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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Robinson, Taylor, Silva: Fallen Dem Incumbents File Sour Grapes Lawsuit Alleging Campaign Finance Fraud

Note: Also see my later post on this, published on Sunday, 8/3/08.
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Sourgrapes1_2Ah, now I get it. I posted the other day about the melodramatic whining and harumphing coming from certain blogs about the operations of certain local nonprofits and those who manage and donate to the organizations. The nonprofits have been circulating facts about legislative voting records and promoting a number of mainstream issues like expanded health care and ethics reform. Oh, horrors, not that!

Now I see that the alligators and eyes on Albuquerque were likely serving as mouthpieces for a concerted effort to create a useful reservoir of talking points. It appears they were preparing the way for the forces of business-as-usual to take action in court to try and get things back to the way they used to be. Back to when folks paid less attention to what their legislators were doing up there at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe and information sources were few.

New Mexico FBIHOP made the catch on a KRQE report that three long-time Dem incumbents who lost their June 3rd primary elections to reform Dems -- Shannon Robinson, James Taylor and Dan Silva -- filed a joint lawsuit late Friday. Among other things, the suit alleges that campaign finance fraud on the part of certain nonprofits cost the plaintiffs their seats. Get this: three legislators known for their antipathy towards campaign finance and ethics reform -- and often accused of being in cahoots with special interests -- are now claiming progressive reform candidates beat them soundly by employing unethical means. Do you hear the hypocrisy sensors going off all over Albuquerque? Woooo-woooo!

According to KRQE:

The lawsuit, filed minutes before court closed for the weekend, named the winning candidate, several nonprofit organizations and their managers and alleged illegal campaign tactics warrant voiding the election.

... It's a void election," Robinson told KRQE News 13. "When fraud so permeates the election as this, and it is done intentionally, it has to be voided."

Robinson filed the election contest on behalf of himself and the other two. Their chief claim alleges $180,000 from two nonprofit organizations was transferred to six other organizations to pay for attack ads. Shuffling the money that way was done to let the winning candidates avoid reporting the source of contributions to the secretary of state, the suit claimed.

Griego Echavez Keller
Griego, Chavez, Keller: Incumbent Topplers

I see. It wasn't that Eric Griego, Tim Keller and Eleanor Chavez beat the three incumbents through their vastly superior field operations and voter outreach. It wasn't that the three worked hard to personally knock on doors for months in their districts. They didn't win because they garnered widespread support by taking strong positions on issues that matter to voters. And, of course, the voters weren't tired of being represented in Santa Fe by politicos who had completely lost touch with them.

No, according to the vanquished incumbents, they were beaten because the winners cheated somehow. Sour grapes from bitter losers. Well, it IS hard to see your little insular kingdom crumble to the forces of people power.

RobinsonRead on:

"These people were reckless," Robinson [right] said. "They disregarded the campaign finance laws; they disregarded the ethics laws of New Mexico. They also disregarded the federal tax laws."

Those alleged violations plus other irregularities led to a "substantial difference in the three elections contested and would have changed the results had the fraud not occurred," according to the suit.

Not much response yet from the sued parties:

Two of the winning candidates, Keller and Griego, said they hadn't seen the lawsuit.  However they said Robinson and the other losers are resorting to a sour-grapes lawsuit.

And, so far, the only stories out there about the suit are the two I've cited. However, I'll bet that Monday morning's alligator post has been written for quite some time now. There's been what looks like a deliberate and longish rollout of the framing for this legal action by the champions of the monied lobbying classes. Count on it: When candidates of the people start winning, entrenched power cliques move quickly to try and stop the progress in its tracks -- before it multiplies.

You can see previous posts on the primary legislative races of those who filed suit in our 2008 Legislative Race archive.

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August 2, 2008 at 11:56 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Local Politics, Progressivism | Permalink

Comments

Its going to be interesting to see what stirring up the swamp brings to the surface. I don't think the the sour grapes are going to get the result that they want. In fact, putting ethics and campaign finance reform in the public eye just in time for the next Legislative secession might prove more beneficial to the reformers cause then to the losers.

Posted by: VP | Aug 3, 2008 8:28:35 AM

Good insight, VP.

It's useful to step back for a moment and view the larger historical backdrop here. Shannon Robinson and James Taylor were the poster boys for the old pay-to-play lobbyist-legislator axis in Santa Fe. Back in the day, Robinson was Manny Aragon's top lieutenant. After El Jefe moved on, Shannon became chief heir to what remains of that system. His backroom misappropriation of higher ed monies to fund his personal sports club was just an unusually well-publicized example of how he routinely operated.

And Taylor! Where does one begin? If you check his legislative financial disclosure reports for the last 10 years, you'll find he's reported no income. Zero. It's an open secret in Santa Fe that James lived quite nicely off the kindness of lobbyists.

In the case of Dan Silva, it has been his lobbyist son Domonic who handled the family legislative business. His appropriately named "Red & Blue PAC" funneled thousands in lobbyist cash to politicians on both sides of the aisle who would play ball -- notably Land Commissioner Pat Lyons.

Now the gravy train has stopped for these three. And so they frantically cry "fraud." It's the desperation of a bunch of dying dinosaurs defending a putrid system from which they have been the chief beneficiaries for so many years.

Posted by: luis | Aug 3, 2008 1:13:14 PM

luis has it 100 percent right.

Posted by: Old Dem | Aug 3, 2008 2:13:24 PM

Oh, hurry!! Call the Wahmbulance.

Posted by: bg | Aug 3, 2008 7:06:06 PM

Someone should let James Taylor know that craig's list is an easy and efficient way to find jobs in ABQ!

Posted by: Rex | Aug 4, 2008 2:53:53 PM