NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A former state senator is suing Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. He claims she threatened him for seeking public information.
Lawyer and former state senator Jacob Candelaria have filed a lawsuit against Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, her office, and state Senator Peter Wirth. Candelaria claims the governor and her office threatened him for requesting public documents, like emails, sent during the early days of the pandemic.
When he filed the request for public records in November 2020, he said he received a request for a meeting with state Senator Wirth.
“A few days later, senator Peter Wirth requested a meeting in my law office in Albuquerque, at which time he informed me that the governor was threatening, quote, escalating consequences unless that IPRA request was withdrawn,” said Candelaria.
Candelaria filed the request to look into whether the governor and her team were truthful about managing funds during the early days of the pandemic. The lawsuit states that after the request was made, the threat was passed down from senator Wirth, though it was unclear what actions would be taken against Candelaria if he didn’t drop the request.
He says for fear of what might happen; he did withdraw the IPRA in 2020. Candelaria argues if the information he was requesting was too sensitive to be public, the governor’s office had plenty of time to instate “executive privilege.” now he is asking the court to force the governor’s office to release the public documents and pay damages to him and his firm.
“I believe that governor’s behavior, in this case, demonstrates, to me at least, that she believes she is above the law, that normal consequences do not apply.” Candelaria expects the case to be heard in court in 2023.
A spokesperson with the governor’s office says the allegations are ‘”wholly baseless and without merit.”
Candelaria has taken the governor to court before. In 2021 Candelaria and republican state senator Gregory Baca won the supreme court case about who gets a say on who has control over how federal COVID relief funding is spent. He resigned from the senate this last October.