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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, New Mexico House, New Mexico Senate » Dems take aim at new PAC because of GOP involvement

Dems take aim at new PAC because of GOP involvement

Some Democrats announced they were filing complaints with the Secretary of State’s office Sunday, alleging that the new Reform New Mexico PAC was illegally formed. The man at the center of it all is Gov. Susana Martinez’s top political strategist, Jay McCleskey.

The PAC amended its financial disclosure reports and says it has been assured by the Secretary of State, Republican Dianna Duran, that it is now in compliance with the law.

The PAC filed amended campaign finance reports that shows the money was donated on 5/24 instead of 4/24 as the original documents said. You can see the amended documents here, thanks to KOB’s Peter St. Cyr.

Santa Fe mayor David Coss, State Rep. Eleanor Chavez and Jack Sullivan have joined the Democratic Party of New Mexico in filing complaints with the Secretary of State’s office against the PAC. They announced the filings before the PAC filed its amended campaign finance reports.

The PAC provided a statement to Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican:

Reform New Mexico Now is in complete compliance with the law and, unlike other groups involved in these elections, we disclose all of our contributions and expenditures.
There was a typo in the initial report filed with the Secretary of State by listing all contributions as 4/24/12. We quickly notified the Secretary of State when the report appeared with that erroneous information. We were instructed on how to file an amended report and did so. The Secretary of State’s office has informed us that we are in total compliance with the law.
This frivolous complaint by David Coss is a desperate attempt to distract attention away from the main issue in this race, which is whether Mr. Coss should be able to simultaneously serve as mayor and as state representative.

If the PAC believes that the main issue in the race is whether or not Coss should be able to serve as mayor in the state legislature, you would be hard-pressed to find that out from the mailer in question.

The mailer only mentions that Coss’ opponent Carl Trujillo will work to reform schools — something that is one of Martinez’s key proposals.

Democrats attack the PAC’s involvement

The larger issue that Democrats have with the PAC, not the issue of when the PAC was founded, is that the PAC is run by Republicans and is getting involved in contested Democratic primaries.

The PAC points out that Dominic Aragon, a former Democratic Party ward chair, is a Democrat and says this makes the PAC bipartisan. However, Aragon has backed Republicans in recent years, including working for Jon Barela’s unsuccessful congressional campaign against Martin Heinrich.

You can see that the Democrats take issue with the PAC getting involved in the races at all from the statements that Democrats and their campaigns made Sunday.

“The Governor’s secret PAC, Reform New Mexico Now, has attacked my record twice in political mail that was sent to voters in Senate District 14,” Eleanor Chavez, who left her state House seat to run for state Senate, said in a statement. “Democratic voters have a right to know who is behind these smear tactics, especially when they are sponsored by a Republican Governor and other corporate interest groups.”

“It is outrageous that Susana Martinez would get involved in a Democratic primary, especially in northern Santa Fe County and then try to hide her involvement from the voters,” Coss said.

“The choices couldn’t be clearer. Phil Griego is endorsed by Republican Governor Martinez and oil and gas and Jack Sullivan by the teachers, all the area newspapers and conservation groups,” Jack Sullivan campaign manager Neri Holguin said in a press release, referring to the incumbent, Griego.

Trujillo also distanced himself from the mailers — even though they would benefit him.

“Organizations that have independently done things without any involvement from us. For example, two organizations sent out mailers that were negative to our opponent,” Trujillo said. “We had nothing to do with them, but there’s nothing we can do to stop them.”

The other organization Trujillo is referring to is the New Mexico Business Coalition, a conservative organization that has attacked Democrats in the past.

The Democratic Party entered the fray, using the PAC’s involvement as a way to go after Martinez.

“At this point, Susana is spending more time setting up SuperPACs and directing attack ads than she is governing, and that’s not really acceptable – especially in this economy,” Javier Gonzales said in a statement.

Martinez has been criticized for being overly political during her time in office. This includes sending mailers and airing radio ads during the legislative session targeting legislators who opposed her legislative agenda.

In 2011, Attorney General Gary King said that Martinez might have been in violation of election law when she used campaign money to target legislators on the issue of drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.

Whether or not the PAC’s late involvement in the races is an open question — and one that political observers throughout the state will be watching with interest on Tuesday evening.

Photo from the McCleskey Media Strategies website

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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