CVNM NEWS 2012

11/01/12 – PACs pour money into legislative races
10/28/12 – Conservation PAC tells all

10/22/12 – Groups take out ads hoping to combat voter suppression

08/15/12 – Top State PACs in the 2012 Election
07/14/12 – Oil and gas reaping benefit of subsidies, tax breaks
06/01/12 – Independent PACs Pump Cash into Legislative Races
05/31/12 – Group spends $30K to defeat two Democrats
05/31/12 – When Democrats attack — each other

05/31/12 – Late charge at Sen. Ulibarri
05/30/12 – Green PAC works to unseat 2 Democrats
05/30/12 – Teachers’ Union Backs Smith Rival
03/17/12 – NM regulators scrap carbon emissions rules
02/21/12 – Sportsmen decry replacement of game commissioner 
01/25/12 – Vice Precedent
01/22/12 – Reducing executive privilege?
01/05/12 – Ad campaign targets Martinez at home

PACs pour money into legislative races

11/1/2012
By Barry Massey, the Associated Press

Political groups free from campaign finance restrictions are pouring millions of dollars into New Mexico’s legislative races that will determine whether Democrats hang on to their majorities in the House and Senate.

A PAC with ties to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez on Thursday reported spending $1.4 million on House and Senate races last month, with $4 of every $5 going for advertising and mailings.

That was matched by a Democratic-leaning group called Patriot Majority New Mexico, which spent $1.3 million during October. More than three-fourths of that went for mailings and ads.

Reform New Mexico Now, which was formed by the governor’s supporters, reported raising $1.6 million last month and is targeting about two dozen legislative races. Its top donor was a national GOP group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, which contributed $715,000. Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire, gave $200,000. Adelson and his wife are leading donors to political groups backing GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Two oil and natural gas companies, Occidental Petroleum and Devon Energy Production, each gave $100,000.

“We are committed to leveling the playing field for reform-minded legislative candidates by countering the out-of-state leftwing special interest groups who spent more than $2 million in just the last few weeks,” Jay McCleskey, the governor’s political strategist who runs the PAC, said in a statement.

His tally for Democratic groups covered a host of PACs ranging from Patriot Majority to committees formed by Democratic lawmakers.

Patriot Majority raised $619,500 during October, with most of that from labor unions. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees contributed $200,000, a political committee of the American Federation of Teachers gave $150,000 and a PAC of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters contributed $180,000.

Patriot Majority is backing about 20 House and Senate candidates, Craig Varoga said, the PAC’s president and a Washington, D.C.-based Democratic strategist.

“The pro-jobs campaign of Patriot Majority New Mexico and our allies includes radio, TV, online communications, direct mail and an active grass-roots campaign, door-to-door canvassing, paid phones and get-out-the-vote activities,” Varoga said in a statement.

So-called super PACs like Patriot Majority and Reform New Mexico Now can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money in campaigns because of federal court rulings, but the groups must operate separately from candidates.

Verde Voters PAC, which was formed by an environmental group, spent $272,908 last month and about three-fourths of that went for mailings and television advertising.

The PAC has targeted nine legislative races, according to Sandy Buffett, executive director of Conservation Voters New Mexico.

“These are the races where we have great environmental champions running, either incumbents or challengers,” said Buffett.

Verde Votes spent nearly $104,000 on television advertising against a Republican candidate trying to oust one of the Senate’s top Democratic leaders, Majority Leader Michael Sanchez of Belen.

Read the full story in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

 

Conservation PAC tells all

10/28/12
By Arin McKenna, the Los Alamos Monitor

A Santa Fe-based PAC called Verde Voters ($203,483.74 to date) was most forthcoming with direct answers when it comes to their mailings.

Verde Voters has issued three mailers so far. All cite the sources the mailers are based on and all carry the disclaimer “Paid for by Verde Voters PAC, a committee of Conservation Voters New Mexico.”

“We are an issue organization, so all of our messages and voter contact is based on the issues and the facts, votes that were cast,” said Conservation Voters New Mexico Political Director Leanne Leith. “We don’t presume to know what people will do in the future, so every single assertion we make is based on something on the record.”

Verde Votes has raised $70,000 from the League of Conservation Voters and $15,000 from the America Votes Action Fund, but the bulk of its donors are New Mexico residents.

“We’re very proud of that,” Leith said. “We get some support from our national organization, but they also fundraise here in New Mexico. So even the ones that appear to come from our national, a lot of that is derived from New Mexico.

“When we get involved in elections and we advocate at the legislature, it seems to us that the people who have the strongest interest in the policies adopted at the legislature are the residents of the State of New Mexico, and we just think their voice should be strongest. It’s their air, their water, their land and wildlife.

“And I can tell you, it’s distressing to be buried in this much money from out-of-state corporations and big oil companies, that they’re not the ones who are going to be drinking the water and breathing the air.”

Read more on the Los Alamos Monitor.

Groups take out ads hoping to combat voter suppression

10/22/12
Matthew Reichbach

Groups took out ads in the state’s three largest papers attempting to combat what they see as voter suppression.

The office of Attorney General Gary King and the Congressional House Oversight Committee are investigating the claims of voter fraud by Republican-aligned groups.

The ads are running in the Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican and the Las Cruces Sun-News.

The 1/2- and 3/4-page ads try to rebut some incorrect information that was given to Republican poll challengers at at least one training in Sandoval County.

“Very few voters will need some form of physical ID to vote, and no one needs a photo ID,” the ads says.

The ad notes that the only time a voter would need to provide physical identification is the first time they vote if they registered by mail. Even then, items such as utility bills with the voters’ name and address would be enough to cast a ballot in person.

“The best defense to voter intimidation is an educated voter,” says Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico, one of the groups that is sponsoring the ads. “Armed with the facts, voters will have the confidence to vote without concern of being turned away by misinformed challengers.”

The groups that are sponsoring the ads are ProgressNow New Mexico Education, America Votes NM, El Centro, Conservation Voters, Common Cause NM, Somos un Pueblo Unido, and a coalition of religious leaders.

We have images of the 3/4-page ad and the 1/2-page ad in the Albuquerque Journal.

See the story here.

Top State PACs in the 2012 Election

8/15/12
By Russell Page, Alibi

Verde Voters PAC: The independent expenditures branch of Conservation Voters New Mexico, Verde has already raised $100,000 to spend on mailers, canvassing and phone calls supporting pro-environment candidates. Verde Voters got involved in the Democratic primaries, sending out attack ads against incumbents with Earth-befouling agendas.

Read more on Alibi.

Oil and gas reaping benefit of subsidies, tax breaks

7/14/12
The New Mexican

There is a song, “The Times They Are A Changin’,” in which Bob Dylan sings about the old and stodgy needing to get out of the way, if they’re not prepared to lend a hand and move forward with the new and innovative.

It’s a powerful metaphor for a lot that happens in life or the economy. The old must adjust and keep up or find itself confined to the dustbin of history.

Seems true — unless, of course, you discover that the old is getting a huge handout to help it maintain its position and keep the new marginalized.

The situation we now find ourselves in — with the oil and gas industry and the huge taxpayer handouts it gets to stay on top — needs to be addressed. The numbers are startling.

According to the nonpartisan Checks and Balances Project, an investigative organization that focuses on policy decisions that affect taxpayers and consumers, the oil and gas industry is slated to receive more than $47.1 billion in tax breaks over the next five years (http://bit.ly/yaJUbn).

The problem is that the oil and gas industry gets these major tax breaks even though it is hugely profitable. According to the 2011 “Subsidy Gusher” report by the nonpartisan watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense, the top five oil companies alone reported more than $850 billion in total profits over the last 10 years.

Read more on the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Independent PACs Pump Cash into Legislative Races

6/1/12
Independent PACs Pump Cash into Legislative Races

SANTA FE — Some Democratic candidates for the state Legislature are getting a boost from independent expenditure committees spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to make the Roundhouse greener and more progressive.

Verde Voters PAC, a new political action committee formed by Conservation Voters New Mexico, is spending upwards of $50,000 this primary election season trying to oust two incumbent Democratic senators, Phil Griego of San Jose and David Ulibarri of Grants.

A separate, California-based PAC working to elect state Sen. Eric Griego to the U.S. House is backing five legislative candidates, including the challengers to Ulibarri and Democratic incumbents Sen. John Arthur Smith and Rep. Dona Irwin, both of Deming.

Progressive Kick says it plans to spend a total of about $15,000 to help Ulibarri’s opponent, Maxine Velasquez; Smith’s opponent, Larry P. Martinez; Irwin’s opponent, Louis Luna; Christine Trujillo, running for an open House seat; and Rep. Eleanor Chavez, running for an open Senate seat.

Read more on the Albuquerque Journal.

Group spends $30K to defeat two Democrats

5/31/12
By Milan Simonich, Texas-New Mexico Newspapers

SANTA FE — An environmental group has spent about $30,000 in the home stretch of the primary campaign in hopes of defeating two Democratic state senators, David Ulibarri and Phil Griego.

The expenditures by the political arm of Conservation Voters New Mexico will be made public Thursday, but executive director Sandy Buffett said her organization had invested approximately $15,000 in each race.

She said Ulibarri and Griego do not deserve to be re-elected, based on their records for failing to protect the state’s land and water.

Neither senator responded to calls or messages seeking their comment.

Ulibarri, of Grants, is in a four-way primary on Tuesday. Griego is running in a revamped district that extends 210 miles from his hometown of San Jose almost to Ruidoso. He faces two primary opponents.

Ulibarri and Griego are the only two sitting Democrats that the conservation group has targeted through its newly formed Verde Voters Political Action Committee.

Read more on the Alamogordo Daily News.

When Democrats attack — each other

5/31/12
Capitol Report New Mexico

Democrats across the country and in New Mexico have railed against the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court allowing corporations and unions to spend as much money as they want in political campaigns, saying the rise of “Super PACs” is ”allowing our elections to be taken over by billionaires” state Rep. Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque) says.

As we hit the final few days before party primaries on June 5, a number of liberal political action committees and unions are buying advertising time over the airwaves and printing attack fliers. But the negative campaigning isn’t targeted against Republican candidates but against other Democrats.

The irony is not lost on some of the targets.

“A lot of people condemn these things on the one hand and then solicit support on the other,” state Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) told Capitol Report New Mexico from the campaign trail Wednesday (May 30). “It’s a little schizophrenic.”

Read more on Capitol Report New Mexico.

Late charge at Sen. Ulibarri
National conservation group names him to ‘dirty dozen’ list

5/30/12
NM Capitol Report

UPDATED

With just six days until the primary election, the national League of Conservation Voters has placed New Mexico state Sen. David Ulibarri on its dirty dozen list.

“His consistent votes against clean air and water for New Mexico communities earned him his spot on the less-than-honorable list,” the organization said in a statement.

It also said that Ulibarri, D-Grants, was one of four candidates for state offices from around the country named to the list for this election cycle.

Sandy Buffett, executive director of Conservation Voters New Mexico, said her group’s Verde Voters Political Action Committee will report Thursday another $15,000 in expenditures to help defeat Ulibarri

Ulibarri could be not be reached immediately for comment.

The Verde PAC is supporting Maxine Velasquez of Laguna, one of three challengers to Ulibarri in the primary election. The others are Randolph Marshall Collins and Clemente Sanchez, both of Grants.

Read more on the El Paso Times.

Green PAC works to unseat 2 Democrats
Ulibarri makes national Dirty Dozen list; group says it wanted to nominate Griego too

5/30/12
NM Capitol Report

An environmental group has spent about $30,000 in the stretch run of the primary campaign in hopes of defeating two Democratic state senators, David Ulibarri and Phil Griego.

The expenditures by the political arm of Conservation Voters New Mexico will be made public Thursday, but Executive Director Sandy Buffett said her organization had invested approximately $15,000 in each race.

She said Ulibarri (left) and Griego do not deserve to be reelected, based on their records for failing to protect the state’s land and water.

Neither senator responded to calls or messages seeking their comment.

Ulibarri, of Grants, is in a four-way primary on Tuesday. Griego is running in a revamped district that extends 210 miles from his hometown of San Jose almost to Ruidoso. He faces two primary opponents.

Ulibarri and Griego are the only two sitting Democrats that the conservation group has targeted through its newly formed Verde Voters Political Action Committee.

The group’s efforts also landed Ulibarri on the Dirty Dozen list of the national League of Conservation Voters. Ulibarri was one of four candidates for state office from around the country to make the list this election cycle.

Read more on the El Paso Times.

Teachers’ Union Backs Smith Rival

5/30/12
By Deborah Baker / Journal Staff Writer

A teachers’ union is backing the first primary challenge to Sen. John Arthur Smith since the conservative Democrat was elected to the chamber from Deming 24 years ago.

“He is careful with your dollars,” Smith’s campaign is telling voters – and that’s helped land him a Democratic opponent, Larry P. Martinez of Lordsburg, in the District 35 race.

Smith, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has a reputation for trying to rein in state spending, sometimes putting him at odds with members of his own party.

Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, with whom he tangled repeatedly, dubbed him a “Dr. No.”

“It gets old being told ‘No,’ ” said Christine Trujillo, outgoing president of the American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico, who says education is underfunded.

“My attitude is, we’re not trying to shortchange education, but the last four or five years everybody has come up short,” Smith told the Journal.

The AFT has pumped at least $3,000 into Martinez’s uphill bid to oust Smith, accounting for about 40 percent of what he had collected as of a mid-May report.

Read more on the Albuquerque Journal.

NM regulators scrap carbon emissions rules

3/17/12
By Susan Montoya Bryan / Associated Press

New Mexico regulators have pulled the plug on the state’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions among coal-fired power plants, refineries and other large polluters.

The Environmental Improvement Board voted Friday to adopt a repeal petition filed last year by utilities and industry groups over concerns about rising costs and New Mexico’s economic viability.

The vote marks the second time in two months the board has undone regulations passed in the waning weeks of former Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration that were aimed at curbing carbon emissions.

The latest regulations to be repealed would have required electric utilities and oil and gas developers to trim emissions by 3 percent a year starting in 2013.

Despite the board’s decision, the factions that have been wrangling over the pollution rules since 2009 are expected to continue the fight in court.

Sportsmen decry replacement of game commissioner

2/21/12
Staci Matlock | The New Mexican

Southern New Mexico sportsmen are upset by the governor’s recent move to replace one of their own with an Albuquerque attorney on the New Mexico State Game Commission.

Gov. Susana Martinez last week appointed Paul M. Kienzle III to succeed retired university chemistry professor Rob Hoffman of Las Cruces.

“We were shocked to hear Rob was taken off. Everyone down here is unhappy,” said John Moen, president of New Mexico Quail. “We finally had someone interested in what the hunters think. Hunters and anglers pay all the fees that provide almost all the funding for the whole Game and Fish Department.”

Kienzle, a partner at the Albuquerque law firm of Scott and Kienzle, is one of three attorneys who filed suit against the state and the governor on Feb. 13 in federal District Court over redistricting. He represents The Paragon Foundation, a New Mexico nonprofit organization dedicated to private property rights and limited government, and is a member of the conservative nonprofit Mountain States Legal Foundation. Kienzle was on Martinez’s campaign committee and led the search for her general counsel.

Read more on the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Vice Precedent

1/25/12
Eliza Gray, The New Republic

In May 2010, Susana Martinez was running neck and neck in the Republican primary for the New Mexico governor’s race. Her opponent, Allen Weh, a former chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, had poured hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money into his campaign. Martinez, a district attorney, was fighting to close the gap. Then Sarah Palin came to town.

On May 16, Palin, whose star power was at its peak, appeared before a standing-room-only crowd in Albuquerque’s Marriott hotel, clad in a black leather jacket, and enveloped Martinez in a hug. “I’ll tell you what, New Mexico, you have a winner here, in someone who is proudly pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro-family, pro-fiscal conservative, anti-tax, anti-big government!” she cried. A top Republican strategist familiar with the race says that, in internal tracking polls, Martinez got “an eight or nine percent bounce” after Palin’s endorsement. “It was a total game changer,” he says.

Read more on The New Republic.

Reducing executive privilege?

1/22/12
The New Mexican

Only minutes after Gov. Susana Martinez was inaugurated — just after midnight on New Year’s Day last year — she signed an executive order stating that unlike her predecessor Bill Richardson, under her administration “executive privilege” no longer would be used as an excuse to withhold documents that might be embarrassing to public officials.

The order states that “access to public information should be the rule and the denial thereof an exception.” And the order established a policy that any agency under the governor’s control that wants to invoke executive privilege to deny releasing documents must receive written authorization from the Governor’s Office.

Journalists and others concerned about openness in government were happy about the order. But some cynics among us sarcastically scoffed, “I wonder how long this will last.”

Now, one year later, an environmental group that last month made a public-information request to the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department doesn’t think Martinez’s office is living up to that high-minded executive order.

Conservation Voters New Mexico on Dec. 16 requested several of the documents — mostly emails and memos dealing with the controversial pit rule.

Read more on the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Ad campaign targets Martinez at home

1/5/12
By Alexander Burns, Politico

Vice President Susana Martinez? Not if one New Mexico advocacy group has its way.

The Latino Sustainability Institute, a conservation group led by Democrats in Martinez’s home state, is launching a television and radio campaign Friday to take some of the shine off the first-term governor, whose sky-high approval ratings have already landed her on 2012 vice presidential short lists.

The ads blast Martinez for her approach to water conservation — in particular, regulations governing drilling and the disposal of oil and gas waste.

In the television spot, which a source said will run for several weeks, LSI advisory board member Kent Salazar accuses Martinez of “working with big oil and gas companies” to undermine water safety.

“My family has been here hundreds of years — working the land, living off the water. Without clean water, we cannot survive,” Salazar says. “Sadly, Gov. Martinez doesn’t get it.”

Read more on Politico.

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