't believe this idiot has ever served in a public office. I blame Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration put forth policies that were detrimental to the mentally ill and kept them from getting the services they needed to help their illness. Shannon Robinson is an unfortunate product of Reagan.

Posted by: PSYCHO SHANNON | Aug 19, 2008 11:53:43 AM

Bush and conservatives have been determined to limit the free speech of nonprofits for a long time now. The have targeted groups that surprise put out issue advocacy that disagrees with King Bush. Now we have Democrats (DINOs?) agreeing with Bush's views and trying to stifle the truth from getting out. I have lost any respect had for Herrera and King.

That mp3 of Robinson being interviewed is weird weird weird. He defends Debbie Rodella of all people. Her and her husband are big crooks and everyone knows it. The bits where Robinson says the plot is spreading to fed races is too much. Does he think Tinsley and White are being picked on? Some Democrat he is.

Posted by: Circus World | Aug 19, 2008 12:13:23 PM

Another excellent look at this fiasco. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. Did you read Monahan on this-he can't keep from cackling with his lobbist pals. He then goes and links to the Club for Growth ad. He's not bothered by that is he. He and the bosses are bothered that their money empire is being toppled.

We should all write the AG and SOS and let them know we see through their crap. We need to make sure they don't win another election ever. They are loyal to the powerful not the people.

Posted by: Old Dem | Aug 19, 2008 12:27:05 PM

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