A prominent medical cannabis producer in New Mexico filed a federal lawsuit against officials with the state agency that oversees the New Mexico State Fair and owns the fairgrounds. In the complaint filed Wednesday, New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health accused top staffers with Expo New Mexico along with the chair of the state fair board of violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution for barring the medical cannabis company from bringing cannabis-related materials to an educational booth later this year. Chairman of the New Mexico State Fair Commission Larry Kennedy, Expo New Mexico General Manager Dan Mourning and Concessions Department Director Raina Bingham are named as defendants in the case. The state fair officials, according to the lawsuit, “implicitly chilled” Ultra Health’s “clearly established rights to freedom of speech and expression.” New Mexico Expo officials, though, said they have the authority to implement their own rules and regulations.
Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg is asking the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office to investigate a complaint alleging that a state official committed perjury by claiming the governor’s office had no role in the makeup of a committee that evaluated bids for a racino lease. An EXPO New Mexico spokeswoman dismisses the allegations as “the same regurgitated accusations by a radical left wing activist whose allegations have been consistently discredited.”
The complaint, filed last month to Brandenburg and State Auditor Tim Keller by private investigator Michael Corwin, accuses EXPO New Mexico Executive Director Dan Mourning of lying in a sworn affidavit. Keller referred the complaint to Brandenburg’s office earlier this month. Corwin, who’s done opposition research for a number of New Mexico Democrats including former Gov. Bill Richardson, formerly ran a political committee critical of Gov. Susana Martinez and particularly what has become known as the Downs deal. Mourning wrote the affidavit in question in July 2013 when the State Auditor, then Hector Balderas, was investigating the awarding to the Downs at Albuquerque of a 25-year racetrack and casino lease on state fairgrounds, which EXPO manages.