Liberty Justice Center Case Challenging Taxpayer-Funded Handouts to Move Forward

November 3, 2023

On November 1, the Bernalillo County Court denied the City of Albuquerque and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ motions to dismiss Gessing v. Yara, a case challenging the City’s illegal donation of taxpayer funds to the private organization.

Last year, after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked, the Albuquerque City Council rushed to donate $250,000 in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico’s regional affiliate of the organization. City Councilwoman Tammy Fiebelkorn explained that she sponsored the donation “to provide vital support for Planned Parenthood.”

Plaintiffs, Albuquerque taxpayer Paul Gessing and local pregnancy resource center CareNet sued, arguing that the City Council’s gift violates the New Mexico Constitution’s anti-donation clause, which prohibits using taxpayer money to “make a donation to or in aid of any person, association, or public or private corporation.”

In a ruling issued November 1, the Court found that the plaintiffs have made a creditable case that the “agreement” between the city and the organization is essentially a sham, purporting to purchase services from Planned Parenthood while in fact paying out taxpayer money to a politically favored group.

“We are pleased with the Judge’s careful consideration of the case and look forward to the next stages of the litigation process,” said Reilly Stephens, Counsel for the Liberty Justice Center. “Taxpayers should not—and under New Mexico’s Constitution, cannot—be forced to foot the bill for handouts to private companies that have made friends with the right politicians.”

“The City Council’s donation didn’t just violate the state Constitution—it also violated taxpayers’ trust,” said plaintiff Paul Gessing, a New Mexico resident. “I’m glad that the Liberty Justice Center is challenging this politically-motivated donation and holding them accountable to residents.”

The Court’s ruling is available here.

The Liberty Justice Center’s filings in the case are available here.


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