Money Green With Envy (Updated)

The first quarterly finance reports for the October 3, 2017 Mayor’s race have now been filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk. (See April 18, 2017 Albuquerque Journal , page A-1, “Money already pouring into mayor’s race; new entrant lends himself $300K”)

Most of the candidates are “dirt poor” and probably “money green with envy” given what a few of the other candidates have been able to raise in private financing.

There are 16 candidates for Mayor registered with the City Clerk’s office with only State Auditor Tim Keller qualifying for public finance by collecting 3,800 qualifying $5 donations.

Following is what has been reported raised in cash from January 15 to March 31, 2017 by the candidates:

Deanna Archuleta, Democrat, former Bernalillo County Commissioner – $140,943
Ricardo Chavez, Republican, Founder of Parking Company of America – $300,000 (personal campaign loan)
Elan Colello, Democrat, CEO of a virtual reality company – $0 reported
Brian Colon, former State Democratic Party Chairman and attorney – $351, 553, ($389,834 to date)
Lamont T. Davis, City Employee – $0 reported
Mitchell Garcia Holmes, Independent, retired APD police detective – $ 6, 120 cash ($9,900 in kind)
Rachel Golden – $0 reported
Wayne Johnson, Republican, Bernalillo County Commissioner – $100,876
Timothy Keller, Democrat, first term New Mexico State Auditor – $380,0000 (City Public Financing)
Dan Lewis, Republican, Albuquerque City Councilor – $100,876 (Not including $90,000 carry over for a total of $190,000)
Scott Madison, Democrat, employed by Sandia Labs – $0 reported
Stella Ann Padilla, Democrat, community activist and Old Town resident – $3,495
Ian Page – $0 reported
Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty, University Student – $1,707
Jacob Shull – $0 Reported
Susan Wheeler-Deischel, Independent, founder Urban Albuquerque – $1,583 ($475 in kind)

Under Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, the maximum allowed contribution from any one individual donor or corporation is $5,193 which represents 5% of the Mayor’s salary.

I suspect the $5,193 donation cap could be easily challenged under “Citizens United”.

Only three candidates have secured the required 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot: Dan Lewis, Tim Keller and Michelle Garcia Holmes.

All candidates have until April 30 to submit their nominating petitions.

I suspect when it is all said and done, only seven candidates will be able to secure 3,000 signatures from registered voters to get on the ballot.

I have no doubt that the finance reports were what I call an “Oh S” moment in politics by under financed candidates.

The finance reports will motivate people to raise even more money as they chase each other to compete and to run commercials.

It really must be nice to be Ricardo Chavez and be able to just pull out your personal check book and write a check for $300,000 to run for Mayor.

Ricardo Chavez is a highly-respected businessman in Albuquerque and needs to be congratulated on his financial success and thanked for the contributions he has made to Albuquerque.

The biggest advantage of being able to “self-finance” is being able to say your beholden to only yourself and the biggest disadvantage is fooling yourself that you can just buy an election by financing it first not even knowing if you can get on the ballot by collecting 3,000 nominating signatures.

It is probably just as nice to be Brian Colon, Dan Lewis, Wayne Johnson and Deanna Archuleta to be able to ask your best “friends” to write you personal checks for $5,193.

What I found disappointing is Brian Colon referring to his $5,000 plus donors as “key stake holders” in the community giving the impression you need to be wealthy and able to make big contributions to be a key “stake holder” in his campaign or for that matter in the community given our city economy and New Mexico having the highest unemployment rate in the United States.

Tim Keller has got the best of all political campaign finance world’s by getting public financing to the tune of $380,000, claiming he is “walking the walk” and running a “grassroots campaign” while at the same time really being disingenuous when he accepts $380,000 in taxpayer, public finance money to run for Mayor and he does not make any sort of public commitment to decline assistance or request that no measured finance committee assist him to get elected or spend money to run commercial ads on his behalf.

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office and campaign finance reports filed, Mr. Keller received contributions of $487,276.66 and had expenditures of $545,372 as a candidate for New Mexico State Auditor and for this reason you can expect his State Auditor contributors to form a measured finance committee of one form or another on his behalf to help him run for Mayor.


The same highly paid political consultants that ran Keller’s campaigns for State Senate and State Auditor are running his campaign for Mayor and have already been paid $17,000 for the Mayors race this year alone and in 2016, Keller paid one political consulting firm $22,944 and another $14,018 from his State Auditor Campaign account according to Secretary of State records.

Four years ago, Mayor Berry raised over $910,000 in nine (9) months.

There is still over five (5) months left to raise money by the candidates for Mayor.

If no candidate gets 50% or more of the vote, a runoff is held between the two top vote getters, which means any successful candidate needs money to finance their campaigns both in the first election and then for the run-off if they make it.

I predict it will take $1 million to be successful to make it to the run-off and another $500,000 for the run off.

The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court Decision Citizens United is destroying our democracy.

Political campaign fundraising and big money influence are warping our election process.

Money spent becomes equated with the final vote.

Money drives the message, affects voter turnout and ultimately the outcome.

All too often, good, decent and qualified candidates do not run because they cannot raise the money.

Albuquerque municipal elections need campaign finance reform and enforcement.

On November 28, 2016, I posted at my blog article “2017 Mayor’s Race Needs Public Finance Reform.”

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.