Tuesday, May 09, 2006


The campaign finance reports are in. Well ... most of them. Here's a link to the Secretary of State's page. Hope you don't get as frustrated as us reporters -- and some candidates -- were yesterday.

In the big race, Gov. Bill Richard has raised $3.8 million in the past year, bringing his total up to nearly $7 million. His Republican opponent Dr. J.R. Damron has raised only $285,000, two thirds of which is from himself.

I wrote a couple sidebars about the campaign finance reports filed Monday in the Secretary of State's Office.

First there's a piece on the charities that got a windfall from the Richardson treasury -- courtesy of the Guy Riordan/state Treasurer scandal.

Then there's a story about money raced in local contested legislative races.

Here's a link to the Associated Press story on the governor's race.

Versions of these stories were published in The Santa Fe New Mexican

May 9, 2006

Gov. Bill Richardson’s re-election campaign donated $44,560 in contributions from his friend Guy Riordan — an Albuquerque investor implicated in the state treasurer scandal — to a wide array of charities, Richardson’s campaign manager said Monday.

The contributions include Riordan money going back to Richardson’s first run for governor four years ago, said campaign manager Amanda Cooper.

The total amount of Riordan contributions to Richardson was higher than what previously has been reported. This is a result of new campaign-finance reports filed Monday with the Secretary of State’s Office. Richardson’s report shows Riordan gave Richardson at least four contributions totaling $15,560 between May and August 2005.

Most of the 70-plus contributions were for $500.

Several Santa Fe charities were among the recipients of the Riordan money.

Some of these were the St. Elizabeth Shelter, Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families, Kitchen Angels, the Food Depot, the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, Youth Shelters and Family Services, The Santa Fe Boys & Girls Club, Girls Inc., Partners in Education, the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art and the Santa Fe Public Library.

But the Riordan contributions allowed Richardson to play Santa Claus all over the state. Other recipients included Character Counts in Roswell, Alternatives to Violence in Grants, the High Plains Junior Rodeo in Tatum, the New Mexico Immunization Coalition in Albuquerque, the Deming Senior Center Meals on Wheels program, the Las Cruces Gospel Rescue Mission, the National Indian Youth Leadership Program in Gallup and the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Committee in Socorro.

A Riordan contribution entered into another political race Monday.

The campaign of Lem Martinez, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, released a statement blasting primary rival Geno Zamora for accepting a $2,500 contribution from Riordan. "Zamora receives tainted money," the e-mailed statement said.

However, Zamora spokesman Allan Oliver pointed out that April 20 — the same week Riordan’s name came up in the federal corruption trial of former Treasurer Robert Vigil — Zamora donated the money to the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Early in his term, Richardson appointed Riordan, who owns a commercial hunting ranch, to the state Gaming Commission.

On the first day of the federal trial, Vigil’s predecessor, Michael Montoya, testified that he received as much as $100,000 in kickbacks from Riordan in exchange for investment contracts. Most of this money, Montoya said, was passed to him in restroom stalls at restaurants.

Riordan’s lawyer denied this. Riordan hasn’t been charged with any crime.

But the governor didn’t take any chances. Shortly after the story hit the wires, Richardson announced he immediately was removing Riordan from the Game Commission and said he’d donate all his Riordan contributions to charity.

Other candidates, including Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, Attorney General Patricia Madrid and Gary King, another Democratic candidate for attorney general, have passed on donations from Riordan to charities.


Incumbent state Rep. Luciano "Lucky" Varela leads his two primary-election rivals in contributions, reports filed Monday reveal.

According to Varela’s report, filed Monday with the Secretary of State, Varela has raised more than $72,000 and has spent nearly $16,000 in his campaign to keep his seat in Santa Fe’s District 48.

His closest challenger, former Santa Fe City Councilor Ouida MacGregor, has raised more than $23,000 and spent more than $15,000.

The remaining contender, accountant Andrew Perkins, had not filed his report by Monday evening. In an interview, he said he’d raised more than $8,600 — of which more than $5,700 was a loan from himself. Perkins has spent all but $2 of his treasury, he said.

Varela’s report filed Monday does not include some $6,000 he received at an October fundraiser hosted by state Insurance Commissioner Eric Serna. Serna is on paid leave while the Attorney General’s Office investigates his relationship with Century Bank and Con Alma, a nonprofit health-care organization that he chaired.

Varela announced he would returned that money to the contributors after The New Mexican revealed several figures tied to the insurance industry attended the fundraiser.

Varela couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. His campaign treasurer, E.J. Martinez, said those contributions — as well as the refunds — were filed with the county Elections Bureau after Varela folded his campaign for state treasurer earlier this year.

County offices were closed Monday night by the time Martinez was interviewed.

Some of those who donated to Varela at the Serna fundraiser gave Varela more money afterward. This includes the AFLAC insurance company of Columbus Ga., which gave Varela $1,000 April 30, and lobbyist Dan Najjar, whose clients include AFLAC. Najjar’s firm gave Varela $500 April 30.

On March 30, Nestor Romero — who was at the Serna fundraiser — and his wife gave Varela’s treasurer campaign $1,000. The treasurer-campaign funds later were transferred to Varela’s legislative campaign.

Romero’s company, Regulatory Consultants Inc., has received fees totaling more than $10 million in the past two years for performing examinations of insurance companies for Serna’s office. Under the state’s system, the examiner is paid by the insurance companies instead of state funds. Romero’s company has performed 90 percent of the insurance examinations since 2003 through no-bid contracts.

In October, members of the state Legislative Finance Committee — chaired by Varela — expressed concern that the practice of hiring examiners without a formal bidding process could give the appearance of favoritism.

In a contested legislative Democratic-primary race in Rio Arriba County, incumbent Rep. Debbie Rodella reported raising more than $10,000 in the past year. That’s on top of the $18,000-plus she previously had in her campaign treasury. Rodella reported spending more than $11,000 in the past year, leaving her war chest with more than $17,000.

Her opponent, former Rio Arriba County Commissioner Moises Morales, did not file a report Monday. He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday evening.

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