An Albuquerque school board member’s social media campaign against Gov. Susana Martinez’s education policies has attracted thousands of followers and also has drawn GOP critics. Now she says Republican efforts to silence her are intensifying.
In addition to facing a formal complaint against her blog filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, Kathy Korte, founder of Stand4KidsNM, said she is under a social media attack from right-wing supporters of the governor, including Rebekah Stevens, whose recently called her “Krazy Kathy Korte” on her Twitter site, Politix Fireball.
In an email, Korte said, “As a public official representing teachers, parents and citizens, and as a mother of four children impacted by public school policies, I have a right to speak my mind and I have a right to do it on FB [Facebook] and Twitter. I don’t deserve to be intimidated and harassed and my good character attacked by all these political hit women and hit men.”
Earlier this month, state Rep. Monica Youngblood, an Albuquerque Republican, filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office arguing that Stand4KidsNM has spent at least $500 to set up and operate its website, create bumper stickers and T-shirts, and sell the promotional items — and must register as a political action committee.
Youngblood has since provided the Secretary of State’s Office with images, Facebook posts and other material from Stand4Kids’ website to prove her point — including images of education rally T-shirts, the prices of bumper stickers ($1.50) and T-shirts ($5) and evidence of the group’s participation in teacher union marches and rallies.
Youngblood also included images of online requests for parent leader volunteers to train others about Public Education Department policies and an online “Vote for Gary King” ad that says, “Stop Susanna.” Youngblood calls this “electioneering.”
Youngblood did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Korte maintains the year-old site is a grass-roots organization run by “PTA moms” who have a right to speak out against the governor’s education plan and support King under the First Amendment.
In a letter to the secretary of state, Korte said the group makes no contributions to any political groups and that she has no idea how each person who posts on her site is voting in the Nov. 4 general election. “We have the constitutional right and constitutional protections to oppose scam ‘reforms’ that harm students, teachers and public education,” Korte wrote. She called Youngblood’s claims “nonsensical allegations against me” and an attack on parents who have a right to express their views.
Korte said the fact that the group is backing Attorney General Gary King does not mean it is a political action group. She said the group has no office, no officers, no budget and no money, and “is not in violation of any campaign finance laws.” She said all of the group’s activities and promotional items, including T-shirts, were provided by donation.
Youngblood said the group is still required to report its in-kind contributions.
According to Ken Ortiz of the Secretary of State’s Office, Korte has 13 days from Sept. 16 to respond to Youngblood’s complaint.
Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or email@example.com.