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Egolf denounces ‘veiled threats’ on civil rights bill

In this Feb. 16 file photo, House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, talks during debate over the proposed Civil Rights Act in the House. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — House Speaker Brian Egolf and state Rep. Daymon Ely condemned New Mexico Counties President Steve Boyle on Monday for remarks he made about Egolf’s sponsorship of a proposed Civil Rights Act.

In an email to other members of the New Mexico Counties board, Boyle said of Egolf: “If I had a list, he would be on it.”

Ely, D-Corrales, addressed the state House late Monday as the chamber began its evening floor session, describing Boyle’s comment as an attack that crossed the line.

“That is not appropriate,” Ely said. “That’s an insinuation of violence.”

The dispute centered on a recent email that Boyle — the Otero County assessor and president of the state association of county governments — sent responding to a Journal story on the proposed Civil Rights Act and Egolf’s work as a private attorney.

The article noted that Egolf’s law firm had settled 10 legal actions against state agencies over the past five years for more than $2.3 million. He is also co-sponsor of legislation that would allow people to sue public agencies for alleged civil rights violations under the state Constitution — legislation vigorously opposed by New Mexico Counties.

“Another democrat getting rich off of the people rather than serving them,” Boyle wrote in the email. “This is why New Mexico fights an uphill battle all the time. If I had a list, he would be on it.”

In an interview Monday, Boyle said his words weren’t intended as a threat. He said he was upset when he sent the email and shouldn’t have sent it at all.

In fact, Boyle said, he sent a follow-up email acknowledging that the first message was inappropriate.

“I really care about New Mexico,” Boyle, a Republican, said Monday.

Egolf, D-Santa Fe, called on Boyle to issue a retraction for his “use of veiled threats.”

“These threats echo the violent rhetoric and incitement of violence that has invaded public discourse nationwide,” Egolf said. “This and other fear tactics by the counties to foment opposition towards the New Mexico Civil Rights Act amount to nothing less than bullying and intimidation.”

The civil rights legislation, House Bill 4, passed the House 39-29 and is now pending in the Senate.

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