The Santa Fe Review

A Journal of Commentary and Reportage

copyright 2004 by George Johnson

A Stroll Along Shirley Maclaine Boulevard . . .

Camino Cruz Blanca, photo by George Johnson

Part 1. Rebecca's House and Ludwig's Castle
Part 2. The Chamber of Commerce's (Not So) Secret Candidate
Part 3. David Pfeffer's Letter and Mayor Delgado's Award
Part 4. Tom Mills and the Elusive Qualities of Life
Part 5. The Great Masquerade: Memories of the 2002 Campaign
Part 6. Why Nature Abhors a Vacuum: Political Coverage, Santa Fe Style

(Brief Interlude: What the Water Budget Really Means)

Part 7. Into the Heart (and the Soul) of Santa Fe
Part 8. Mr. Miller's Smoking Gun
Part 9. The Journal Follows the Money (and a Visit from the Berardinelli Robot)
Part 10. The Demagoguery of Matthew Ortiz
Part 11. The Thornburg Companies and United Way
Part 12. The Archeological Impact of Rick Berardinelli
Part 13. A Visit to Rio Rancho Viejo
Part 14. A Gunnslinger Launches an Election Eve Attack
Part 15. The Undertaker's Smile (The Return to Ludwig's Castle)
Election Day Postscript
Part 16. In the Matter of Shelly Gunn

March 1, 2004

Part 15. The Undertaker's Smile (The Return to Ludwig's Castle)

Drive to the east end of Alameda then across the Santa Fe River bridge and you might feel that you have entered Berardinelli country. The fence surrounding the yard that sticks out like a wedge between Alameda and Canyon Road (where you sometimes see a llama and a donkey grazing along the Acequia Madre) sports two Berardinelli signs, one for each direction. This is the home of John Midyette, a prominent architect who also invests in Eastside real estate. Continue uphill on Camino Cabra, past Cristo Rey Church, and you will see two more Berardinelli signs, both on rental properties (one vacant) owned by a man who lives on the Southside, in District 4.

A lefthand turn onto the upper stretch of Canyon Road would immediately lead into hardcore Heldmeyer territory. But continue instead up Cabra, taking a left just before Los Miradores, the condominium complex developed by the Zeckendorf Company (Nancy Zeckendorf is a Berardinelli contributor), and then left again onto Camino de Cruz Blanca. It's Berardinelli again, one sign on a house under construction, and another at 1300, the unsold former home of Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger, who now lives at the top of the avenue.

Upper Cruz Blanca has become a very prestigious address. Residents include Rick Beradinelli's brother, David, a personal injury lawyer (Santa Fe New Mexican February 25, 2004); Congressman Tom Udall; and his father, Stewart Udall, the former Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. There is (on a cul-de-sac called Joaquin Lane) real estate investor Robert Berkelo, a $1,000 Berardinelli donor. If Upper Canyon Road is the place to buy a million-dollar house and still have an authentic Santa Fe experience, annoyances and all, upper Cruz Blanca is where you go to be left alone. The local neighborhood association's biggest worry has been preventing as many people as possible from using the public trails. (I'll be writing more about this after the election.)

Last Sunday morning, on what could briefly have passed for a crisp spring day, I headed up that way and parked again at the city trailhead across from Ludwig's Castle. I walked past the gate into Ponderosa Ridge and up the dirt driveway that leads to the wooden steps marking the foot of Atalaya trail. My destination this time was the top of Talaya,

the conically shaped peak next to Atalaya that forms such a prominent part of Santa Fe's eastern backdrop. Many people have come to call this Picacho, which simply means "peak" in Spanish, but as I have written elsewhere, there are reasons to believe that name is wrong.

Leaving the first footprints since the last dusting of snow, I spent the next hour ascending a lesser known side trail to Talaya's summit, then stood on the granite outcropping where the writer Mary Austin's ashes were scattered seventy years ago. The view was even more magnificent than usual. A thick layer of clouds had settled along the Caja del Rio plateau and down into White Rock Canyon. Sticking up like islands in the foam was the chain of dormant volcanoes stretching from Diablo Canyon south to Tetilla Peak. Further west in the Jemez, snow covered the triangular face of Chicoma Peak, and Redondo rose majestically above the Valle Grande.

Closer in the sight wasn't so exalting: the road scars climbing up the side of Cerro Gordo, as carefully platted as ATV tracks; the barren roadcut left when the driveway for Sierra del Norte (Zeckendorf again) was grafted onto Hyde Park Road. To the south Suncor corporation's Rancho Viejo was creeping steadily toward Eldorado; downtown the Eldorado Hotel (Zeckendorf yet again) loomed as big and as heartbreakingly ugly as ever. The outcome of this election will help determine how much worse this all gets.

I believe that Patti Bushee will win District 1 by a landslide. Abrasive as she can sometimes be, she is responsive to her constituents. Her young opponent, in his zealousness, has crashed and burned (he hasn't even seemed worth writing about), and most of the developer money is going into other races.

Matthew Ortiz's self-immolation is, I suspect, yet incomplete. Few of his supporters probably care about the details of what is in his Supreme Court disciplinary file. Grateful for his sponsorship of the living wage law, they may give him four more years as the Southside's aspiring patron, preserving that corner of the pro-development bloc.

District 3 could be a close one. Miguel Chavez is another of those uncharacteristically responsive councilors who, in a better world, would be impossible to defeat. But his opponent is receiving more money and support from the Chamber crowd than anyone except Mr. Berardinelli, including a matching set of color-coordinated mailings, courtesy Eli Senna.

That brings us to District 2. I'm guessing that hundreds of native Santa Feans, including some who haven't voted in years, will be mobilized by Mr. Berardinelli's precisely engineered campaign. Many of these voters will be old friends of Rick's, who remember him from Santa Fe High, or the Rotary Club, or from a sad day when someone in their family died. Some will go to the polls wrongly believing that he was endorsed by the United Way and the New Mexican. Some will even believe Shelly Gunn. They resent what is happening to this town and blame it, vaguely, on "outsiders." They will trust Mr. Berardinelli to look after them, never understanding that the same people who are becoming rich from bulldozing Santa Fe are the very ones who invented and ran his campaign.

I expect, and I hope I am wrong, that he will win, just barely. Then in the months and years ahead, some of those who put him in office will come to feel as embittered as the District 2 voters who, two years ago, put their trust in the Doctor of Public Administration and Planning from USC, the woman who lives under the stars in Ludwig's castle. They will watch in frustration as Rick votes with Rebecca (and Matt and Carol and David Pfeffer and maybe Carmichael Dominguez), and Santa Fe continues on its course toward becoming another Albuquerque.

But, as I said, I hope I am wrong.

George Johnson

Election Day Postscript.

Scooping everyone, Tom Sharpe revealed the identity of Shelly Gunn in this morning's New Mexican: a media buyer, based in Albuquerque, who will only say that she was hired by "a private group of business people who have wanted a change in Santa Fe . . . just a bunch of hometown folks." She promised to pass on Mr. Sharpe's phone number to the "spokesman" for the group. "The person is out of town is the only problem," she said. Did she mean he was not in Santa Fe . . . or Albuquerque?

This first-rate reporting is accompanied by another sharply worded editorial, "Your Vote Will Scrape Away the Mud," reminding readers about Ms. Gunn's lies.

The Santa Fe Review will continue after the election, though postings will be somewhat less frequent -- I have gotten way behind on my paying work. Among the first orders of business will be pressing the City Attorney to subpoena Shelly Gunn as the initial step toward prosecuting Santa Fe Grass Roots for violating Section 9.2 of the city Election and Political Campaign Code. With four illegal mailings and one illegal newspaper ad, Ms. Gunn and her partners (she is, after all, listed as their treasurer) already face a maximum fine of $2,500 (five times $500) or one year and three months (five times 90 days) of imprisonment (see 1-3.1 General Penalty; Continuing Violations; Suspension) -- and that does not count the fines and possible jail time accumulating for each day that the group remains unregistered with the City Clerk. (Concerned Santa Fe County Democrats, meanwhile, is mounting up penalties almost as severe.)

I will also begin a new series, "Memories of Overdevelopment" (the title is a play on that of a novel by Edmundo Desnoes), which will look back to the summer of 2002 and the beginning of the water wars. If you would like to be added to the reminder list (sent whenever there is a significant new installment) please write to the address listed below and put the word "subscribe" in the subject line.)

George Johnson

Updated March 5, 2004, 10:32 a.m.

Part 16. In the Matter of Shelly Gunn

The editorial policy for this journal is still evolving, but one thing I decided early on was not to recirculate rumors. I appreciate getting tips from readers. But unless they check out, I pass them by.

Yesterday, however, I was presented with a borderline case. Two readers independently reported to me that Shelly Gunn is the daughter of a Santa Fe realtor with ties to a large local development project. I have not yet been able to document the filial connection, but a quick Google search turned up a Santa Fe realtor named Clemens or Clem Gunn (there are only four Gunns in the phonebook). He also appears on the Squash Magazine website (there really is such a thing) playing in the same tournament with Gerald Peters last December in Santa Fe.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission's Corporations Bureau website was down last night, keeping me from inquiring further. But it sprung back to life this morning. Mr. Gunn and Mr. Peters show up as officers of Santa Fe Properties Development Company and Santa Fe Properties Real Estate. The connection goes way back. In 1980 they formed a now defunct entity called Arriba Properties, Inc.

There is also apparently a connection between Mr. Gunn and Phase One Realty, which describes itself as "Santa Fe's first real estate brokerage firm specializing in commercial investment properties and large development tracts (including residential development)." Phase One is involved with Santa Fe Estates, where Thornburg plans to build its office complex. This all, of course, may be nothing more than coincidence. I've seen no evidence that Mr. Gunn had anything to do with Santa Fe Grass Roots or that he is related to Shelly Gunn.

Meanwhile the city attorney, Bruce Thompson, maintains (in the Reporter and in the New Mexican) the curious position that he is not empowered to investigate and prosecute the city election laws, unless directed to do so by the Council. What does Mr. Thompson think he is being paid for if not to see that Santa Fe's ordinances are enforced? As a city resident and a receiver of the mailings, I will be sending his office a letter filing a complaint. I urge others to do the same.

March 6, 2004

Spontaneous Generation

In an unexpected twist, Santa Fe Grass Roots filed with the city clerk yesterday afternoon, just minutes before the close of business. Listed as the principals of the organization are Ms. Gunn, the treasurer, David Henderson, a local attorney, and . . . no one else. As reported in this morning's New Mexican, Mr. Henderson, now the group's spokesman, also issued a press release.

Ms. Gunn, he declared, "has been harassed and [had] her reputation damaged . . . In fact, she was exercising her constitutional rights to free speech and free association that are the foundations of our democracy. The public should view any attempt to silence her or the organization with great alarm and suspicion."

He is right about one thing. There is indeed no law against lying, even in a full-page Sunday newspaper advertisement running two days before an election. But who does he suggest is trying to silence his client? Through Shelly Gunn, Grass Roots Santa Fe has already spoken, loudly, with statements that are not just distortions of the record but demonstrably false -- for example, that Karen Heldmeyer voted herself a pay raise and voted against the Rio Grande diversion project.

But that is not the point. If Ms. Gunn is being singled out, it is because the people who are using her remain in hiding, letting her twist, Watergate style, slowly in the wind. Santa Fe Grass Roots' rhetorical outpouring is protected speech, and so is journalistic commentary about the one person who has served as the group's representative.

The filing, misspellings and all (see today's report in Journal North) has the marks of a rush job, coming just barely before the expiration of the 10-day grace period. It can be documented that Ms. Gunn's backers were in operation

by February 26, the deadline for the Sunday New Mexican ad. If we are to believe Mr. Henderson, it was on the 26th that, like a slime mold (pictured left), Santa Fe Grass Roots spontaneously organized. Realizing, suddenly, that the election was just five days away, the members researched (sort of) and drafted the newspaper ad, along with three different flyers, arranging to have them printed en masse and delivered to the mailing company on Cerrillos Road.

In its rush to exercise its Constitutional freedoms, the group did find the time to engage an Albuquerque "media buyer" to place the newspaper ad. (It can be very difficult to find parking near the New Mexican's offices on Marcy Street.)

Mark Oswald's story in Journal North (I wish I could link to it) also draws tighter the rumored Santa Fe connection, reporting that Shelly Gunn's half brother is Kurt Young, described as the son of a local woman who works in realty, and as Eric Lujan's campaign manager. (The story doesn't provide the name of Ms. Gunn's father.) Mr. Young denied that his mother or Mr. Lujan was involved, and I suspect that is true. The connection to Santa Fe's development industry probably runs much deeper.

We may know how deep by March 16. That Mr. Oswald writes, is the deadline for the group to provide the details of its fund-raising and expenditures, legal fees and all.

(Note: The New Mexican seems to be mistaken in reporting that Ms. Gunn's lawyer is the same David Henderson who heads, of all things, Audubon New Mexico and sits on the state Game Commission. A friend who is involved with local land use organizations tells me that "the David Henderson who works at Audubon is only licensed for birding.")

George Johnson

March 7, 2004

Another scoop, sort of, by Journal North: a press release from Shelly Gunn. (The New Mexican somehow missed this.) Unfortunately she is still stonewalling about the names of the principals of Santa Fe Grass Roots. This is all she had to say:

  "I am just a concerned citizen, an
  individual who has become part of a
  movement to help Santa Fe," Gunn states in
  her press release. She continues that "it was not my
  intention to be singled out, nor am I the
  spokesperson for Santa Fe Grass Roots," but
  she also states she refused to sit back and
  watch Santa Fe politics "being undermined
  through the policies and voting choices of
  certain incumbents."
  She also states, "Families that have been
  here for generations are being pushed out of
  Santa Fe, and their voices are not being 

No elucidation yet on whether the unheard voices include those of the prominent Gunn family involved with high-stakes Santa Fe development.

(Both today's and yesterday's Journal North stories mention the complaint I have filed with the City Attorney -- he should receive it in Monday's mail. I wonder if perhaps there is a better description for me than "blogger." How about "who writes an online journal about Santa Fe politics?" As my friend and former colleague, Jim Belshaw, the Albuquerque Journal columnist, once noted, the term "bloggers" sometimes connotes "former CB radio owners who gave their equipment to Goodwill and used the tax deduction to buy a computer.")

George Johnson

March 9, 2004, 9:45 a.m.

It cannot have been easy for the members of the secret society called Santa Fe Grass Roots to find the right attorney to represent them. Any of the prominent Marcy Street lawyers would be crazy to touch the case -- and not only because of the disastrous publicity. One need not look very far into state Public Regulation Commission records to appreciate how many of this town's great legal minds sit on the boards of real estate corporations. The implication -- true or not -- would be that some prominent Santa Fe developers were behind the attack ads.

What the group probably wanted was someone fairly obscure. It is no wonder that the New Mexican originally misidentified Mr. Henderson as the head of Audubon New Mexico. David Henderson the lawyer is all but unknown. His main claim to fame, judging from past newspaper stories, is as an attorney representing the town of Edgewood, New Mexico. (Or are there three David Hendersons?)

If Shelly Gunn's backers wanted a low profile, they may have hired the right man. Still, judging from Tom Sharpe's report in today's New Mexican, one can only wonder whether they dipped into the Yellow Pages a little too far.

Part of Mr. Henderson's job is to bluster and obfuscate, but his statements this morning are filled with logical holes:

	"My position at this moment is it's an individual decision on the
	 part of members of Santa Fe Grass Roots if and when they want
	 to make their names public."

And later in the story:

	Henderson said his clients have no legal or ethical obligation to
 	identify themselves as sponsors of the campaign materials.

Let's look again at the City Campaign Code, particularly the first three paragraphs of Section 9.5 spelling out the details a political organization must supply in its report to the City Clerk (due in final form one week from today):

	B. The statement of organization shall include but not be
	limited to:
	(1) The name, street address, city, county, state, zip code and
	 telephone number of the committee;

	(2) The full name, street address, city, county, state and
	telephone number of each firm, association, partnership, business trust,
	corporation, company, committee, PAC and other organization or group of
	individuals with which the committee is affiliated or connected;

	(3) The names, addresses and titles of its officers; or if it has no
	 officers, the names, addresses and titles of its responsible leaders;

I don't see the part that says this is all voluntary.

Some of Mr. Henderson's other statements are surreal, like comparing the "attacks" on his clients to accusations that Michael Dukakis was a card-carrying member of the ACLU. (I know. You'll have to read the story.)

And, to belabor the point a little further, consider this logical and syntactical mishmash:

	"If you look at the issues they were speaking to, whether or not
	 someone agrees or disagrees with the accuracy of what they
	 thought they were actually saying about those issues, there were
	 some issues about growth and development and other issues that
 	 really lie behind what they're talking about."

There is nothing on this today in Journal North.

Postscript: Since my last installment, a couple of readers have assured me that "blogger" is a noble term for Internet journalist and that it is silly for me to object. I guess my problem is that I was doing this kind of thing way before the nickname was coined and then popularized in a New Yorker article about web-logging among 20-year-olds.

Much more annoying is how Mr. Sharpe describes me in his article today: "a New York Times science writer, east-side resident and supporter of incumbent Councilor Karen Heldmeyer." Each adjectival phrase is accurate, but taken together they may convey a distorted impression.

I do have an agreement to contribute articles (usually about particle physics and theoretical computer science) to the Times. But calling me a New York Times science writer may wrongly seem to put its imprimatur on my personal political writing.

I did, of course, vote for Councilor Heldmeyer and, as noted here before, contributed $500 to her campaign. But the scope of opinion in the Santa Fe Review goes far beyond a single candidate's reelection. Why not just give the name and address of the website and let interested New Mexican readers decide for themselves?

March 9, 2004, 12:25 p.m.

It is tempting at this point to just wait until the filing deadline next Tuesday to see who the principals of Santa Fe Grass Roots turn out to be. That seems to be what the papers are doing. Meanwhile let's take stock of what is already known.

As reported in Journal North, Shelly Gunn is the daughter of a Santa Fe realtor, and her half brother, Kurt Young, managed Eric Lujan's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Councilor Patty Bushee. I've been following the Journal's lead in not naming the mother. (The New Mexican hasn't mentioned the family connection at all.) But as many readers already know, she is Connie Young, of Connie Young's Real Estate, the sales agent for El Robledo, a new subdivision in the Casa Solana area of Ms. Bushee's District 1. Developed by a former city planner named William "Fritz" Kueffer, El Robledo was the subject of several newspaper stories in 2001 and 2002 because of disputes with the neighbors. Given this and the Eric Lujan connection, it is natural that conspiracy theories abound. As noted here before, the Youngs have denied any involvement and I am still inclined to take them at their word.

Judging from a lengthy profile in the New Mexican Real Estate Section (July 1, 2001), Mrs. Young is one of those refreshing and all too rare realtors who recognizes the problems caused by overdevelopment. In the interview she says that she has been married to Tom Young, a well known health club proprietor, since 1968, and indicates that she was married before, presumably to someone named Mr. Gunn:

	Q. How many kids do you have?
	A. Ten, but only one is both of ours. They're yours, mine and ours.

She also tells the interviewer that before starting her own company she worked for Santa Fe Properties, whose officers include Gerald Peters and, perhaps coincidentally, Clemens Gunn.

That is where the investigation has bottomed out. I continue to get email from readers insisting that a line can be drawn between Shelly Gunn and Clem Gunn, but these might all be echoes of a single voice that may or may not be wrong.

If this was a paying job instead of something I am trying to squeeze in around two book deadlines, I'd spend half a day down on Grant Avenue going through marriage and divorce records. Maybe Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Huddy are there now.

George Johnson

March 11, 2004, 8:33 a.m.

I have never been so sorry to have missed the Wednesday evening broadcast of the fortnightly City Council meeting. The published schedule sounded so deadly dull that who would have guessed that, scared out of hiding by the impending investigation, Councilor David Pfeffer would announce that he is one of the principals of Santa Fe Grass Roots.

Providing newspaper readers with their morning's entertainment, Mr. Pfeffer

compares the investigation, announced yesterday by City Attorney Bruce Thompson, to McCarthyism.
This whole episode has been painful for the public to
watch and I am sorry for the way I have contributed to that
pain. But I make no apology for fighting for what I believe
is best and I sincerely hope all the people of Santa Fe
demand that their voices be heard and that their God-given
rights be aggressively guarded against any excess of
government power.

Just as interesting are the smug reactions of Mr. Pfeffer's allies, Matthew Ortiz (the investigation is "hypocritical" and a "political circus") and Rebecca Wurzburger (it is "a waste of taxpayer's money").

Best of all, Councilor Pfeffer has posted his full statement (ringing with the self-important sophistry we have all come to enjoy) in the New Mexican's readers' forum.

I'll go through his statement in detail later on, and consider the contention of Santa Fe Grass Roots's lawyer, David Henderson, that provisions of the city election code are unconstitutional. (It sounds as though he may have a point.) But for now we can feel assured that the rest of Shelly Gunn's colleagues will soon be revealed, as Mr. Henderson scrambles to file the full financial report due in City Hall by late Tuesday afternoon.

And we can be fairly certain that Councilor Pfeffer has effectively ended his sad political career (another subject to which we shall return in the weeks ahead.) Just yesterday he was mentioned, in the Reporter, as a potential candidate for Mayor.

March 11, 2004, 11:20 a.m.

The Minutemen

Let us sit back, take a breath, and review the extraordinary events of the last few days. A group of Santa Feans with money to burn (many thousands of dollars -- we'll know just how many after Tuesday afternoon) buys a full-page advertisement in the New Mexican, perfectly timed so that the subjects of the accusations are unable to counter with an ad of their own. To cover its tracks, the group works through an Albuquerque media buyer, and at the same time hires a local junk mail firm to send out thousands of flyers which also contain distortions and complete falsehoods.

Taken aback by the ensuing uproar, the group rushes to file a campaign report at the last possible moment and hires a lawyer, who insists, contrary to city ordinances, that the principals of the organization are under no obligation to identify themselves.

As the pressure continues, a city councilor decides to come forward, portraying himself and his cohorts as martyrs for the First Amendment, revolutionary pamphleteers in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine.

In recognition of the speed and alacrity with which they rose to battle, let us call them the Minutemen. (As an added bonus we can stop feeling obliged to misspell "grassroots.") Who might the rest of these patriots be?

We can be sure that David Pfeffer didn't have the money to pull this off. But his key role focuses the spotlight more sharply on District 1. Shelly Gunn has been linked through her half brother with the campaign of Eric Lujan to unseat Patti Bushee, one of the targets of the ads. She is also the daughter of the realtor for El Robledo, developed by Fritz Kueffer, who over the years has been in bitter disputes with Councilor Bushee.

But this may be just the beginning. The Minutemen also went after Councilors Heldmeyer and Chavez, which suggests that more principals may soon be found in Districts 2 and 3. And there is the possibility that a link will emerge to the Chamber of Commerce's clunky political machine.

Given what is likely to unfold over the next few days, whether or not the Minutemen can be prosecuted for violating the city campaign code may be no more than a minor detail.

This just in: Moments ago I received an email from an attendee of last night's meeting informing me that Councilor Pfeffer had called for an investigation of The Santa Fe Review! More after lunch . . .

March 11, 2004 3:42 p.m.

Strange Brew

First I'd like to thank the Councilor for providing such a nice segue into this afternoon's deliberations. I was wondering what he was talking about in his manifesto when he mentioned other "published material" that should be investigated along with that of the Minutemen. Here is the relevant passage:

	 Complaints may already be brewing, concerning, among other
	 things, the actions of private citizens, to determine if
	 these people's published material, focused on the election,
	 constitutes campaign material supportive of Councilors
	 Bushee, Heldmeyer and Chavez while presenting highly
	 questionable personal attacks on their opponents, including
	 other private citizens. An investigation would also
	 determine if such activity constituted political action
	 requiring registration with the City Clerk. However, no-one
	 from this group registered or posted any phone number on
	 the material. In my own view, everyone has every right,
	 within the limits of decency, to print whatever they want.

He was speaking, I've now been told, of the Santa Fe Review. If the Councilor is to be investigated, he insists, then I should be too.

Comparing a political journal to campaign advertisements is just more silly Pfefferishness. But the Constitutionality of requiring that real campaign literature -- pamphlets and advertisements -- bear an identifying telephone number is a matter worth thinking about.

What the framers of the Santa Fe Election and Political Campaign Codes presumably had in mind was discouraging the kind of last-minute advertising barrage launched by Pfeffer and company. Who would engage in hit-and-run attacks if they could be clearly identified as the authors? Requiring a phone number rather than an email address or Internet URL is an anachronism. But does a government have the right to require any identification at all?

In a letter to the City Attorney (this from Mr. Huddy in today's Journal North), Mr. Henderson, the Minutemen's lawyer, cites a 1995 decision by the United States Supreme Court . . .

	Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleetering is
	not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable
	tradition of advocacy and dissent. Anonymity is a shield
	from the tyranny of the majority.	

. . . and a 1997 ruling by New Mexico Attorney General Tom Udall:

	New Mexico's statutes on anonymous campaign literature
	are clearly unconstitutional and unenforceable. 

All of which makes me wonder what other states require, and what is required by Federal campaign law.

Mr. Henderson (Journal North again) says he is not contesting the requirement that political groups file full financial disclosures -- something that, if done honestly, will dissolve what is left of his clients' anonymity.

But why then would that part of the code not also violate the First Amendment? I don't mean that as a rhetorical question. It is a genuinely puzzling point.

And how does a journal of political opinion, as puny as this or as mighty as the New Republic or the National Review, differ from a partisan political pamphlet? My Law of the Press book from grad school is in a box down in Albuquerque. Perhaps some of the lawyers and journalists in the audience will help me clarify my thoughts.

Meanwhile, I rather like the idea of my being investigated by the City Attorney. For the record, information about the owner of this (or any) Internet domain is never more than a mouse click away. (No, the listing for doesn't include my telephone number. I don't often answer anyway. Email is so much more civilized.)

George Johnson

Postscript, 4:52 p.m. Here, from the aforementioned Supreme Court decision, McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, is part of the answer to the questions I just posed:

	Though such mandatory [financial] reporting  undeniably impedes
	protected First Amendment activity, the intrusion is a far
	cry from compelled self-identification on all
	election-related writings. A written election-related
	document - particularly a leaflet - is often a personally
	crafted statement of a political viewpoint. Mrs. McIntyre's
	handbills surely fit that description. As such,
	identification of the author against her will is
	particularly intrusive; it reveals unmistakably the content
	of her thoughts on a controversial issue. Disclosure of an
	expenditure and its use, without more, reveals far less
	information. It may be information that a person prefers to
	keep secret, and undoubtedly it often gives away something
	about the spender's political views. Nonetheless, even
	though money may "talk," its speech is less specific, less
	personal, and less provocative than a handbill - and as a
	result, when money supports an unpopular viewpoint it is
	less likely to precipitate retaliation.

You cannot be required to take responsibility for your writings -- until you put your money where your mouth is. Maybe there can be no prosecution on 9-2.4. But Tuesday's financial filings will serve the higher purpose: smoking out the members of Santa Fe Grassroots (all one word).

Here is the complete decision. More thoughts on this tomorrow.

March 12, 2004

There is a nicely pointed editorial in this morning's New Mexican. Here is how it begins:

	So the soup thickens -- spiced with fresh-ground pfeffer ....

	David Pfeffer, that is -- the midterm city councilor from
	District 1. At Wednesday's council meeting, Pfeffer fessed
	up to his role -- a laughable one, as reviewer of "accuracy"
	-- in the attack tactics used against three of his
	colleagues during the recent municipal-election campaign.

In view of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, the editors may be right that the city has better things to do than investigating the principals of Santa Fe Grassroots. But I am not as sure this morning as I was late yesterday afternoon. (I've gone back and qualified the penultimate sentence in the above postscript.) Reading some of the old news coverage of the case, I gather that it was not so sweeping as Mr. Henderson may wish to claim. A decision intended to protect the right of a lone, anonymous pamphleteer -- Mrs. McIntyre was expressing her opposition to a school tax levy -- may not apply to political committees placing paid advertising to affect the outcome of an election.

Shortly after the ruling, an editorial in the New York Times concluded:

	Legislatures may still have room to require disclosure on
	literature backing candidates for office, as distinguished
	from referendum issues. They can bear down on late hits
	close to election time and can demand more disclosure from
	political groups than from single operators like Mrs.
	McIntyre. The courts will have to define legitimate public
	disclosure while protecting those lonely pamphleteers.

In a dissenting opinion Justice Scalia put it like this:

	It may take decades to work out the shape of this newly
	expanded right-to-speak-incognito, even in the elections
	field. And in other areas, of course, a whole new boutique
	of wonderful First Amendment litigation opens its doors.
	Must a parade permit, for example, be issued to a group that
	refuses to provide its identity, or that agrees to do so
	only under assurance that the identity will not be made
	public? . . . Must a  municipally owned theater that is
	leased for private productions book anonymously sponsored
	presentations? Must a government periodical that has a
	"letters to the editor" column disavow the policy that most
	newspapers have against the publication of anonymous
	letters? Must a public university that makes its facilities
	available for a speech by Louis Farrakhan or David Duke
	refuse to disclose the on-campus or off-campus group that
	has sponsored or paid for the speech? Must a municipal
	"public-access" cable channel permit anonymous (and masked)
	performers? The silliness that follows upon a generalized
	right to anonymous speech has no end.

Maybe City of Santa Fe v. Santa Fe Grass Roots will become one of the defining cases. Meanwhile, nothing in the McIntyre decision bars prosecution if anything less than a full and detailed financial disclosure arrives in the city clerk's office next week. As the New Mexican editorial suggests, the local press corps will not be laying the matter to rest. Who put up the money for Mr. Pfeffer and his Minutemen promises to be Santa Fe's political story of the year.

Postscript: If you don't normally read Journal North, be sure to buy it this Sunday. I just got a peek at Jonathan Richard's biting cartoon about Santa Fe Grassroots, and it alone is worth the newsstand price. This guy is really talented. Last week's contribution, called "The Kiss of Death," is just as good and is still on the paper's (subscription only) website.

Part 17. The Rooming House at 346 Calle Loma Norte

Coming soon: Election Postmortem

And later on: Memories of Overdevelopment: The Summer of 2002

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