A state district judge has dismissed a whistle-blower lawsuit in which James Flores, a one-time spokesman for former Secretary of State Mary Herrera, claimed he was fired because he talked to the FBI about possible wrongdoing in the office.
Judge Sarah Singleton last month dismissed the case "with prejudice," which means Flores can't file it again. Singleton said in her order that Flores had failed to respond to a motion by Herrera to dismiss the case.
Neither Flores nor his lawyer, Rudy Martin of Española, could be reached for comment Thursday.
The complaint said Herrera fired Flores on Sept. 4, 2010, after she learned he'd talked to the FBI about what he perceived to be criminal conduct at her office. Flores and others claimed that Herrera had politicized the office, requiring employees to help with her re-election campaign. Herrera repeatedly has denied such accusations.
No charges were ever filed against Herrera.
Flores had claimed that his firing violated the state Whistleblower Protection Act, which prohibits firing employees for reporting possible wrongdoing.
Herrera has maintained that Flores -- who was an exempt employee, which means he could be fired for any reason -- was terminated for "insubordination."
In her motion for dismissal, filed in February, Herrera also claimed that the Whistleblower Protection Act was "unconstitutionally vague." Singleton in her order didn't address the law's constitutionality.
Troubles in 2010 between Herrera and Flores -- as well as other members of her staff -- spilled over into the elections that year. Herrera, a Democrat, was defeated in the general election that year by Republican Dianna Duran.
According to Flores' complaint, Herrera put him on leave in August 2010 for what Herrera said was action by Flores to include two unauthorized people on the list of people who receive news releases from the Secretary of State's Office.
Those were Santa Fe County Clerk Valerie Espinoza -- a political enemy of Herrera's -- and former state election director A.J. Salazar, who after quitting that job in early 2010, wrote a scathing letter to Herrera that was released to reporters.
Flores' lawsuit denied that Espinoza and Salazar were included on one of his media distribution lists.
A lawsuit similar to Flores', filed by former Secretary of State's Office employee Manny Vildasol, is still pending in state district court.
Contact Steve Terrell at 986-3037 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com.
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