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Friday, November 07, 2008

Conservation Voters New Mexico Weighs in on Dismissal of Frivolous Lawsuit

Conservation Voters New Mexico and the CVNM Action Fund issued the statement below in response to the dismissal of the lawsuit against them and other nonprofits and individuals that was filed by Rep. Dan Silva, Sen. Shannon Robinson and Sen. James Taylor. The three former legislators were defeated in the June 3, 2008 Democratic primary by reform candidates Eleanor Chavez, Tim Keller and Eric Griego, respectively. The dismissal order was issued by District Court Judge Linda M. Vanzi.

The defeated lawmakers claimed in their filing that there was a wide-ranging conspiracy between certain nonprofits and the victorious candidates to defeat them "in their primary elections using fraud, corruption, acts of intentional misconduct, and other unlawful conduct." The suit sought to have the results of the three primary elections overturned, and the losing candidates declared winners

Statement of Conservation Voters New Mexico:
Judge Linda Vanzi has granted all motions to dismiss the frivolous lawsuit filed by Shannon Robinson, Dan Silva, and James Taylor against Conservation Voters New Mexico (CVNM) and other parties following those legislators’ defeat in the June primary election.

“We are pleased and redeemed that the judge has dismissed this baseless complaint,” said Sandy Buffett, Executive Director of Conservation Voters New Mexico. “These legislators lost their seats because the voters spoke and voted against entrenched and out-of-touch incumbents who had consistently sided with the polluters and industry special-interests over the protection of clean air, clean water and public health.”

CVNM is organized under a 501(c)4 structure, with an affiliated political action committee (PAC) the CVNM Action Fund, allowing the organization to engage in limited, non-federal electoral activity.

“The CVNM Action Fund did indeed work as a PAC to defeat those legislators based on their anti-environment voting records and we are proud to have replaced them with pro-environment champions,” explained Buffett. “Despite the vindictive lawsuit that attempted to distract us, we rolled up our sleeves again this fall to elect another wave of pro-environment challengers in the general election.”

This fall, CVNM Action Fund voter contact included making over 50,000 phone calls, going door to door to over 6,000 households, and placing radio ads on over ten NM radio stations on behalf of endorsed candidates. CVNM Action Fund provided campaign resources to Steve Fischmann (SD37), John Sapien (SD9) and Tim Eichenberg (SD15), as well as Rep. Jeff Steinborn (HD37), Rep. Nate Cote (HD53), Bill O’Neill (HD15), Jack Thomas (HD60) Ben Rodefer (HD23) and several others. CVNM Action Fund also ran independent campaigns in the Public Regulation Commission races, successfully reelecting Jason Marks but falling short in efforts to elect Rick Lass.

17 out of 20 CVNM-endorsed candidates won their elections, including two pro-environment Republican incumbents Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort (SD19) and Rep. Kathy McCoy (HD22). Among the 20 endorsements, 16 are Democrats, 3 are Republicans, and 1 is from the Green Party.

“Combined with wins from the primary, we are proud to have replaced a total of five anti-environment incumbents with pro-environment champions to the State Senate and several new pro-environment leaders to the State House. Now, the environmental community can move beyond playing ‘defense’ in the Roundhouse against powerful polluting special interests and can pass strong, pro-active laws that protect New Mexico.”

Although the CVNM Action Fund was outspent over 6 to 1 by oil and gas-funded political committees in various state races – 85% of CVNM-endorsed environmentally-minded candidates won their election while it appears that none of the oil and gas PAC-backed candidates won their races.

The CVNM Action Fund has been a registered PAC with the NM Secretary of State since 2004. The nonpartisan mission of the CVNM Action Fund is to elect pro-environment candidates and to work to defeat those elected officials who vote against the protection of our air, land, and water. CVNM Action Fund aims to elect a pro-environment majority in NM by 2013.

Also see the statement about the dismissal of the lawsuit released yesterday by the Center for Civic Policy, another nonprofit named in the suit.

November 7, 2008 at 10:56 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Environment, Ethics & Campaign Reform | Permalink

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