SANTA FE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez appealed to supporters via email in March to help her catch up on fundraising following the Legislature’s annual regular session.
But while Martinez and her re-election campaign were barred by state law from knowingly soliciting political donations from Jan. 1 through March 12 because of the session, they weren’t prohibited from accepting contributions.
And they did accept, according to Martinez’s most recent campaign-finance report.
The Martinez campaign took in more than 1,800 donations totaling $203,000 dated Jan. 1 through March 12 from individuals, political action committees, companies and others.
A campaign spokesman said the contributions were the result of a fundraising letter in December.
The Campaign Reporting Act bars governors and their agents from knowingly soliciting contributions from Jan. 1 each year through the 20th day after adjournment of the Legislature’s annual regular session. The 20th day fell this year on March 12.
Martinez sent out her “help me catch up” fundraising email on March 13. She said that while she was unable to solicit contributions, her Democratic opponents were furiously raising money.
Two candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge the Republican governor in the fall election – Howie Morales of Silver City and Linda Lopez of Albuquerque – are state senators, and the Campaign Reporting Act also prohibits legislators from knowingly soliciting political donations from Jan. 1 until after the Legislature adjourns its annual regular session. Adjournment fell on Feb. 20 this year.
During the prohibited period, Morales accepted nearly 50 contributions totaling $7,765, and Lopez accepted 26 donations totaling $4,850, according to their most recent campaign-finance reports.
The legislative session prohibition on soliciting donations didn’t apply to the three other Democratic candidates for governor – former government executive Lawrence Rael, state Attorney General Gary King and businessman Alan Webber.
As of April 7, the Martinez campaign reported it had stockpiled $4.2 million for the governor’s re-election effort. Webber reported having $439,914 on hand, Rael $228,767, King $89,177, Morales $47,500 and Lopez $19,289.
Martinez’s “help me catch up” fundraising email landed in the inbox of the government email account of at least one state employee.
The Martinez campaign said it tries to keep government addresses off its email list.
“I’m pretty sure you realize this, but – at some point – I will be able to prove the same point against any number of the candidates running against the governor,” Martinez spokesman Danny Diaz said.
Diaz later provided a copy of a fundraising appeal sent by Rael in November to a government email account for a University of New Mexico employee.
The Rael campaign said it reviews its email list in an effort to remove government addresses, but it added that addresses ending in .edu – like those for UNM employees – include both public and private schools.
Last fall, a spokesman for Martinez said the governor had decided to return $25,000 in political donations from a Martinez appointee and her husband because of racist comments the husband made decades ago.
The most recent finance reports for the Martinez campaign and the governor’s political action committee, Susana PAC, show the money was returned. The refunds were dated April 7, more than five months after the campaign said the money would be returned.
“We transitioned CPA firms, and it was processed when reconciling for the reporting period (of Oct. 8 to April 7),” Martinez campaign spokesman Chris Sanchez said.
The Martinez campaign and Susana PAC returned $9,600 in contributions to Charmay Allred of Santa Fe and $15,400 in donations to Edward Allred. The donations were made in 2012 and 2013.
Charmay Allred was appointed to the state Arts Commission in 2003 by Gov. Bill Richardson and reappointed by Martinez last October. A few weeks later, the governor decided to return the Allreds’ money because of Edward Allred’s comments about Hispanics and blacks in 1980.
Edward Allred, who founded a chain of abortion clinics in California, said Hispanic immigrants had a lack of respect for democracy and social order. “I’d set up a (abortion) clinic in Mexico for free if I could,” he said.
Edward Allred also said, “When a sullen black woman of 17 or 18 can decide to have a baby and get welfare and food stamps and become a burden to us all, it’s time to stop.”
Asked about those comments, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2002, “That’s just not the way I am.”
Edward Allred, who has homes in Nevada and California, is owner of the Los Alamitos Race Course in California and part-owner of the Ruidoso Downs racetrack and casino in southern New Mexico.
The Allreds haven’t lived together for many years but remain married. Charmay Allred, who has been a major donor to Democratic candidates, said last fall that all the political donations to Martinez came from her husband and she had nothing to do with them.
UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go toABQjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.