Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Judge's Judgement: Will He Return Campaign Cash From Those Charged In Metro Court Scandal? Plus: Pearce Draws Youthful Dem Challenger 

Judge Kavanaugh
Who will be the next politician to give up tainted campaign cash from indicted figures in the giant Metro Courthouse scandal? Big Bill, Light Guv Denish and AG King say they are turning over to charity money received from the indicted. But what about J. Michael Kavanaugh, the presiding judge of ABQ Metro Court when plans to build the new courthouse were first hatched and a project from which the feds say taxpayers were bilked out of $4 million?

Records gathered by your blog show that Kavanaugh, who left his Metro Court judgeship in 2004 when the Governor appointed him to District Court, received a total of $8,000 for his 2004 District Judge campaign from persons indicted in the courthouse scandal. That total represents 42% of the $18,850 Democrat Kavanaugh reported raising for his race which he narrowly won against Republican Sharon Walton.

The ABQ Tribune reported in October 2004 that Kavanaugh, a NM Highlands University graduate, received $5,000 from Toby and Sandra Martinez, the indicted Metro Court administrator and his wife who are accused of stealing $2 million. He also received $2,000 from the now indicted engineering firm partner Raul Parra who is accused of looting $770,000.

Our review of state records also shows that Datcom Inc. gave Kavanaugh a donation of $500. Parra is charged with recruiting a subcontractor, Datcom. Inc., owned by Manuel Guara. Guara, who has entered a plea bargain with the feds, would submit inflated bids to the general contractor on modifications that would be approved by Martinez. Our review also reveals a $500 contribution to Kavanaugh's '04 campaign from former State Senator Many Aragon who is charged with ripping off $700,000 in the construction of the $83 million


In November of '06 KRQE-TV reporterLarry Barker revealed that the Feds had questioned Kavanaugh about the courthouse caper, but Barker reported his sources told him the judge was not suspected of bribe-taking. He reported that Kavanaugh was interviewed by authorities about a meeting he had with Aragon and Martinez at which Senator Aragon said he could get construction funds for the new courthouse approved by the Legislature.

Kavanaugh became a Metro Court judge in 1991 and was appointed by Governor Richardson in 2004 to District Court. He then ran for and narrowly won a six year term in a contested election against the GOP's Walton. According to media reports, indictments are also possible in connection with the construction of the District Courthouse where Kavanaugh now serves.

Judge Kavanaugh is not legally bound to give up any campaign contributions, but some of his political counterparts have decided it is the right thing to do. Will he or won't he? Stay tuned.


The spate of politicos who received what could be ill-gotten gains in the form of campaign cash from the Metro Court indicted is an ever-growing one, that includes R's and D's. Next we could be hearing of donations received by Bernalillo county commissioners, or other judges, not just the one covered here today. Arraignments for those charged have been set for April 12.

Bill McCamley
Is he young and dumb or smart and forward looking? Those are the questions surrounding the southern NM Democratic congressional candidacy of 29 year old Dona Ana County Commissioner Bill McCamley who Tuesday announced his anticipated run for the seat held by Republican GOP U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce. McCamley, who I met while doing PR work for Sunland Park Racetrack, is bright, if also tinted with youthful hubris. He has little chance of unseating Pearce in the heavy conservative CD. Even if Pearce, untouched by the US Attorney scandal roiling NM Rep. Heather Wilson, were to leave to run for a U.S. Senate seat vacancy created if Senator Domenici left, the Pearce seat would still be safe R, or conservative Dem in the tradition of the late Harold Runnels. McCamley is not a conservative. He was one of he most vocal supporters of the Dona Ana spaceport tax, a tax that appears to have narrowly passed, but drew the ire of conservatives that McCamley would need to take the seat.

McCamley will not have the '08 primary to himself. He faces opposition from 71 year old Democrat Al Kissling, who despite losing 60% to 40% to Pearce in '06, wants another chance. Insiders tell me no other major Dem candidates are expected to join the race. McCamley has curried favor with Big Bill and that may help, but liberal and moderate D's in the district who will have some influence in a primary election will press both men on their stand on Iraq. McCamley made no mention of the USA's #1 issue in his announcement. Kissling was not that outspoken about it in his last campaign. Statements anyone?

At 29, it can't hurt running a long shot congressional candidacy. It could open some doors. Bill Richardson did it in 1980 when he was 32. McCamley needs to pay some dues, and it appears he is willing to pay.


I mixed up the Dem Prez primaries in my initial take Wednesday on that Colorado poll showing Big Bill at only 2 percent. Readers reminded us that Colorado is a February 5 primary state and that it is Nevada, the first state where Bill hopes to make a major impact, has the January 19 primary. We had Colorado coming too early.

Back tomorrow with a final note on the week. Thank you, New Mexico, for your continued support.

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