SANTA FE, N.M. — Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative is denying an attorney’s claim that the co-op attempted to bribe an ousted board member with a $50,000 check. It says the money was part of a “good faith effort” to settle a lawsuit brought by Bruce Duran, who sued the co-op after it failed to certify his June reelection in which he ran unopposed.
Duran’s attorney, A. Blair Dunn, last week shared with the media – and, he says, the Department of Justice – an email from attorney K. Stephen Royce, who is representing the co-op in a case brought against it by Duran. The email offers to pay Duran $50,000 if he agreed to drop his lawsuit, keep the terms of the settlement secret and never run for the co-op board again.
The co-op says that Dunn mischaracterizes the offer as a “bribe” when it’s actually a settlement proposal.
“The Board’s counsel acted in the long-term interest of the entire membership and the JMEC’s 31,000 customers to bring to resolution the pending litigation, rather than continue in protracted and expensive litigation,” says a news release dated Oct. 11.
The co-op maintains that it did not certify Duran’s election because the board determined that Duran, who is considered a reformist, was ineligible to run for reelection because he did not live in the district he was representing and was not a co-op member because his wife paid the electric bill.
The co-op’s news release says that in making the settlement offer, it considered “the potential exposure from litigation JMEC faces from potential contractors and employees if Mr. Duran continues on the Board.” A previous news release from the co-op said that Duran was facing sexual harassment allegations from two women.
Meanwhile, co-op member Heather Nordquist says she filed a complaint with the judicial Disciplinary Board against another attorney who represents the co-op.