Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

King should look into campaign money scheme

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, one of the people specifically empowered to look into campaign finance violations, should take a break from his run to put the Democrats back in the Governor’s Mansion and investigate how around $128,000 was essentially laundered through a web of liberal political action committees before the June 3 primary in order to skirt the state’s campaign finance reforms.

With just over four months until the general election, here’s betting he’s just too busy with his own political fundraising to get around to it.

If that turns out to be the case, New Mexico’s issue-oriented voters are the losers, considering the bold/blatant statement from House Majority Whip/WOLF PAC head Antonio “Moe” Maestas, that “We all have the same agenda. The agenda is to protect the House.”

(Democrats have a 37-33 majority there, with all seats up for election this year. Four Democrat incumbents and four Democrat challengers have been the recipients of PAC largesse.)

Maestas’ strategy for carrying out his agenda is at odds with the agenda of the 2010 campaign contribution legislation, which was to keep big money and special interests from dominating New Mexico politics.

Albuquerque Journal investigative reporter Thom Cole showed in a recent report that state law limits a donation from PAC to candidate or from PAC to PAC at $5,200 per primary or general election. Yet Cole found a game of PAC-man, with large PACs giving to smaller PACs that in turn gave to candidates, allowing all involved to beat the limits and the system. No similar money moves on this scale have been found among Republicans at this time.

Dig in, connect the dots, and you can figure out the DLCC PAC gave $46,800 to nine other PACs in the web. One of those recipients was Speaker of the House Ken Martinez’s Leadership Fund, which had lots of other donations and in turn handed out around $74,000 to smaller PACS and the eight candidates, almost doubling its legally allowed influence in the eight races.

Under state law, Speaker Martinez’s Leadership PAC would have been limited to $41,600 total/$5,200 each without the middlemen.

Reports show the PACs headed by Albuquerque House Democrats Mimi Stewart, Maestas, Rick Miera and Gail Chasey and Sen. Jacob Candelaria and Santa Fe Democrat Rep. Brian Egolf had little to no money and saw little to no action until the cash started flowing through them around May.

The eight candidates involved — incumbents Emily Kane and Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson of Albuquerque, Phillip Archuleta of Las Cruces and Stephanie Garcia Richard of Los Alamos, and challengers Matthew McQueen of Lamy, Harrison Todacheene of Shiprock, Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces and Catherine Begaye of Albuquerque — should give back their share of more than $191,000 they received. The activity violates the spirit if not the letter of the law.

— Albuquerque Journal