March 2, 2021

Democrats say Otero County official threatened House speaker

Laura Paskus

Democrats in the House of Representatives voiced outrage over an email from an Otero County official they claim contains a threat against Speaker Brian Egolf.

Democrats contend Otero County Assessor Steve Boyd, who also serves as president of New Mexico Counties, a group that advocates for counties’ needs statewide, wrote an email about a recent Albuquerque Journal story on Egolf’s Santa Fe-based law firm settling 10 legal cases against state agencies for more than $2 million over the past five years.

According to the email, Boyd wrote: “Another Democrat getting rich off of the people rather than serving them. This is why New Mexico fights an uphill battle all the time.

“If I had a list, he would be on it.”

Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Albuquerque, called the email a threat of violence during a floor session Monday night, one that requires condemnation in the “strongest possible terms.”

Speaking by phone minutes later, Ely said the email was sent to him by a recipient whom he declined to identify.

Ely said given the context, Boyd’s words were “clearly a threat.”

Though he did not return a call seeking comment, Boyd wrote in an email, “I did not and would not threaten anyone with violence.”

Boyd did not respond to a follow-up email asking him to confirm whether he sent the communication. The email about Egolf, distributed by the House speaker’s spokesman, contained Boyd’s name, email address and phone number.

Egolf is the main sponsor of House Bill 4, which would create a New Mexico Civil Rights Act. The legislation would allow residents to sue state governmental entities if they feel their civil rights have been violated. It also would do away with qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that can shield government officials, including police, from being held personally liable for actions that violate a person’s constitutional rights.

Egolf, who was presiding over the House floor session as Ely spoke, later issued a statement in an email, writing the “veiled threats” by Boyd are unacceptable.

“These threats echo the violent rhetoric and incitement of violence that has invaded public discourse nationwide,” Egolf wrote. “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.”

Egolf added he called on the board and staff of New Mexico Counties to take “appropriate action.”

Ely said by phone Boyd is welcome to offer criticism of lawmakers and their legislation. 

“But when you cross the line to insinuate violence, I will not accept that,” Ely said. “You do not get to suggest violence.”