About Leadership Staff

Patrick M. Brenner, Director of Giving

Local Government Notable News Open Government Top Issues

RGF Files Public Records Lawsuit Against City of Albuquerque

(Albuquerque, NM) – The voters of Albuquerque voted against Democracy Dollars in November of 2019, and the Rio Grande Foundation played a pivotal part in the defeat of the ballot measure. Furthermore, the Rio Grande Foundation won an ethics complaint against the Mayor for his use of the City’s website ( in which he specifically called for voters to approve Democracy Dollars and other bond measures.

Almost six months later, the Foundation has filed suit over a lack of transparency and openness associated with Mayor Tim Keller’s decision to violate the law.

Specifically, the Rio Grande Foundation requested a reasonable collection of text messages and emails sent to and from specific City employees leading up to the posting of Mayor Keller’s pleas on the City’s website to vote “YES”.

According to the Rio Grande Foundation, the public records request was filed under New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records law and accepted by the City in December of 2019. After dutifully paying the invoice to receive the first portion of these records, the City of Albuquerque has failed to produce any records in response to the request from over five months ago.

Patrick Brenner, a Policy Analyst with the Foundation, filed the original request. Mr. Brenner has left no less than six voicemails and has sent dozens of emails and messages through the City’s open government portal imploring the City to fulfil its duty to provide public records.

On May 12, 2020, after exhausting all other avenues to obtain these public records, which includes receiving assistance from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government when Director Melanie Majors sent a letter of complaint to no avail, the Rio Grande Foundation filed a legal complaint in District Court against the City.

In the lawsuit the Foundation alleges that Ethan Watson, City Clerk, and the Custodian of Records, Yvette Gurule, are creating artificial delays in order to delay production of these public records. Early in the process, the Foundation emphatically requested confirmation from Mr. Watson and Ms. Gurule that these documents were not being destroyed. To date, no such confirmation has been received.

The Foundation recognizes that the ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic may have caused delays later in the request process. However, the Coronavirus does not excuse any governmental body from its obligation to timely respond and provide public records requested in accordance with the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act.

Click here to see a copy of the lawsuit that was filed.


Taxpayer Protection Pledge

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In an effort to protect taxpayers in the aftermath of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the Rio Grande Foundation sent a letter to candidates for legislative offices requesting they sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The letter was sent as follows:

Dear New Mexicans,

As a member of the New Mexico Legislature or a candidate to hold that office, one of your primary goals is to help New Mexicans get back to work. This downturn has been driven partially by the economic shutdown associated with the Corona Virus, but also in part by steep decline in oil prices.

Whatever the cause of the downturn, New Mexico government plainly spent beyond its means in recent years and has plenty of spending to cut before tax hikes are even considered. While the economy remains largely shut down and the start of our economic recovery remains unknown, we do know that New Mexico’s economy faces a steep challenge that will not be assisted by tax hikes on businesses and other hard-working New Mexicans.

I want you to pledge to the people of New Mexico not to raise your NET taxes as a result of the current economic downturn. In practical terms, this means no tax hikes through the end of the 2021 New Mexico legislative session.

The candidates were asked to respond to the request and pledge to not increase taxes as a result of the economic downturn. For legislators and candidates interested in signing the pledge, kindly write to and mention the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

State Representative Candidates who have signed the pledge:

Dinah Glenda Vargas (R)

for State Representative District 10

Adrian Anthony Trujillo, Sr (R)

for State Representative District 11

Kayla Renee Marshall (R)

for State Representative District 13

Ranota Q Banks (L)

for State Representative District 15

Ali Ennenga (R)

for State Representative District 15

Antoinette Bernice Taft (R)

for State Representative District 16

Scott Goodman (L)

for State Representative District 17

Kimberly Ann Kaehr-Macmillan (R)

for State Representative District 17

Michael Eugene Hendricks (R)

for State Representative District 20

Paul Ryan Mckenney (L)

for State Representative District 21

Stefani Lord (R)

for State Representative District 22

Ellis C Mcmath (R)

for State Representative District 23

Robert S Godshall (R)

for State Representative District 27

Robert Jason Vaillancourt (L)

for State Representative District 28

Thomas Ray Stull (R)

for State Representative District 28

Adelious De Stith (R)

for State Representative District 29

Randall K Sobien (L)

for State Representative District 30

John L Jones (R)

for State Representative District 30

Steven Ray Penhall (L)

for State Representative District 31

J Scott Chandler (R)

for State Representative District 32

Isabella Solis (R)

for State Representative District 37

William Parrish Kinney (L)

for State Representative District 38

Rebecca L Dow (R)

for State Representative District 38

Luis M Terrazas (R)

for State Representative District 39

David E Hampton (R)

for State Representative District 43

Jeremy B Myers (L)

for State Representative District 44

Helen M Milenski (L)

for State Representative District 45

Jay C Groseclose (R)

for State Representative District 46

Gail “Missy” Armstrong (R)

for State Representative District 49

John Foreman (R)

for State Representative District 52

Ricky L Little (R)

for State Representative District 53

Cathrynn N Brown (R)

for State Representative District 55

Candy Spence Ezzell (R)

for State Representative District 58

Greg Nibert (R)

for State Representative District 59

Giovanni Coppola (R)

for State Representative District 68

Nathan M Dial (R)

for State Representative District 70

State Senate Candidates who have signed the pledge:

William E Sharer (R)

for State Senator District 1

John Stahlman Clark (R)

for State Senator District 9

Candace Thompson Gould (R)

for State Senator District 10

Michaela M Chavez (R)

for State Senator District 13

Mary Kay Ingham (R)

for State Senator District 14

Bill Tallman (D)

for State Senator District 18

Ryan Alexandra Chavez (R)

for State Senator District 18

John Douglas Mc Divitt (L)

for State Senator District 19

Gregg William Schmedes (R)

for State Senator District 19

John C Morton (R)

for State Senator District 20

Mark David Moores (R)

for State Senator District 21

James S. Williams (R)

for State Senator District 28

Gregory A Baca (R)

for State Senator District 29

Joshua A Sanchez (R)

for State Senator District 30

Crystal R Diamond (R)

for State Senator District 35

Kimberly A Skaggs (R)

for State Senator District 36

Joseph C Tiano (R)

for State Senator District 39

David M Gallegos (R)

for State Senator District 41


Constitution and Criminal Justice Local Government Open Government Top Issues

Rio Grande Foundation sues City of Albuquerque for Open Meetings Act Violations

(Albuquerque, NM) – On Friday, March 13, 2020, the City Council of the City of Albuquerque announced that it would be holding a closed meeting the following Monday, March 16, 2020. At that meeting which occurred this past Monday, the Council amended its Emergency Powers Ordinance which has been on the books for several decades.

The Emergency Powers Ordinance contains numerous controversial provisions which, under New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act, residents of Albuquerque have a right to participate in with their members of the City Council.

The language of the Open Meetings Act is very simple. It states in part that, “…all meetings of any committee or policy-making body of the legislature held for the purpose of discussing public business or for the purpose of taking any action within the authority of or the delegated authority of the committee or body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times.”

The Rio Grande Foundation asserts in the lawsuit which has been filed in New Mexico district court that the City has violated the New Mexico Open Meetings Act by holding a City Council meeting March 16, 2020 without proper notice and without conducting such according to the provisions of the Open Meetings Act therein violating the Due Process owing to the citizens of Albuquerque.

Furthermore, the decades-old Emergency Powers Ordinance to which several amendments were made is itself unconstitutional. The Ordinance gave the Mayor power to restrict sales of firearms and ammunition. These provisions which were not amended on Monday violate New Mexico’s Constitution, which states:

“No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.”

Said Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing, “The Rio Grande Foundation understands that we are in a crisis situation right now, but laws like the Open Meetings Act and our State and Federal protections on the right to self defense were intended for crises.”

The Foundation’s lawsuit states that both the Open Meetings Act and the long-existing firearms restrictions violate New Mexico Law and should be considered void.

Click Here to View the Complaint as Filed


Paul’s July 18, 2018 Interview on KSVP Radio

On this week’s interview, Paul discusses:

  • Eddy County adopts Right to Work. What can they expect? Sierra and Roosevelt counties are considering Right to Work as well. What’s going on with them? Does Gov. Martinez support Right to Work? What is the State of New Mexico doing in the wake of the Janus decision at the US Supreme Court?
  • The issue of private prisons has suddenly become unpopular due to the furor over President Trump’s immigration policies. Is that fair?
  • Is New Mexico on its way to becoming like California?

Download MP3 File


Paul’s July 11, 2018 Interview on KSVP Radio

On this week’s interview, Paul discusses:

  • The refinancing of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express train. Is this good or bad? Why did they do it?
  • Right to Work crushes it in terms of jobs in June.
  • San Juan County introduces Right to Work, but a great deal is happening on that issue.
  • RGF launches “Fact of the Day” project on free trade. Paul and Tim have a robust discussion of free trade and why tariffs could have an especially negative impact on New Mexico.

Download MP3 File


Paul’s July 5, 2018 Interview on KSVP Radio

On this week’s interview, Paul discusses:

  • The brain drain is sapping New Mexico of its youngest, smartest people.
  • New Mexico’s unemployment rate has dropped hugely under the Trump Administration.
  • That said, if Trump continues with the trade war, it could have significant, negative impacts on New Mexico.

Download MP3 File


Paul’s June 20, 2018 Interview on KSVP Radio

On this week’s interview, Paul discusses:

  • Eddy County will introduce Right to Work on Tuesday.
  • Crude oil and liquefied natural gas exports are having a big, positive impact. Paul shares a lot of information on how oil and gas exports are growing rapidly. Paul also shares who those trading partners are and where our exports are going. Lastly, he explains how LNG exports are helping China clean the air.
  • New Mexico gets downgraded by Moody’s. Paul explains what happened and why.

Download MP3 File


Paul’s June 6, 2018 Interview on KSVP Radio

On this week’s interview, Paul discusses the results from New Mexico’s primaries and the dismal economic performance of Las Cruces (and relative performance of New Mexico’s major cities) in terms of job creation over the past year.

Download MP3 File


Paul’s May 24, 2018 Interview on KSVP Radio

On this week’s interview, Paul discusses:

  • What Paul is doing in Alaska and some common aspects of the Alaska and New Mexico economies.
  • Chaves County went Right to Work becoming the 4th county in New Mexico to do so. What does this mean? What are the next steps both in Chaves County and beyond?
  • A company named Holtec is looking for approval to put a nuclear storage facility in Southeast New Mexico. What does this mean and what kind of opposition has arisen?

Download MP3 File