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Liberal political action committees

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Speaker of the House Ken Martinez, D-Grants, at the start of the 2014 legislative session. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Speaker of the House Ken Martinez, D-Grants, at the start of the 2014 legislative session. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Snapshots of other liberal political action committees, or PACs, in the web and their activity just before the primary election:

The DLCC New Mexico Committee

The PAC (DLCC is an acronym for Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee) was essentially broke before receiving $58,000 in contributions in April and May from a union, a lobbying firm and business interests, including coal, tobacco, software and payday-loan companies.

The PAC on May 20 contributed $5,200 each, or a total of $46,800, to nine other PACs in the web, including the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund. It also made donations to two PACs outside the web.

DLCC Executive Director Michael Sargeant said in a written statement:

“Under Speaker Martinez’s leadership, the New Mexico House fights for working families and better schools – and we’d like to keep it that way. The chamber is a top priority for us at the DLCC and we were happy to continue our support for those who share this goal.”

Martinez said he doesn’t advise the DLCC New Mexico Committee on how to spend its money, other than asking the committee to contribute to his PAC.

WOLF PAC

Headed by House Majority Whip Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, the newly formed PAC filed a registration form June 14 with the Secretary of State’s Office.

It addition to $5,200 each from the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund, the trial lawyers PAC and the DLCC New Mexico Committee, WOLF PAC has received a $5,200 donation from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to a report of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The PAC contributed a total of $15,700 to four of the eight Democrats in key House races: Emily Kane, Phillip Archuleta, Catherine Begaye and Joanne Ferrary. It gave another $5,000 to the Keep New House Majority PAC.

WOLF PAC’s only other reported expenditure this year was a $50 fee to register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Maestas said there is no direction or coordination among the PACs in the web, but he added:

“We all have the same agenda. The agenda is to protect the House. … There’s really no disagreement on the priority races.”

Forward New Mexico

The PAC, chaired by Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque, had less than $600 in the bank before receiving a total of $20,550 in contributions in April and May from the DLCC New Mexico Committee, the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund, the Committee on Individual Responsibility, or trial lawyers, PAC, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and the American Federation of Teachers.

It contributed a total of $20,200 in May to four of the eight Democrats in key House races: Archuleta, Kane, Elizabeth Thomson, and Stephanie Garcia Richard, according to the PAC’s report of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. The PAC has reported no other expenditures this year.

The trial lawyers PAC previously donated the maximum $5,200 each to Archuleta, Thomson, Kane and Richard.

Chasey said she – not donors to her PAC – makes the decisions on what to do with the money taken in by her committee. “But I also know what the key races are,” she said, adding that the PAC has acted lawfully and transparently in its actions.

Viva New Mexico

The DLCC New Mexico Committee reported making a $5,200 donation to the PAC on May 20.

The PAC, largely dormant since the 2012 election, made a $5,000 contribution to Garcia Richard on May 27, according to a report of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.

A Strong New Mexico PAC

Newly created, the PAC filed its registration form with the Secretary of State’s Office on May 27.

The PAC in May received $5,200 donations each, or a total of $15,600, from the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund, the trial lawyers PAC and the DLCC New Mexico Committee, according to a report of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. Democrat Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque, running unopposed for the House, gave $1,000.

The PAC in late May and early June contributed a total of $14,700 to five of the eight Democrats in key House races: Ferrary, Archuleta, Begaye and Matthew McQueen and Harrison Todacheene. Its only other reported expenditure was a $50 fee to register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

New Mexico Defense Fund

Associated with Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, the PAC had less than $300 in the bank before receiving a total of $31,000 in contributions in May.

On a report of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office, the PAC said it received $5,200 donations each from the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund, the trial lawyers PAC, the DLCC New Mexico Committee, the American Federation of Teachers and Egolf’s campaign committee. It also reported a $5,000 contribution from an individual donor in Santa Fe.

The PAC donated a total of $15,000 to four of the eight Democrats in key House races: McQueen, Todacheene, Begaye and Ferrary. Its only other reported expenditure this year has been a $5,000 contribution to the Keep New Mexico House Majority PAC.

Egolf said the PACs that donated to the New Mexico Defense Fund didn’t direct how the money should be used. The names of Democrats in key House races and in need of campaign finance support are public information, he said.

“Hopefully, they won’t spend it on emery boards and refrigerator magnets,” he said.

Egolf said he hopes to attract additional and smaller donors to his PAC. He said the PAC has spent money in the past on support for candidates other than contributions and may do so again this year.

Our New Mexico PAC

The PAC – headed by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque – reported receiving a $5,200 contribution from the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund and several smaller donations in May.

In late May and early June, it contributed a total of $6,050 to four of the eight Democrats in key House races: Thomson, Kane, Archuleta and Garcia Richard, according to PAC and candidate reports of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. The PAC has reported no other expenditures this year.

Candelaria said the challenge for Democrats is to get their message out to voters while operating within the law. The candidate contributions by the web of liberal PACs may be a response to a fundamental problem, he said.

That problem, he said, is caps on direct contributions to candidates but no limits on how much nonprofits and others can raise and spend in support of candidates as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidates.

“You’re capped,” he said. “You’re cut off at the knees. … That’s a tension that now exists in law that wasn’t envisioned.”

New Mexico Freedom

A newly created PAC, it filed a registration form in March with the Secretary of State’s Office. The chairman is Scott Forrester, a former executive director of the state Democratic Party.

The PAC received a total of $31,800 in donations this year, according to reports of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The donations include $5,200 each in May from the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund, the trial lawyers PAC, the DLCC New Mexico Committee and the Albuquerque Federation of Teachers.

The PAC contributed a total of $26,300 in April and May to the eight Democrats in key House races.

New Mexico House Majority Fund

The PAC, chaired by Rep. Mimi Stewart, received $5,200 donations each, or a total of $15,600, in May from the Ken Martinez Leadership Fund, the DLCC New Mexico Committee and the trial lawyers PAC, according to a report of contributions and expenditures filed with the Secretary of State’s Office.

On May 22, the PAC donated $5,000 each to three of the eight Democrats in key House races: Thomson, Kane and Archuleta.

The PAC has reported no other expenditures. Its only other reported contributions this year are $2,250 from the American Federation of Teachers and $2,700 from the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

Stewart said no outsider directs how the PAC spends its money. “That’s not allowed, and I don’t do it that way.”

She said Democratic House candidates need enough money to run competitive races. “It’s challenging to do it through the law,” she said.

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