The City of Albuquerque and State of New Mexico share the cost of cleaning up under Interstate highway underpasses. Unsurprisingly costs have skyrocketed since 2020 as the homeless problem has worsened and City leadership has refused to deal with the issue head-on. KOAT Channel 7 covered the issue and interviewed Paul Gessing about the problem and the costs it imposes. You can watch here.
Category: Constitution and Criminal Justice
Thanks to legal help from the Liberty Justice Center, a non-profit, public interest litigation center, the Rio Grande Foundation and its president Paul Gessing have filed a lawsuit against the City under New Mexico’s “anti-donation clause” over the City’s “donation” of $250,000 of our tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. You can read more about the case here.
“New Mexico’s constitution prevents politicians from using taxpayer funds like their own personal piggy banks,” says Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “Albuquerque’s grant to Planned Parenthood is pure politics, and the state constitution prevents that kind of abuse of taxpayer dollars.”
“Taxpayers should not be compelled to subsidize Planned Parenthood or any other private group,” said Gessing, who is president of the free-market Rio Grande Foundation. “The anti-donation clause of New Mexico’s constitution is a bulwark for taxpayers against politically motivated earmarks just like this one.”
Sadly, Albuquerque’s City Council seems to have ignored New Mexico law which clearly states that “Neither the state, nor any county, school district, or municipality … shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit, or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association, or public or private corporation …”
The Rio Grande Foundation will be in federal court this Wednesday arguing in favor of free speech against New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. You can see the court notice below and read up on the case itself here.
While elections come and go, the fight for liberty continues!
Local Albuquerque Company ProView Networks, helped Rio Grande Foundation team up with ProView StoryFile technology to allow the public to engage in a virtual environment with candidates and other public figures. The technology allows users to ask questions with the technology selecting the best match. ProView Networks produced the StoryFile conversation in Albuquerque.
The technology offers users the opportunity to sit down with a virtual version of the candidate and ask questions that are relevant to the office they are seeking, about the candidate’s background and their qualifications.
Several candidates were offered the chance to create a Proview “StoryFile” in the waning days of the campaign. Republican Attorney General candidate Jeremy Gay agreed to sit down and answer questions which highlighted everything from the role of the attorney general to his personal philosophy on
important issues in law enforcement and his own biography.
Said Paul Gessing, president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation: “The Rio Grande Foundation’s podcast Tipping Point New Mexico allows me to regularly sit down with some of New Mexico’s most important thought leaders, elected officials, and candidates to discuss the issues facing our State.
Proview/StoryFile is yet another tool that will allow the public an even more intimate way to hear from these people.”
ProView Networks, an Albuquerque, NM based company has partnered with StoryFile, based in Los Angeles, as a production partner. Through this state-of-the art interactive technology, ProView Networks is producing and telling the stories of not only political figures, but prominent people in athletics, entertainment and business as well as preserving historical and family legacies.
To learn and see more, please visit www.proviewnetworks.com and click on StoryFile. For the first time in American politics any voter can sit down with a political candidate to discuss the issues using this exciting technology. You can access it yourself here:
RGF’s president Paul Gessing sat down with KOAT Channel 7 to discuss two of the constitutional amendments that will be on New Mexicans’ ballots when they vote this fall.
Constitutional Amendment 1 would tap into New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund. Gessing’s appearance is toward the end of the clip.
A separate KOAT segment addressed Amendment 2 which would allow the Legislature to spend taxpayer dollars on infrastructure projects that would expressly benefit private interests. Here is our detailed assessment of Amendment 2.
Click here to register. Registrations are being handled by the Federalist Society, but this IS a joint event.
RGF president Paul Gessing recently sat down with Channel 7 KOAT to discuss the Gov.’s budget. The original interview covered a variety of issues within the budget but wound up being JUST about the law enforcement component.
While most New Mexicans, especially those in crime-plagued Albuquerque, support the hiring and retention of law enforcement, Gessing was actually referring to the fact that Gov. MLG’s budget has a “slight” increase in funding for Department of Corrections while the Legislature’s budget CUTS funding. The assertion is that New Mexico’s prison population is declining and therefore less money is needed.
It is all well and good to cut funding for corrections, but with violent crime at record levels in Albuquerque, it would seem like violent offenders should be filling up those prison cells…but perhaps the courts are not doing THEIR jobs? Either way, that conversation was left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Click on the image below for the story.
The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute recently filed briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Rio Grande Foundation’s lawsuit against a Santa Fe ordinance that forces nonprofits to surrender their donors’ privacy rights whenever they support or oppose a ballot initiative. The case is just the latest in a series of cases in which donors to think tanks and nonprofits have been targeted by anti-privacy mandates nationwide.
The lawsuit began in 2017 when the Rio Grande Foundation announced its opposition to a proposal to impose a sales tax on sugared soft drinks in Santa Fe. The Foundation posted a video to its Facebook page—a video it didn’t make—that urged voters to oppose the initiative. That triggered a city ordinance that requires nonprofits that spend more than $250 supporting or opposing initiatives to turn over the names, addresses, and employment information of any donor who gave even a penny for that purpose. Even though the Foundation had not spent any money on the video, city bureaucrats decided that the video must have cost that much, and therefore that it qualified as an “in-kind donation.” It concluded that the Foundation was required to put its donors’ confidential information on a publicly accessible government list.
Goldwater took up Rio Grande’s case, filing suit to argue that stripping the Foundation’s supporters of their privacy in this way was likely to scare away donors—something lawyers call a “chilling effect” on free speech rights. And we proved at trial that when other, similar organizations, have been forced to turn over their private information, their employees and supporters have suffered intimidation and harassment. That’s not news—as the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta made clear, the risk of retaliation when people have their private information made public is a real one—and it does cause people to refrain from exercising their First Amendment rights.
But the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals threw the case out earlier this year, in a bizarre holding that said people cannot bring a “chilling effect” lawsuit unless they themselves choose not to exercise their freedom of speech. In other words, the court said that because the Rio Grande Foundation intends to speak out in the future, it’s not allowed to argue that the Santa Fe ordinance will likely scare donors into silence.
That makes no sense, because, as the Tenth Circuit itself has said in other cases, the fact that someone is willing to keep speaking despite risk of punishment doesn’t deprive that person of the right to challenge the constitutionality of punishment. For example, in a 2019 case—also from New Mexico—federal courts ruled that a professor who was retaliated against for speaking out about improprieties at her school could still sue even though she “show[ed] extraordinary persistence” and refused to be silenced.
Yet in Rio Grande’s case, the court created a new rule holding that “an element of a chilled speech injury is an actual intention not to speak,” meaning that only a person who is afraid to speak, but not afraid to sue, is allowed to bring a First Amendment lawsuit. That’s illogical—and likely to slam the courthouse doors to many people and organizations who should be allowed to defend their constitutional rights.
We urge the Supreme Court to take up this case and vindicate Rio Grande’s freedom of speech.
You can read our petition here and learn more about the case here.
Here’s the video that started it all.
The Rio Grande Foundation takes donor privacy VERY seriously. We fought tooth and nail against Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s push to publicize donations to 501c3 organizations like RGF open to the public. We also litigated against the City of Santa Fe over donor privacy issues regarding work we did to defeat the soda tax a few years ago.
And, we filed an ‘amicus’ or friend of the court brief in support of donor privacy(read it here) in the Americans for Prosperity v. California case just decided by the Supreme Court. The 6-3 decision strikes a blow for privacy and free speech for the Rio Grande Foundation, our supporters, and millions of Americans.
The Rio Grande Foundation recently gained access to the transcript of a deposition on the Gov.’s decision making process relating to COVID 19 and found “the science” to be lacking. Channel 4 KOB TV’s Patrick Hayes used this information to ask the Gov.’s health advisor David Scrase some questions during the press conference this week. As you can see from the story, Scrase doesn’t exactly answer the question about “the science.”
You can see the full story below: