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Friday, April 16, 2010

Our Latest Pic: Pat & Jerry's Sign Service, Plus: Raton Racino: Will Regulators Protect NM? And: Fed Campaign Reports: Barela's Bounce 

Here's one for a fun Friday.

What's that state vehicle doing parked there in Moriarty while Land Commissioner Pat Lyons puts up political signs for his run for the Public Regulation Commission? And whose that fella behind the tree helping Pat? (Click photo to enlarge)

One of our Alligators snapped this pic and wondered about those questions and more, so we asked Lyons' office if the commissioner isn't busted for using a government vehicle and a state employee's time to advance Pat's political career. The response:

That is actually Pat digging the hole and Jerry King, (assistant land commissioner for special projects) is lending a hand. Pat was in Moriarty putting up signs (that's his red truck with the signs in the back) and Jerry (who was driving the Tahoe) stopped by to say hi, since he lives in Stanley which is a few miles away.

It really was innocent. I believe Jerry was headed home from a meeting in Albuquerque. Our vehicle policy is that employees can take cars home if they are on official business.

Well, we've heard of stranger coincidences, but not many.

WAITING IN RATON


Folks, we have this deal for a Raton Racino collapsing before our eyes, and it isn't going to be the Canadian investor heading it up who is going to take the hit. It's the NM Racing Commission and the NM Gaming Control Board. Both are responsible for insuring that we don't have a gambling fiasco, and both have had plenty of warning.

We know Raton is hungry for this economic development, but what's worse--ending this deal now, or causing even more chaos by letting it go through and then seeing it disintegrate?

If the outfit in question can't open the racino by the deadline given, what does that say how about how they would run the place once it's open? New Mexico's regulators (hello, racing commission chair Marty Cope) have been given fair warning.

BARELA BOUNCE

ABQ GOP US House candidate Jon Barela finally flexed his biceps and came with a beefed up money report for the first quarter of the year. He said he raised $232,000 in his quest to unseat Dem Congressman Martin Heinrich That's Barela's best performance yet, marking the first time he has cracked the $200k barrier in a quarter and renewing hope among the party faithful that he can get this race more competitive.

It will take more than one good quarter, however, to really make Barela a serious threat. While he now has $392,000 in cash in his account, Heinrich, who reported raising $300,000 in the first quarter, sports a cash balance of $1.044 million.

TEAGUE VS. PEARCE

A look at the latest federal money reports shows Steve Pearce has narrowed Harry Teague's cash advantage in the hotly contested race for the southern congressional seat won by Teague in 2008 and previously held by Republican Pearce for three terms.

Pearce reports $708,000 in cash; Teague has $927,00. That's a $219,000 advantage for Teague. However, at the end of December Teague had $315,000 more in cash than Pearce.

Teague had an anemic first quarter in fund-raising, bringing in $132,000 compared to Pearce's $277,000. But his supporters assert that perhaps he is not as focused on fund-raising as Pearce, spending more time on constituent needs to build support in the district. They say he can make up for it by later writing a personal check to his campaign from his oil fortune as he did when he first ran in '08.

Both candidates have now raised over $1 million.

The Pearce-Teague race will be a godsend for the TV stations. Not only will the campaigns pump big money into ads, but national groups are expected to come with big money to influence the outcome in this toss-up race.

Quarerly money reports were due Thursday from all the federal candidates. Here's the AP wrap on the filings, including that of Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and his GOP rivals.

WHO ARE THEY?

We and others who follow campaign money closely have been none too pleased with a new development this cycle. Instead of listing the names and salaries of their campaign employees, many campaigns are giving the money to a professional payroll company who pay the salaries, making the staffers and their salaries unavailable on the official money reports.

Rep. Martin Heinrich is among those using this new method, so we asked him for a list of those who are working in his re-election effort. The campaign provided the info, which we list below, but why not list it on the report? Shouldn't voters be able to readily know who is working and getting paid by our congressman? Meanwhile, Barela is listing the names and salaries of his campaign staffers. Pearce is using a payroll company. Teague doesn't list any campaign staff payments on his latest report.

In the NM Governor's race, Republican Allen Weh, who previously told me he was going to list staff salaries and names, is using a payroll company and the public can't readily see who he is hiring and what they are paid. He earlier told us he was paying his campaign manager, Whitney Cheshire, the equivalent of about $75,000 per year.

Weh is suing Diane Denish over the release of records dealing with federal stimulus funds her office received in 2003. Shouldn't he be especially eager to list all of his own spending on his public money report?

Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor trumped Allen on this one. For one reporting period last year, Denish did not list staff salaries and positions, lumping them all under the "payroll company" heading, but in her latest report the sun shines on all those working for her.

After what New Mexico has been through when it comes to campaign money, you would expect all the candidates to let us know without having to ask who they trust to run their campaigns. After all, experience tells us many of them will end up with prominent roles in running our government.

Here is a list of Heinrich campaign staffers and their salaries released by the congressman's office.

Mike Sullivan, Finance Director--Mike makes $5,000/month; Molly Ritner, Finance Assistant--Molly makes $2,500/month; On March 19, Molly’s salary was raised from $2,300/month to $2,500/month; Prior to March 19, Molly made $2,300/month; Annie Olson, Office Manager--Annie makes $2,500/month; In March, Annie’s salary was raised from $13/hour to $2,500/month; Alex Eubanks, Researcher--Alex makes $10/hour; Maggie Smoak, Petition Gatherer--Maggie made $10.25/hour when she collected petition signatures in January

Thanks for stopping by this week. We appreciate the company. From Albuquerque, I'm Joe Monahan reporting.

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