Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Eyebrow Raiser: Big Bill's Onetime Chief Fund-Raiser To Co-Host Denish Event As Corruption Scandals Play On; R's Start Digging At Di 

Diane Denish
Old loyalties die hard, but does Diane Denish need to start reassessing hers? That's the tough question for the early front runner for the 2010 Democratic Guv nomination, and it's hitting home in the wake of news that Big Bill's onetime chief fund-raiser is co-hosting an event for Denish and in the wave of escalating Republican attacks over the multi-layered scandals shadowing New Mexican politics.

Eyebrows were raised (or brows furrowed, if you prefer) over an invitation to a $250 July 24th fund-raiser for the lieutenant governor to be co-hosted by Amanda Cooper and her husband, Jim Noel. Cooper hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing, but all aspects of Richardson's campaign fund-raising for Governor and President and his various committees and foundations in which Cooper was a key player are under investigation by the US Attorney's office and a federal grand jury. We previously blogged that our insider sources confirmed that Cooper, the step-daughter of US Senator Tom Udall, has been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony to the grand jury. That does not mean she is implicated in any wrongdoing, but the political implications are obvious. Richardson's fund-raising and the pay-to-play allegations are potential political dynamite for Denish. (The Friday federal indictment watch is now the most popular indoor political sport).

Here's the fund-raising invitation that has them talking:

You are invited to a Reception In Support of Lt. Governor Diane Denish To benefit her campaign for Governor. Hosted By: David Smoak and Charity Townsend Jim Noel and Amanda Cooper July 24, 2009 5:30 – 7:00 pm At The Home of David Smoak and Charity Townsend. Suggested donation: $250 per person

And here's the money graph from the ABQ Journal hit piece authored by NM GOP Chairman Harvey Yates, Jr. as they launch their ethics assault:

(Denish) moved to the other side of the table when Richardson repeatedly poked at the side of her leg. Why hasn't she moved to the other side of the table on corruption? Is it not as important? If she has lacked the courage to speak vigorously against corruption, she is unfit to be governor.

That stung her, and Di used her campaign chair, Ted Martinez, to strike back:

Chairman Yates once again showed how little Republicans have to offer...I know Diane and her record fighting corruption. Just this past legislative session Diane pushed for more transparency in campaign fundraising...She backed a law that requires all state contracts be posted on the Internet...And Diane wrote the law to reform New Mexico's Regional Housing Authorities...That is just the start of Lt. Governor Denish's work on ethics...

The state's number two may be reluctant to firmly separate herself from Bill's operations. She must secure the nomination in a party heavy with his operatives and supporters. And State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez lurks as an alternative nominee.

Denish has spoken out on the regional housing authority scandal, but has not delivered a broader ethics message or taken other high-profile steps to separate herself from the cloud of corruption. Neither has she taken note this year of the specific allegations that have made for the screaming headlines and damaged the popularity of Richardson.


Republicans, hampered by their lack of a well-known Guv candidate, are working to find their voice on the issue. Restless independent voters are prime targets. Can the R's define Di with the corruption mess before she gets out of the Dem primary? Does she have the luxury of continued silence as she tries to keep all Dems on board before the primary? Or does a break need to be made now to ensure general election viability?

There's no question that New Mexicans next year are going to want to turn the page on the pay to play and excessive political fund-raising that has tarnished the state. What message is Denish sending with the Cooper co-hosted fund-raiser? More important, what will be her message on the epic corruption that has infested the state during the time she has served? And when will that message come?


The name of the new communications staffer for ABQ mayoral candidate Richard Romero is Tim McGivern, not Tim McGovern, as we called him in a first draft. Of course, he's been called worse...Speaking of typos, we're not alone. Look at this one getting wrong the name of one of the mayoral candidates:

Congregation Albert Brotherhood will be hosting a mayoral debate on Sunday, September 13th at 11:00am. Congregation Albert has a long history of outstanding debates dating back 60 years. The invitees include Richard Romero, Martin Chavez and Richard Perry. Richard Romero has already committed to attend.

Richard Perry? That would be Republican Richard "RJ" Berry. But if Chavez agrees to debate him, he'll answer to any name you call him...

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