Rogers resigns from sunshine group’s board
‘…it is clear that this, my prompt resignation will allow NMFOG and all of the NMFOG volunteers to concentrate on your critical First Amendment and open government mission and avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized,’ Rogers wrote in his resignation letter.
The N.M. Foundation for Open Government announced Friday evening that Pat Rogers had resigned from its board of directors.
Rogers’ resignation came after I argued in a commentary that, for the sake of FOG’s integrity, his tenure on the board must end. That’s because, I wrote, his recent actions “helped create the appearance that the Martinez administration’s controversial contract with the Downs at Albuquerque was an insider deal.”
“This is what the Downs deal looks like: A company that gave lots of money to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s 2010 campaign won a state contract after hiring a GOP insider (Rogers) who was communicating privately about the contract, before it was awarded, with people close to Martinez,” I wrote.
Rogers’ resignation letter
Rogers addressed my commentary directly in his resignation letter. Here’s his entire letter to FOG Board President Terri Cole:
“Dear Ms. Cole and Members of the NMFOG Executive Committee:
“Although I appreciate the effort of the NMFOG Executive Board to schedule a meeting to discuss Mr. Haussamen’s concerns about my continuing membership in NMFOG, it is clear that this, my prompt resignation will allow NMFOG and all of the NMFOG volunteers to concentrate on your critical First Amendment and open government mission and avoid further distractions by an issue that has become improperly politicized.
“While even the most virulent partisans calling for my NMFOG resignation admit (as they must) that my actions were always lawful, it is also a fact I sent e-mails to individuals in government using an address that was not a state-issued address. Use of personal e-mail addresses is a universal practice. My attempted use, however, as highlighted by the publication of certain portions of the stolen emails (emails that were never received by the intended recipients) has become a significant distraction for this organization. Moving forward, perhaps NMFOG can recommend changes to update the state law on this issue and develop an approach that is consistently applied to all government and to all persons interacting with government.
“It has been a significant honor to represent NMFOG in court, before the Legislature and in the community. I hope NMFOG continues to perform its important work and continues to prosper and grow. In calling for my resignation, Mr. Haussamen also notes that my service as New Mexico’s National Committeeman to the Republican National Committee gave him concerns, as well: ‘I wondered how he would be able to juggle heavy involvement in a nonpartisan government watchdog organization with such a partisan position’.”
“Perhaps to avoid embarrassing me any further, he does not note my related work as the former General Counsel to the New Mexico Republican Party and my representation of various Republican presidential candidates, Ralph Nader, and the many elected Republican officials, committees, and candidates over the years. In addition to open government, I believe that political participation, competition, debate and principled dissent are also vital to the health of our society. I am honored and proud of my work for all of my clients. My clients, as NMFOG did, receive zealous representation all within the bounds of the law and professional ethics.
“Please extend my appreciation and best personal wishes to the entire NMFOG Board.
Cole issued this statement:
“We appreciate Pat’s service over many years to FOG and his dedication to the First Amendment. We understand and appreciate his decision.”
Not all are pleased
Not all are pleased. In an e-mail, Carol Miller, a former independent congressional candidate who once worked on Ralph Nader’s Green Party campaign for president in New Mexico, wrote this:
“I am sorry to receive this resignation letter from Pat Rogers. I feel he served FOG well on the issues FOG and its members care about. Maintaining a non-partisan board is important for FOG and for open government in our state.
“There are bad actors on all sides in NM and these sides and characters change from time to time. Politics is a hard ball game here and one person’s hero is another’s villain. I wish I had spoken up sooner in Pat’s defense. I wasn’t happy about the email situation in the Martinez administration, but the rules and gray areas were set by other administrations.
“I had the opportunity to work with Pat in the past and found him an excellent attorney. In our case, he helped us successfully sue two corrupt Democrats, Attorney General Patricia Madrid and Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil Giron, who were conspiring to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot in 2004. The Supreme Court of New Mexico over-ruled Vigil Giron and Madrid and certified that Mr. Nader had, in fact, qualified for the ballot. Through Pat’s leadership, Mr. Nader also won a victory in federal district court that gave important new rights to New Mexico voters.”
‘… an excellent sunshine lawyer’
In my initial column on this topic, I noted this:
“Rogers is an excellent sunshine lawyer who is a past president of the N.M. Foundation for Open Government (FOG), a current board member, and a 2004 recipient of the organization’s Dixon Award for fighting for open government.”
And, in spite of what Rogers’ resignation letter states, I did note that he is a former general counsel for the state GOP.
For disclosure, this site is an annual donor to FOG.
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