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Rio Grande Foundation vs. Maggie Toulouse Oliver

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!

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Rio Grande Foundation offers new tool for the public to engage political candidates

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: 

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RGF’s Gessing talks constitutional amendments w/ KOAT Channel 7

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.

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2022 Supreme Court Roundup: a Rio Grande Foundation joint event with New Mexico Federalist Society

From the free market/conservative perspective this was one of the best US Supreme Court sessions in history. If you are interested in finding out more about the fallout from this session and what it means for November and the future of our country, you don’t want to miss this exciting luncheon event.
Speaker: Prerak Shah of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Previously, Mr. Shah has served Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Chief of Staff for Senator Ted Cruz, and Chief Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Date and time: Friday, July 22, 2022 at 11:45 a.m.
Location: Seasons Rotisserie and Grill, 2031 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104.
Cost: $30, which includes a buffet lunch (the entrees will be green chile chicken sandwiches, BBQ sandwiches, and portobello mushroom wraps).

Click  here to register. Registrations are being handled by the Federalist Society, but this IS a joint event.

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Constitution and Criminal Justice Legislature Notable News Tax and Budget Top Issues

RGF discusses Gov.’s budget on KOAT 7

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.

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Constitution and Criminal Justice Local Government Notable News Top Issues

Rio Grande Foundation appeals free speech case to the US Supreme Court

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.

 

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RGF (and freedom) win on donor privacy at SCOTUS

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.

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Media uses RGF information to ask MLG health advisor tough questions on “the science”

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:

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Constitution and Criminal Justice Legislature Notable News Tax and Budget Top Issues

A domestic war on private prisons isn’t helpful

The following article written by the Rio Grande Foundation’s Patrick Brenner appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican on March 10, 2021. It also appeared in several other New Mexico based outlets.

Contractor-operated prisons, or so-called private prisons, have been vilified among progressives, even though their success in preparing inmates for productive engagement after their incarceration should be lauded by all social and political ideologies as part of the solution to social justice reform.

House Bill 40, which would eliminate all privately managed correctional facilities in New Mexico, has been making its way through the Legislature this session.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to end new contracts between the Department of Justice and contractor-run corrections facilities, which almost exclusively house foreign citizens convicted of federal crimes. Contractor-run correctional facilities perform a valuable service. They help control overcrowding in publicly run prisons while providing more and better rehabilitation opportunities. Typically, inmates are safer, as rates of assault were lower at contractor-run facilities than rates in publicly managed prisons.

Opened in 1998, the Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs is a contractor-managed facility operated by GEO Group on a former World War II training base. As with all correctional facilities in the United States, it is managed in compliance with standards set by the American Correctional Association. The facility was most recently reaccredited in 2015 with a perfect score.

The facility provides inmates with training, work programming, recreation and educational opportunities. GEO’s in-custody and post-release “continuum of care” programming, developed by experts in criminal justice, substance abuse, psychology and other areas, keeps residents engaged for positive change and is critical for them to be successful once they serve their sentence and to avoid reoffending.

A study from the Rand Corporation found inmates who participated in correctional education programs were 43 percent less likely to recidivate than inmates who did not. And, often, state budget cuts hit prison programming first, while private contractors have flexibility and can invest their own resources to continue to do what is best for those in their care.

While visiting another GEO Group-managed facility in New Mexico, I met residents and staff who spoke highly of their experiences with the programming offered. Many residents have struggled with substance abuse challenges and require acute counseling and rehabilitation programming to help overcome their addiction. According to the Sage Neuroscience Center, all of the top 10 causes of death in New Mexico can be at least partially attributed to drug and alcohol abuse.

Program residents must complete the Residential Drug Abuse Program as part of their sentence. With new executive orders underway and the threat of HB 40, these programs could be shut down, potentially forcing these individuals into a jailhouse general population where they would not be able to get the services they need to survive and thrive after they serve their sentence. Revoking important substance abuse programs would destine many of these people to the damning cycle of ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, harming not only themselves but also their families and local communities.

In short, all contractor-operated facilities follow the same protocols policies and procedures as publicly run facilities under the New Mexico Corrections Department. Furthermore, the contractors have strict oversight of their operations that include on-site monitors, something the government facilities and the state lack.

Most importantly, as our nation shifts its corrections paradigm to highlight judicial reforms and inmate reentry, we should leverage all of the successful tools at our disposal to provide inmates with the care, attention and training they need inside facility walls — whether contractor run or publicly run — in order to be well-functioning members of society when they rejoin the public.

Continuing to wage war on contractor-run prisons doesn’t solve any problems or help inmates. If a program works, it shouldn’t matter who is managing it. By working together, we can rethink our prison system for the benefit of everyone.

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Is DOJ Settlement Causing Crime Increase in Albuquerque?

KOAT recently did an excellent story detailing problems with the court-ordered agreement with the Department of Justice that the City of Albuquerque has been under for several years now.

The agreement has cost taxpayers $20 million to pay for training, equipment, staffing and a court-appointed monitor and, while it is hard to prove causation, violent crime in the City has increased by 53 percent.

Watch the full story here. Gessing appears at the end of the Story.