Las Cruces recall effort heats up in court

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The Tea Party attempt to recall three Las Cruces city councilors who supported a minimum wage increase is turning into a legal battle.  Councilor Gill Sorg, one of the councilors targeted for recall, filed a request on with the District Court on Thursday to be permitted intervenor status, meaning he would be able to represent his own interests pushing back against the recall attempt which has been fraught with allegations of fraud and misinformation to voters.

From KRWG in Las Cruces:

Las Cruces City Councilor Gill Sorg

The controversy continues over efforts to recall three Las Cruces city councilors.  The political action committee New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow is trying to get a court to force the city of Las Cruces to reinstate petition signatures that were thrown out.  More than 700 people asked the city to remove their signatures from petitions to recall city councilors Gill Sorg, Nathan Small, and Olga Pedroza. Currently, there are not enough valid signatures to require a recall election.

As KRWG first reported, the New Mexico State Police is conducting an investigation into allegations of fraud by petitioners…including statements that the petitions were to prevent the closure of a youth boxing center.

Local attorney Peter Goodman is part of a legal team seeking to intervene in the case…representing the interests of Councilor Gill Sorg.  Full disclosure: Peter Goodman’s Las Cruces Sun News columns also appear online at krwg.org.

In an earlier story, Samantha Barncastle, Legal Counsel for the Group New Mexicans for a Better Tomorrow, said petition circulators were trained on what to say when going door to door and said she hasn’t seen any evidence of fraud.

In the same story, New Mexico State Police confirmed they are investigating the allegations, but cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said in an email “because there is a large scope of information to look into, it’s going to be a process and take some time.”

After originally claiming to have secured enough petitions to recall the three councilors, the city clerk announced that they had not met that goal because hundreds of signers had signed affidavits claiming they had been tricked into signing the petitions by canvassers working for the pro-business group.

Police are investigating those allegations.

The recall group then filed in District Court asking a judge to order the clerk to count those withdrawn names.  Sorg has asked the court for permission to intervene and represent his interests as a councilor in the case.

 

Update: ProgressNow launches legal defense fund for progressive councilors under attack