Thursday, April 12, 2018

Under The Gun: Guv's Machine Targets Auditor Candidate McCamley's Questionable Financial Forms; Mystery Over His Income And Employment 

Bill McCamley
The Governor's political machine is going to work on Bill McCamley, the Dona Ana County state representative and Dem state auditor candidate, and it appears he has no one to blame but himself.

In his finance report this week McCamley reported he loaned his campaign $45,000 but on the financial disclosure form state officials are required to file, McCamley reports no employment, no source of income that provides him with more than $5,000 a year, no spousal income or employment and no financial interests that may present a conflict of interest.

So where did McCamley get $45,000 if he doesn't have a job or any assets? That was the question that former State Senator Rod Adair, a charter member of the Guv's machine, posed on social media.

McCamley, 40, isn't required to reveal if someone other than himself loaned him the money and he in turn loaned it to his committee, but for someone who is running for the position that audits agencies across the state and given his self-reported circumstances, how he came up with this loan will raise suspicions. Still, McCamley ignored a request for comment, leaving it to speculation whether he received a loan, for example, from someone who might do business with the state auditor's office and which could represent a conflict of interest.

McCamley responded to this report Thursday and offered an explanation for the loan, saying it was from personal funds. His full response is below.

But if McCamley loaned himself the money where did it come from? If he is being straight on his state financial disclosure forms for the past several years he has had no income or employment. And if it's true he had no employment during this long stretch what does that say about him wanting to become State Auditor? And if he has a trust fund and gets at least $5,000 a year from it, that must be reported.

We asked Brian Colón, McCamley's opponent for the auditor nomination, for comment but he did not respond. But current GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson, who was appointed by Gov. Martinez when Tim Keller was elected ABQ mayor and whose campaign for election we're told is being handled by none other than Guv Machine leader Jay McCleskey, jumped at the chance to take McCamley down. Seemingly out of the blue he issued a news release that compiled the financial disclosure statements required for elected officials. He said:

Certain candidates and elected officials are required to file Financial Disclosure Statements, which reveal their sources of income and potential conflicts of interest. Officials are required to disclose any income over $5,000 and identify its source, using a list of broad and general categories. The report found that not all elected officials have complied, concluding, “Despite this requirement, four (4) financial disclosures contain no reported sources of income at all for either the elected official or the official’s spouse in this category.”

And, of course, McCamley, a potential Johnson general election foe, is one of those only four officials who reported no sources of income. We get the point, Wayne, but in case we didn't Johnson helpfully posted all the disclourse forms, including McCamley's.

Johnson condensed the disclosure forms that are filed with the Secretary of State so to make sure his information was true we looked at the McCamley statement filed with the SOS and it matches what Johnson put out.

McCamley is a former Dona Ana County Commissioner. During his campaigns for the legislature we recall him reporting several jobs he had, including one in the solar industry. On his candidate website he says "he has had many diverse jobs."

Well, the political community eagerly awaits McCamley's explanation of his financial resources as they assess the candidates qualifications for the financially sensitive position of state auditor. Meanwhile, Rod and Jay have got Bill pinned to the mat. And he may not get back up.


Here is Rep. McCamley's explanation of the loan which came after our report was posted.

Yes, I’ve lived off of my legislative per diem and a few small contracts for the last few years. I’ve done this by keeping my expenses low. I live in a studio apartment, drive a used car, and haven’t had a vacation in a year and a half because I take my role as a Legislator seriously. I’ve devoted my time to work on serious policy issues and respond to my constituents when they have problems.

Furthermore, I’ve never hid the fact from my constituents and even documented how and why I do this in a 2016 Facebook video.

The $45k loan I gave myself to run for Auditor? That is half of my life savings. Some of it came from an inheritance I got a decade ago when my grandmother passed away. Most of the rest came from my work selling solar panels in 2014-15, combined with the markets growing in the last few years of the Obama administration. It did not come from anyone else but me. I view public service as one of the most valuable things we can do to make our communities better, and am proving it by being willing to put half of what I own into the process.

The fact that I am being attacked by Jay McCleskey and Wayne Johnson on ethical grounds is hilarious.

I have been known for my work on ethics as a legislator, co-sponsoring a bill to establish our first ethics commission. I also am one of two legislators that has not taken meals, ski or golf passes, etc, from lobbyists. Because of this, I have received the highest grade possible from New Mexico Common Cause.

Wayne Johnson was appointed State Auditor on Dec 1. Instead of resigning his seat on the Bernalillo County Commission immediately, he stayed on for a few months. This not only gave him two taxpayer funded salaries, it allowed him to vote on Dec 12th to give a $13 Million County contract to Yearout Electric. The company's CEO has been a large and regular donor to Mr Johnson in his races for County Commission and Albuquerque Mayor. The later is now under discussion with the City ethics panel.

It’s no secret I have been one of the toughest fighters against Susana Martinez’s terrible term as Governor and when information came out that she and the Jay McCleskey-run Susana PAC were possibly getting illegal campaign contributions last year, I asked the Attorney General to investigate. And this wasn’t the first time McCleskey has had run-ins with the law, being investigated by the FBI for similar problems in 2015.

So what’s happening here is obvious. Wayne Johnson has ethical issues and is scared that I am the strongest candidate who can defeat him in November. So he hired the Governor’s attack dog, with his own history of problems, to attack me in order to cover up his own ethical lapses.


From BernCo:

The County Commission is accepting applications from individuals interested in filling the vacant District 22 seat of the NM House. Governor Martinez will appoint a replacement for James E. Smith who resigned from the legislature to fill the Bernalillo County District 5 seat on the county commission. The County Commission District 5 seat was vacated by Wayne Johnson who is now the State Auditor. Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and Sandoval Counties will each send nominees for the Governor’s consideration. Nominations from interested individuals in Bernalillo County will be accepted until Tuesday, April 17, at 5 p.m. 

This week we identified Kristin Haase as the PIO for the Public Regulation Commission. Her correct title is assistant to PRC Commissioner Sandy Jones . . .

ABQ Journal reporter Dan McKay tweets out:

Cross another one off the list: NM Supreme Court rules former Representative Idalia Lechuga-Tena can't run in the ABQ district she hadn't lived in for a year.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Following Up On Filing Day; Readers And Operatives Weigh In, Plus: Apo's Fight Against Joe's Petitions Headed Back To Court 

The political operatives and Alligators have been busy mulling over the finance reports filed by the candidates this week and they have some filing day follow-up. . .

We pointed out that Dem land commissioner candidate Stephanie Garcia Richard has come in light in the cash count when compared to rivals Garrett VeneKlasen and George Munoz. Tarin Nix spins it for Stephanie:

Munoz has loaned himself everything but 48k. Garcia Richard has raised more in half the time. Loaning yourself 200k isn't proving viability with voters. VeneKlasen has raised a good amount and spent it on nothing. $131,000 wasted on consulting fees. None on advertising...not enough left for TV. Garcia Richard will win because we spend our funds correctly. Best ad of the year....40,000 door knocks...thousands in targeted advertising...with way more to come.

VeneKlasen, with $82,000 in cash and still raising money, may very well have enough for a TV buy in the campaign's final weeks whereas Garcia Richard with only $32,000 might be the one to find herself in the dark. But then there are those third party groups that sometimes emerge to help candidates out.

A reader poring over the reports from DC points out we came in low when we said Michelle Lujan Grisham's polling expenditures for the last six months were $72,000. Our reader notes she has spent $158,300 on polling. Her pollster is Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner which has a lot of experience in the state and they obviously get paid quite well for that.

In the Dem race for lieutenant governor we noted Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrey had a solid six months by raising $78,000. However, we should point out that  $25,000 of that was a loan Garrett made to himself.

And how about Hector? We didn't get into his financial report Tuesday because we concentrated on the contested races and Dem Attorney General Balderas has no primary opposition. But it's worth pointing out that he now has $891,000 in cash in his account. That's 20 times more than his Republican opponent Michael Hendricks who has $44,000 in cash on hand. Blair Dunn, the Liberation Party candidate for AG, reports having $7,500.


After his first effort to remove Joe Cervantes from the June 5 primary ballot failed, Guv hopeful Jeff Apodaca will make a last stand. His challenge to Cervantes' petition signatures was thrown out by a District Court judge on a technicality. Apodaca attorney Cate Stetson sets the stage for round two:

We have found case law that opposes the judge's dismissal and filed a motion for reconsideration in the District Court. The case he cited was not applicable to the facts. Also, we have other cases in New Mexico by the federal court and by New Mexico courts that. . . say the Attorney General does not need to be served notice by the party making a petition challenge. The fact that the attorney general appeared in court and entered his appearance on the record, and participated in the writing of the order kind of begs the question in my mind; however the motion includes this information and there is still time to go through the petition signatures if the court wants.

It is an uphill battle in New Mexico to challenge petition signatures, as challenges are disfavored by the courts due to our policy of encouraging as many people as possible to exercise their right to participate in choosing their political representatives. However, perhaps that should be balanced against the specter of blindly accepting duplicate signatures, signatures of deceased people, signatures of people from another party, signatures that are not made by the person whose name is signed, and incomplete signatures and registration information. 

The Cervantes campaign denies he has submitted bad signatures.

Veteran consultant Steve Cabiedes, who has specialized in petition gathering for several decades and who is not working on any Governor campaign, was critical of the decision to throw Apodaca's case out simply because the attorney general had not been officialy served notice of the challenge:

What are we to think? We've had petition challenges for years brought before the courts and the vast majority without notifying the AG of the complaints. The secretary of state does that. Are we to assume all those candidates who did not notify the AG with their challenges should have had them thrown out?


There will be some candidates this year who won't have the headache of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver  says:

(My office) has certified candidates for the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) and statewide judicial seats to receive public financing to fund their campaigns in the 2018 election cycle.

The full list of those candidates and how much public money they will receive can be found here.

Peter St. Cyr, a veteran news reporter and most recently the executive director of the NM Foundation for Open Government, has a new gig. He's the new public information officer for GOP State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn. Kristin Haase has left the post to become assistant to for Dem Public Regulation Commissioner Sandy Jones.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Money Race: Pearce And Lujan Grisham In Solid Shape; Joe Gives A Jolt And Writes A Million Dollar Check; APO Running Low On Ammo Plus The Cash Count In Other Big State Primary Contests.  

Where are most of the statewide candidates headed now that they've filed their money reports covering the last six months? Well, most of them will make a beeline to the desks of thankful TV executives who will have no trouble putting to work the hundreds of thousands raised by the contestants. Let's take a look at the cash hauls filed with the SOS Monday and start with the top of the ballot. . .

Steve Pearce is holding his own in the money department but can he continue his fund-raising pace with a Blue wind blowing in his face? That's a question that arose as the gubernatorial hopefuls filed their finance reports for the six months ending April 2.

Right now it's pretty much even-steven between the two leading Guv contenders. Pearce reports $2.1 million in cash on hand and Dem Michelle Lujan Grisham reports $1.8 million. Pearce raised $1.6 million in the period but that included a transfer of over $780,000 from his congressional fund.

Lujan Grisham came with $1.4 million raised in the period and has now raised a grand total of $3.6 million for Campaign '18. That means she has burned through half of her cash but she did score a landslide win at the Dem preprimary and remains the odds-on fave to take the Dem prize so her supporters argue it was not overspending but money well spent. The expenditures this period include $108,000 for TV production. Her campaign says her ads for the June 5 primary will start this month. She also spent $158,000 on polling.

(Full Pearce report here. Lujan Grisham report here. Joe Cervantes report here. Jeff Apodaca report here. AP coverage here. New Mexican here. Journal here.)

Pearce's campaign is not going to starve but the momentum is with the Dem candidate and she is on pace to outraise him, especially if polling shows the race tilting her way.  But with $2 million already in the bank and no primary opponent Pearce has a solid financial foundation to build on. A Dem consultant commented:

Steve Pearce will not lose the Governor's because of money. If he loses it will be because this turned out to be a Democratic year.

So it's unlikely the Dems will overpower Pearce financially. He has a long and successful record of raising money. He also has something else in his corner. The most recent ranking of the NM Governor's race from heavily followed pundit Larry Sabato has it "lean Democrat" not "likely Dem." That will help Pearce blockade the narrative that the contest is a done deal for the Dems--at least until when or if public polling shows otherwise.

Meanwhile Sabato's "Crystal Ball" has the US Senate race here featuring incumbent Dem Martin Heinrich as "Safe" and not the lower rank of "likely Dem" that GOP Senate hopeful Mick Rich may have been hoping for.


Joe Cervantes gave the Guv race a jolt as the attorney, state senator and agri-businessman wrote a check from his personal bank account for $1 million and plopped it into his campaign account. That's on top of an earlier $500,000 he loaned himself. And he hasn't spent much of his loot, leaving $1.4 million in cash on hand. Hey, if spent wisely that could do some serious damage. So will he?

That was the question on the lips of politicos statewide (including Michelle and Jeff) as they gave the multi-million dollar man another look. The other question being how do you apply for a job with the Joe Cervantes campaign and help him spend that pile?

His campaign says it's the real deal, with a spokesman predicting a TV buy in the area of $600,000. One thing for sure: Cervantes can now argue he's the man nobody  owns. 

Oldtimers will pick up on what we just said. When Jerry Apodaca ran successfully for Governor in 1974 his slogan was: "The man nobody owns." Now his son, Jeff, is trying to follow in Dad's footsteps but is having trouble gaining traction. He reports only $323,000 in cash on hand for the final two months. That's enough to get on TV strong for a couple of weeks but that's not enough to win.

Part of the problem is the spending. He raised $253,000 and spent $628K. Apodaca has loaned his campaign $450,000 in personal money. If elected, Jeff has promised to bring 225,000 jobs to the state. Judging by the numbers of hangers-on he has on the campaign payroll, he's down to 224,000.

And what's up with those "consulting fees" of $14,000 Apodaca paid to former Guv candidate Peter DeBenedettis who at the March 10 preprimary convention dropped out of the race and endorsed Apodaca? A couple of days later the $14k is dropped on Peter who was also named Apodaca's communications director. Well played, Peter. Even Jay McCleskey and Alan Packman would have trouble pulling off that deal.


Howie Morales led the Dem pack of lieutenant governor candidates in the fund-raising derby, raising $103,000, spending $52K and leaving him with $53K in cash on hand. He did that despite not getting started until December and by law not being allowed to raise money for 45 days during and around the legislative session.

The political committees of several fellow state senators of Morales kicked in considerable cash, including ABQ Sen. Ivey-Soto who came with $5,000. Amon Morales' major expenditures was campaign consulting provided by Jim Farrell.

Morales scored a big win at the Dem preprimary and is favored to take the June 5 nomination, but Dona Ana County Commissioner Billy Garrett had a solid fund-raising period reporting $78K. Former ABQ State Rep. Rick Miera raised $58K.


Las Cruces State Rep. Bill McCamley outraised his Dem rival Brian Colón, but Colón's camp was quick to point out that Colón got in the race late in the reporting period (in early January) and also that McCamley loaned himself $45,000 of the $111,000 he reported raising. Colón, known for his fund-raising prowess, reported raising $76,000 for the three months his report covered.

Appointed GOP State Auditor Wayne Johnson will be the R nominee. He reports raising $43K and a cash balance of $37K.


Garrett VeneKlasen was the leading money raiser in this one but he also spent a lot of what he raised. He took in $145,000 and sent out $131,000. His cash balance is $82,000.

State Sen. George Munoz loaned himself $100,000 in the reporting period and has spent some on TV. He is reporting $160,000 cash on hand. Munoz fared poorly at the preprimary convention, getting below 20 percent of the vote. But with that kind of personal cash could he become only the second person in history to win the June 5 primary without getting 20 percent at the preprimary?

Stephanie Garcia Richard raised $55,000 spent $54,000 and had a cash balance of $30,000. That cash balance seems a bit low and gives Munoz hope that he will not split as much of the Hispanic vote with her as his supporters fear. We'll see.

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Monday, April 09, 2018

Cervantes And Apodaca Squabble Brings McCleskey Back Into Spotlight; Lujan Grisham Says No Problems For National Labs But Pearce Warns 

It's the race for Governor that tops the Monday blog.

The two men who seek to take Michelle Lujan Grisham down a notch and get the contest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in play are now squabbling. That's a hope fulfilled for her and allows her to go unscathed with the June 5 primary now less than two months away.

State Senator Joe Cervantes was a happy camper last week in the aftermath of a court victory he won against Jeff Apodaca. It means he won't get kicked off the ballot over his petition signatures (unless there's an unlikely Supreme Court reversal). But Cervantes wasn't happy enough to stop him from floating a conspiracy theory about Apodaca, the aggressive ABQ businessman. The Dona Ana County lawmaker walked out none other than Jay McCleskey, the controversial political consultant to Gov. Martinez, accusing Apodaca's campaign of playing footsie with the leader of the once vaunted Martinez political machine:

I think the Apodaca campaign is getting some of its advice from the Martinez campaign people. I’m told that there may be all kinds of games at play here.

That was a reference to the rumors floating about that McCleskey has met with Apodaca about his Governor campaign and may be providing him with advice. Not good because McCleskey is now a toxic figure in Democratic as well as most Republican  political circles. Apodaca's campaign manager moved to put out the fire calling Cervantes' claim "laughable" and "completely untrue" adding:

That’s actually kind of crazy. I don’t know where he came up with that.

Crazy or not the charge that Apodaca and McCleskey are collaborating is such a nightmare scenario for Dems who have been subjected to 8 years of browbeating by the brash consultant that it is sure to have them digging through Jeff's closet for any signs of the political bogeyman--just as Joe hoped.


Despite running two successful gubernatorial campaigns on behalf of Gov. Martinez, ousting Senate Dem Leader Michael Sanchez and engineering a brief GOP takeover of the state House, McCleskey has been mostly shunned by his fellow R's. That's because he turned his guns on those in the GOP who would not play his version of hardball with him and there were plenty who would not.

However, he has managed to secure a consulting contract with former Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman who is seeking the GOP nomination for the southern congressional seat. But that's already turned problematic, with Newman getting crushed at the GOP February preprimary convention, a development knowledgeable R's blame on his hiring of the resented McCleskey. But that doesn't mean Monty is out of the game. Far from it.

That point was made clear when the AP was fed a story by the Newman forces that called into question the ethics of the woman who humiliated him at that preprimary convention. The news:

(Alamogordo State Representative and congressional candidate Yvette Herrell) failed to disclose that her real estate company earned nearly a half-million dollars in contracts with two state agencies over five years, according to an analysis of campaign finance disclosure records by The AP. The review of documents found Herrell's company, Herrell Properties, took in $440,000 by renting property to the Taxation and Revenue Department and  the Environment Department since 2013. However, she did not disclose that income on ethics disclosure statements, but listed herself as the company's owner,

Not an explosive charge but still a nick on the neck that, of course, will soon be followed by negative TV ads courtesy of Newman who has an advantage over Herrell in fundraising.

Newman showed over $356,000 in cash on hand at the end of last year, compared to Herrell's $202,000. Federal finance reports for the first quarter have been filed but are not yet public. Herrell was restricted from raising money while she attended the 30 day legislative session. That will hurt. Newman is well connected to the SE energy business where the boom times are back and which he can tap for campaign cash.

The Newman-Herrell battle is a kind of proxy battle for the future direction of the state GOP. A win by Newman-McCleskey would give them a foot back in the door that has been closed to them by the likes of GOP National Committeeman Harvey Yates and others who became disgusted with Gov. Martinez and have taken control. Soon-to-be GOP gubernatorial nominee Steve Pearce is squarely in the Yates camp. He has not publicly endorsed a candidate for the congressional seat he is giving up but you don't need a detective to figure out where he's at.

(There are two other GOP hopefuls in the primary, but this one is Newman vs. Herrell all day long)


Rep. Pearce
The state got a brief preview of a possible Pearce-Lujan Grisham match-up when they appeared before business leaders last week. It was their takes on national security and the big budgets it provides to the state that proved the most newsworthy:

"We need to be a good host, not always compliant, but a good host," Pearce said, adding that state leaders need to acknowledge the real possibility that other states could successfully woo the labs and functions. Lujan Grisham dismissed that idea, saying " those labs are not going anywhere."

That was a bit of an eyebrow raiser for the ABQ congresswoman, not because anyone expects the labs to go anywhere but the concern, as Pearce indicated, is how much of them will stay here. There is a serious play under way to move the billions of dollars for upcoming plutonium "pit" production to a facility in red-state South Carolina. Numerous security and environmental lapses are another concern that could influence the future of Los Alamos.

ABQ's Sandia National Labs has better future visibility than Los Alamos. The Trump budget pumps up the national nuclear budget. However, in the not too distant future Kirtland Air Force Base--where Sandia is situated--will likely be subjected to another dreaded BRAC review. The Base Realignment and Closure study could lead to an eventual reduction in the KAFB mission.

Lujan Grisham's cocksure statement that the Labs are "not going anywhere" may offer a political palliative to New Mexico but it does not cover the nuance of the matter. That her statement in some quarters was read as a taunting of the Trump administration, which holds sway over the billions of funding for the labs, gives the possible future governor another reason to regroup before Pearce starts chipping away.

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