Group Attempts Shakedown of City

 
 
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Las Vegas - New Mexico - US

LAS VEGAS, N.M. - Nov. 14, 2016 - PRLog -- A local group used threats and intimidation against Las Vegas, New Mexico's mayor in an attempt to get a city contract.

The group, The Las Vegas Hispano Chamber of Commerce (LVHCC), approached the city in July with a contract proposing that the city give them $20,000 for a year's membership in the chamber. The contract represented the LVHCC as a "not-for-profit" organization.

When pressed for evidence of the group's non-profit status, Chris Lopez, representing himself as the chairman of the LVHCC, responded by email stating that "This was a no-questions-asked membership"  and threatening to "crush Tonita and all of her allies"  and to "break her in half"  if she did not apologize and enter into the contract.

Lopez also said in his email that "I didn't say anything when Tonita had Manny registering voters from Mora to vote in the recall election in all my rentals," apparently referring to Las Vegas mayor Tonita Gurulé-Girón.

That email was CCed to Joseph "Joey" Herrera, who ran in the recent mayoral race and who lost to Gurulé-Girón by 23 votes.  Other emails to the city from Lopez regarding the LVHCC contract were also CCed to Herrera.  Herrera's connection with the LVHCC was not stated.

 "Manny" presumably refers to Manuel "Manny" Martinez, who is named as president of the Hispano Chamber in Lopez's email.

Guidestar.org, an online lookup for non-profit organizations, does not list the LVHCC. The Internal Revenue Service's website, irs.gov, also does not list the LVHCC as a non-profit organization.

While the Secretary of State's website does list a "Hispano Chamber of Commerce de Las Vegas," that organization was founded in the mid 1970s and is long gone. Its status on the Secretary of State's website is listed as "revoked final," and not in good standing.

Since the email, Chris Lopez, in his online publication and on social media, has posted a series of stories alleging misconduct by mayor Gurulé-Girón. Manuel "Manny" Martinez has launched a petition drive to recall her.

Manny Martinez is reported to have been soliciting contributions from local businesses in the form of $100 yearly membership fees. City councilman David Ulibarri said he was approached by Manny Martinez and paid him  $100  for Ulibarri's 24 Hour Towing and Used Parts to become a member of the LVHCC.

"I am concerned," Gurulé-Girón said, "that this group has been taking money from local business owners and may also have been using these shakedown tactics on other institutions besides the city. The Hispano Chamber doesn't seem to be a legitimate organization, and for Chris Lopez to use his blog like this to ruin peoples reputations, that's not right. We had a duty to report this to law enforcement, and we have done so.  As far as the "recall election" goes, I have no idea what he is getting at, except an implied threat to publicly accuse me of a crime if I didn't pay the $20,000. The only recall election that ever happened here that I know of was of Michael Gallegos and that was a decade ago."

The matter has been reported to both the New Mexico Attorney General and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

www.lasvegasnm.gov

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Tags:Government, Finance
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Location:Las Vegas - New Mexico - United States
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