Sunday, July 29, 2007
State Workers Pitch in for Gov.
By Jeff Jones and John Fleck
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writers
State Fair deputy manager Rodger Beimer gave $500 in January, $1,000 in May and another $500 in June. He plans to top out at the maximum of $2,300.
State Workforce Solutions executive Stephanie V. Gonzales has made three contributions totaling $1,650.
And interim Natural Resource Trustee Jim Baca is giving something every month about $750 so far and counting, he figures via credit card.
They are among more than 235 state workers many of them managers and appointees who have contributed to Gov. Bill Richardson's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
A Journal analysis of Federal Election Commission reports found the Richardson campaign received more than $280,000 from state workers more than from any other employer.
Even so, the state worker contributions equal only about 2 percent of Richardson's total contributions nationally about $13.2 million.
Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have collectively raised more than nine times as much cash nationally as Richardson has.
However, neither has collected as much from any one employment source, the Journal analysis found.
Employees of the law firm DLA Piper were Clinton's largest single employee donor source, contributing about $175,000. The top employer source on Obama's list was the investment firm of Goldman Sachs: Those workers gave nearly $255,000.
Like other contributors, state workers who gave money to Richardson's campaigns for governor are getting mailers and calls soliciting money for his presidential bid.
Spokesman Pahl Shipley added that volunteers organizing fundraisers some of them state employees sometimes invite other state workers.
However, deputy campaign manager Amanda Cooper said there is "absolutely no concerted effort to raise money from state employees."
State Republican Party chairman Allen Weh said the number of state workers who have written a check to Richardson for President indicates otherwise.
"What (the campaign's response) means is, officially, they don't and unofficially, they do," Weh said. "You can't have that kind of response and there not be something organized about it. You can't convince me they all love him to death."
State employees contacted by the Journal said there has been no pressure to chip in.
"I think a lot of people are very loyal to him," said Baca, one of the governor's political appointees.
"I have never been called by his campaign to give money I did it on my own," Baca added. "A lot of people like the idea of a New Mexico governor running for president."
Mary Boyle, Washington, D.C., spokeswoman for the government watchdog group Common Cause, said it's unusual for a presidential candidate to bring in so much from state workers.
From one view, "It reflects well that people in state government must (like) him," Boyle said. From another view, "Questions could be raised as to whether state employees are being pressured to give out of fear their jobs will be in jeopardy if they don't," she said.
Boyle said the issue points to needed changes in the campaign finance system. Common Cause has endorsed full and voluntary public financing for presidential races.
"In an ideal world, you would not ask for political donations from people that you have hired. But it is not illegal, and candidates have to do everything they can (to raise cash)," Boyle said.
"Today, to run a presidential race, you have to reach out to absolutely everyone you have ever met in your life and do it over and over again. When you're the governor, that is going to include state employees."
New Mexico support
Federal rules bar contributions from corporations and unions and limit individuals to $2,300 in the primary election cycle, and $2,300 for the general election.
That makes fundraising all about how wide a net a candidate can cast.
Richardson has received donations from more than 38,000 contributors in his bid for the presidential nomination, according to his campaign.
New Mexicans in general gave him nearly $4.2 million far more than contributors in any other state. California, the No. 2 state on Richardson's money list and a traditional money faucet for Democratic contenders, has produced only $1.4 million.
Some state employees gave Richardson the $2,300 maximum while others made several smaller contributions over a period of months.
Cooper said Richardson has brought in more money from in-state contributors than any other federal candidate in New Mexico history.
Given the large amount of in-state money, she said, it makes sense that one of New Mexico's top employers state government with its roughly 20,000 workers would be well-represented in the contributor lists.
"That kind of outpouring of support reinforces the fact: This is a very popular governor," Cooper said.
The $280,000-plus tally doesn't include substantial contributions from workers at state colleges and universities, or contributors who gave $200 or less. Campaigns are not required to list those smaller individual donors in their reports.
The Journal analysis found other large government employers in New Mexico are not as well represented as state workers.
Contributors who listed Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories as their employers gave $10,200, FEC records show. Together, those labs employ about 20,000 people.
Contributors who listed Albuquerque Public Schools as their employer gave less than $10,000 to Richardson. APS has about 12,000 employees.
Beimer, the deputy State Fair manager and a governor's appointee, said he has known Richardson since he came to New Mexico in the 1970s, and volunteered for both of Richardson's gubernatorial campaigns.
Beimer said he recieved a letter from the presidential campaign but "absolutely" never felt pressure to crack open his checkbook.
"I was on a (contributor) list and got a letter. I've had a history of contributing. Once you get in the database, you're there for all the world to see, and use," Beimer said.
He said he plans to volunteer for the Richardson presidential camp but noted with a laugh that, "No one's called me yet."
"I told him I'd be happy to drive a motor home through the small towns of Iowa, if they would provide one," Beimer said. "I'd like to help him someplace."
Cooper said the campaign makes it "very clear" to potential volunteers who are state workers that they must do any campaign work on their own time and cannot use state resources.
"We are very, very clear about that," she said.
Baca, the former Albuquerque mayor appointed by Richardson as interim natural resources trustee, said he also has given in the past to Richardson.
This time around, he said he went to Richardson's campaign Web site to get contribution information.
"They withdraw some every month from my credit card," Baca said. "I'll probably give him more than $1,000 before it's over."
Gonzales, former Secretary of State and current state Workforce Solutions director of special projects, also said she has been a past Richardson contributor and was not pressured to give.
"You give what you can," Gonzales said. "He is the best-qualified candidate there is. That's why I'm supporting him."
Here are some of the state employees who have contributed to Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential primary election campaign:
Anthony Armijo, Department of Finance and Administration controller: $2,300.
Stuart Ashman, Cultural Affairs secretary: $1,300.
Arthur "Butch" Blazer, state forester: $500.
Brian Condit, Governor's Office deputy chief of staff: $1,000.
John Denko, Public Safety secretary: $2,300.
Dorian Dodson, Children, Youth and Families secretary: $2,000.
Kathy Duffy, State Fair marketing director: $1,200.
Rhonda Faught, Transportation secretary: $2,300.
Reese Fullerton, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources deputy secretary: $1,600.
Gilbert Gallegos, Governor's Office spokesman: $1,000.
LeRoy Garcia, Department of Transportation assistant deputy secretary: $1,000.
Veronica Garcia, state education secretary: $2,000.
Jon Goldstein, Environment Department division director: $1,000.
Gregory Griego, state Workers Compensation Administration administrative judge: $1,200.
David Harwell, state Taxation and Revenue Department spokesman: $1,700.
India Hatch, New Mexico Film Museum director: $750.
Bill Hume, governor's policy director: $2,300.
Pamela Hyde, Human Services secretary, $2,000.
Art Jaramillo, General Services secretary: $2,300.
James Jimenez, governor's chief of staff: $2,300.
Jerry L. King, state Land Office assistant commissioner: $2,300.
Dennis Latta, state Sports Authority executive director: $450.
Edward Lopez, Regulation and Licensing superintendent: $2,300.
Marlin Mackey, Taxation and Revenue chief information officer: $1,500.
S.U. Mahesh, Transportation Department spokesman: $750.
Sharon Maloof, Tourism Department deputy secretary: $2,300.
William Marquez, Corrections Department division director: $800.
Priscilla R. Martinez, Workers Compensation outreach specialist: $2,300.
Abelino Montoya Jr., Workers Compensation executive deputy director: $2,300.
Jose Morfin, Department of Transportation ombudsman, $1,750.
Jim Norton, Environment Department division director: $2,000.
Sandra Perez, state personnel director: $2,300.
Hilary Tompkins, Governor's Office chief legal counsel: $2,300.
Joe R. Williams, state Corrections secretary: $2,300.
Little N.M. support
Hillary Clinton and Barack ObAama are the runaway fundraising leaders nationally in the Democratic presidential race, but they aren't competitive with Bill Richardson on the governor's home turf.
Clinton, a senator from New York, collected more than $62 million in presidential campaign cash during the first half of 2007 while Obama, a senator from Illinois, raked in nearly $59 million.
Contributors from Clinton's resident state gave her $13.8 million, the most of any state. California donors pitched in $8.8 million, but New Mexicans gave her just $57,256.
California was Obama's top state with $8.4 million. Illinois contributors pitched in just over $7 million, but he collected only $64,801 from New Mexico donors.
A Journal review of Obama and Clinton finance reports turned up no contributions from anyone listing "State of New Mexico" or "State of NM" as their employer.
-- Jeff Jones and John Fleck