SANTA FE — A top source of money for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s political action committee is a Texas billionaire who has donated millions of dollars to conservative groups seeking to defeat President Barack Obama.
Martinez’s political organization, called Susana PAC, reported Monday that it raised about $336,000 in the past six months as an election-year fight looms over control of the Legislature.
Texas businessman Harold Simmons contributed $10,000 to the PAC and four companies affiliated with him gave $40,000.
The governor’s PAC spent $341,742 from October through April 2, including contributing $17,500 to four GOP House and Senate candidates.
Monday was the deadline for political committees and candidates to file campaign finance disclosures with the secretary of state’s office.
All 112 seats in the Democratic-controlled Legislature are up for election this year, and Republicans hope they can pick up seats in the House and Senate.
The governor’s PAC collected $336,033 in contributions since last fall.
Under state law, individuals and businesses are limited to giving $5,000 per election to a political committee. The governor’s political adviser, Jay McCleskey, said the contributions from Simmons and his companies represented $5,000 each for the primary and general elections.
Political committees affiliated with Democratic legislative leaders and a group that helps Democratic House candidates have stockpiled nearly $213,000 that can be used in the upcoming elections.
A PAC operated by House Speaker Ben Lujan, a Santa Fe Democrat who is retiring, reported a cash balance of about $80,000 and a PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, had cash-on-hand of nearly $59,000.
The governor also has been busy raising money with her gubernatorial campaign committee, which has a balance of $466,945.
Among the top contributors to the governor’s campaign committee were Texas developer Robert Perry and his wife, Doylene, who each gave $5,000. They contributed $450,000 to Martinez during her gubernatorial campaign in 2010. Limits on campaign contributions took effect after the 2010 general election.
Perry and his wife also gave $8,000 — $4,000 each — to the governor’s PAC in November.
Perry and Simmons helped bankroll Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which ran ads against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.
Simmons’ business interests range from chemicals to energy. He and his holding company, Contran Corp., have donated at least $12 million to American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal