May 20, 2015

BREAKING: Judge quashes recall complaint against Las Cruces councilors; Recall petition failed to get enough signatures

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A few weeks ago, ProgressNow NM launched a legal defense fund to represent Las Cruces city councilors targeted for recall by a Tea Party activist group upset over the council’s recent vote to raise the minimum wage.

Gill Sorg, Las Cruces City Councilor

Their initial recall attempt came up short and hundreds of residents asked the clerk to remove their names after allegations surfaced that petitioners paid by the recall organizers had used deceptive tactics to obtain some signatures.

After the city clerk announced that the recall had come up short, organizers filed an action in District Court demanding a recount and certification of the recall, including those names of voters who had filed complaints and sought to remove their signatures.

At the request of the councilors, we launched a legal defense fund to support local attorney Peter Goodman.  Maureen Sanders, Kate Girard and Brian Moore sought to intervene on behalf of Councilor Gill Sorg (and other councilors who were similarly situated).

After a hearing last Wednesday, Judge Mary Rosner issued her decision today.  In her 19 page decision, Judge Rosner ordered that the recall organizers’ writ be quashed and found that the city clerk had acted properly in allowing voters to remove their names after learning of the true nature of the petition.

As such, the judge found that the recall petitions lack the necessary signatures to force a recall election for Councilors Gill Sorg, Nathan Small and Olga Pedroza.

Judge Rosner also outlined the numerous deceptive tactics organizers used to obtain the signatures.  KRWG and others have previously reported that the State Police is investigating those claims.

Patrick Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNowNM, says the decision today sends the right message.

“Ironically for the Tea Party organizers who started this recall, their efforts helped to organize Las Crucens in support of these progressive champions and their votes to raise the minimum wage.  I’m glad that ProgressNow and the state’s progressive community could organize to make the case to honor the will of voters who want to see progressive champions in office pushing for progressive policies.”

A copy of the judicial order is included below.