The office of New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has resolved a legal dispute concerning voter records through a settlement of $22,000 with a libertarian think tank. This agreement comes after the initial denial of access to voting information.
The Southwest Public Policy Institute (SPPI) first informed The Daily Signal about resolving their lawsuit regarding a denied request under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA). This act is analogous to the federal Freedom of Information Act.
SPPI president Patrick M. Brenner emphasized the significance of the settlement in conveying a message to all governing bodies. He remarked, “You are being watched, and we do not take ignoring public records requests lightly.” He emphasized that government agencies often employ tactics like stonewalling, delays, or reclassifications to dismiss requests, but the secretary of state’s office took the unusual step of attempting to disregard their request completely.
Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a far-left Democrat first elected in 2016, has a prior background as the county clerk of Bernalillo County, where she had oversight over public records.
Linda Bachman, the director of legislative and executive affairs for the secretary of state’s office, confirmed that a verbal settlement had been reached and that efforts were underway to document the agreement in writing. Bachman stated, “The SOS maintains that it did not violate the requirements of the Inspection of Public Records Act, but deemed it in the best interest of the Office and the public to settle this disputed claim without incurring further litigation costs.”
Patrick M. Brenner articulated the purpose behind their request, saying, “We were looking for voter records, all of which are subject to public inspection. We wanted to educate the public if we know which members of the public to educate.”
The lawsuit reached the settlement stage after a state court dismissed the motion by the New Mexico secretary of state’s office to have the case dismissed. Brenner underscored this outcome as a necessary step in holding public records custodians accountable for their actions and ensuring public access to government records.
Brenner stressed the importance of transparency in upholding a robust democracy and affirmed their commitment to fight for it within the boundaries of the law.