Show Me The Money!

Mayoral Candidate Finances: Who Got And Who Gave

The July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Reports for Mayor of Albuquerque have now been filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk.
(See July 15, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Metro & NM section, Section C “Colon leads mayoral campaign fundraising; Amount raised in last three months swamps competitors)

(https://www.abqjournal.com/1033252/colon-still-outpacing-opponents-in-fundraising-in-albuquerque-mayoral-race.html)

The amount any candidate raises is always made a big deal by the Albuquerque Journal.

What is always glossed over is what the candidates have spent money on and what candidates have left to spend during the last few weeks of the campaign.

There are only ten (10) weeks remaining until the October 3, 2017 municipal election.

The biggest campaign finance issue is will the candidates for Mayor be able to run a respectable and effective city-wide television and radio campaign including mail drops to educate and inform the public.

Political television ads, especially negative ads, can affect poll numbers and the outcome of the race.

POLL NUMBERS VERSUS VOTER TURNOUT

Political insiders and pundits claim a few polls have Tim Keller with a comfortable lead with his poll numbers in the high twenties or low 30s, while Dan Lewis and Brian Colon are running neck and neck for second place, with all the other candidates having very low single digit poll numbers.

Inside sources are saying the polls show there is high “undecided” number of voters, as much as 40%.

A sizable percentage of undecided voters should be no surprise seeing as that it is summer, people are taking vacations and the average voter is not paying any attention to the race.

The race is still early for any significant amount to be spent by any candidate on media.

Although there have been a few debates, the press and mainstream media have been dormant on covering the race.

At this point the polls are more a reflection of name recognition than public support which would explain why Democrat State Auditor Tim Keller, Republican Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis and former Democratic Party Chair Brian Colon are the top three tier candidates with their name identification and with Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson probably coming in fourth at this point in the race.

From a historical standpoint, municipal elections are very low voter turnout.

The reliable municipal voters tend to be 50 years and older and conservative.

Four years ago, only 19% of eligible voters voted in the lowest voter turnout since 1977.

BRIAN COLON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

From review of the finance report of contributions and expenditures, Brian Colon appears to be the only candidate thus far that has a large bank roll for television and media.

Brian Colon has raised more than $600,000 to date for his run for Mayor.

Over the last three months, Colon has only spent $54,000 on his campaign.

According to the financial reports, during the last reporting period, Colon raised $263,000.

Brian Colon has $517,000 available to continue his campaign.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for Brian Colon for Mayor:

1. Monetary donors listed who have contributed $5,000 or more during the most recent collection period include: Diane Perez, Fed Perez, Allegiance Realty Corporation, Alex Martin Chavez, Gab Alarid, Bryon Perez, Brent DuPont, Luis Robles, Cordova Contracting, Ivan Santistevan, Jared Cobb, Hammer Enterprises, Chavez law Offices, Larry I. Garcia, Pearlene Garcia, Pamela Wynn, Paul Wynn, Brian Hutson, Kayla Herig, Kevin Herig ($4,750), Christina Anaya ($4,650), Eilee DePonte and United Contractors.

2. Monetary donors listed who have contributed between $2,500 to $3,500 during the most recent collection period include: Alegando Blake, James Gonzales, Lauren Keefe, Gabe Alarid, Byron Paez, John Eave, Maria Cornay, Michael Granjean, Jill Montoya, Michael Montoya, Diana Cervantez, William Cervantes, John Eaves and Aleli Colon.

There are numerous donations of anywhere between $100 to $2,000 or more to the Brian Colon campaign during the last reporting period.

As a privately finance candidate, Brian Colon can continue to raise as much money he can up and until election day.

TIM KELLER CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Tim Keller is the only “publicly finance” candidate for Mayor.

Upon being qualified for public financing, Mr. Keller agreed in writing to spending caps and he is strictly prohibited from soliciting and using donations from any other source to run his campaign for Mayor.

According to the July 14, 2017 Tim Keller Campaign Finance Report, on April 3, 2017 the Keller campaign was given $342,952 by the City of Albuquerque in public finance paid by the Albuquerque City Clerk.

The July 14, 2017 Keller Campaign Finance Report lists Total Expenditures to date of $130, 863.63 of which the following amounts were paid to “Rio Strategies” for consulting and staff salaries and campaign management:

April 17, 2017, “CONSULTING” $42,110.31
April 17, 2017, “STAFF SALARY FOR JAN-MARCH $10,471.72
May 10, 2017, “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $20,784,24
June 6, 2017, “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $14,410,14
July 11, 2107 “STAFF SALARIES AND CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT” $14,201.60
TOTAL $101,978.01

The July 14, 2017 Keller Campaign Finance Report reflects that on July 11, 2017, the Keller Campaign paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES”, with an Albuquerque address, for “RESEARCH”.

According to their web page, “GBA Strategies” is a consulting firm that does research and “offers broad expertise in survey research and strategic consulting in corporate communications, branding strategy, international relations, and political campaigns at all levels of government. From Democratic candidates for office to socially conscious small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, labor unions and progressive ballot initiative campaigns to world famous cultural institutions, think tanks to advocacy groups and civic organizations, we delve deeply into our clients’ issues and audiences, conduct high-quality research, and develop winning game plans.”

According to their web page, “GBA Strategies” is a consulting firm that does research and polling and has offices in Washington, DC, Wilmington, DE, Chicago, Illinois and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

There is no specific disclosure in the finance reports what kind of “research” GBA Strategies is doing or has done for the Tim Keller campaign for Mayor.

From review of the finance reports, it appears the Tim Keller campaign for Mayor is in severe jeopardy of being underfunded to finance a realistic and viable media campaign on its own.

The Keller campaign has spent $116,978 of the $342,952 in public financing on campaign staff, consultants and political research, leaving $225,974 available to the campaign until the October 3, 2017 election for a television and radio media buy.

According to the Albuquerque City Charter for the first election, qualifying public financed candidates for Mayor are given $1.00 per registered voter in the city and if the Mayoral candidate makes it into the runoff, they are given an additional 33 cents per registered voter or approximately $118,000 for the run off.

In the event Mr. Keller in fact gets in a runoff, his campaign will be given approximately $118,000 more in public finance funds.

THE KELLER MEASURED FINANCE COMMITEE CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

According to the City Clerk’ Office, Tim Keller thus far is the only candidate for Mayor who has a measured finance committee called “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” formed on his behalf to support his run for Mayor.

Neri Olguin is identified on the City Clerk’s web site as the chairperson for “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” whose purpose is “to support Tim Keller’s bid for Mayor”.

Neri Olguin is with “Olguin Campaigns and Communications” and its web site lists as former clients the “2008 Tim Keller for State Senate (Primary)” and “Tim Keller for State Senate District 17 (General, 2012)”.

The July 14, 2017 contributions and finance report file with the City Clerk reflects that it received $21,600 in contributions, spent a little more than $19, 000 and it has under $2,600 left in the account.

Monetary donors to “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” include: New York City business owner Paul Rudd, $8,000, Santa Fe resident Alan Webber, $250, Santa Fe business owner Bill Miller, Miller Strategic Consulting, $500, Santa Fe resident and business owner Beth Beloff, $500, Santa Fe real estate professional Steve Flance, $250, Santa Fe health care professional David Joseph, $250, Santa Fe business owner( Best Daze Inc) Len Goodman, $500, Albuquerque business owner (Consultant) Sandy Buffet, $2,500, “RG Strategies” (Rich Guay Consulting) , $1,000, Albuquerque business owner (Los Poblanos Historic Inn) Penny Rembe, $1,000, State Senator Bill Tallman, $400, State Senator and attorney Jacob Candelaria, $500, Albuquerque finance investor David Blanc, $500, retired Albuquerque resident Marla Painter, $2,000, Albuquerque City Councilor Ike Benton, $200, Albuquerque resident David Vogel, $1,000, Albuquerque Attorney John Boyd, $200.

The July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for “ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER” reflects that on July 10, 2017, ABQ Forward Together paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES”, Washington, DC address, for “RESEARCH FEES”.

There is no specific disclosure in the finance report filed with the city clerk what kind of “research” GBA Strategies is doing or has done for ABQ Forward Together.

The finance reports file with the Albuquerque City Clerk reflect that on July 10, 2017, ABQ Forward Together paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES” for “RESEARCH FEES” and then on July 11, 2017, the Keller Campaign paid $15,000 to “GBA STRATEGIES” for “RESEARCH”, for a total of $30,000 paid.

Neither the Keller campaign finance report nor the ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER campaign finance report disclose what specific work or services were done on behalf of each of the committees.

The campaign finance reports do not report if the separate $15,000 amounts paid were charges for the exact same work and services to be shared by both campaigns.

The July 14, 2017 “ABQ Forward Together” finance report also reflects that on July 13, 2017, $2,500 was paid to “Holguin Consulting, Inc.”, Albuquerque address, for “CONSULTING FEES”.

The fact that ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER is a measure finance committee, registered with the City Clerk’s office, means it is not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like the individual candidates.

ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER will be able to continue to raise money up and through to the election day and beyond for a runoff election if Tim Keller gets into the runoff.

If ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER receives aggregate contributions more than 30 percent of the Mayor’s salary from one individual or entity, it must incorporate the donor’s name into the name of the committee.

For 2016 measure finance committees, the threshold number was $31,156.32 and will be likely be the same in 2017 because the Mayor’s salary has not changed.

If a billionaire donor such as George Sorus, the Koch Brothers or organized labor make a financial contribution of more than 30 percent of the Mayor’s salary to ABQ FORWARD TOGETHER, their names must appear in the name of the measured finance committee.

DAN LEWIS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

According to the July 14, 2017 campaign finance reports, Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis came in second raising money and raised $160,050.50 during the reporting period.

According to the July 14, 2017 finance report filed, Republican Dan Lewis has spent $117,841.82 and has $192,588.87 left in his campaign coffers.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for Dan Lewis for Mayor:

1. Monetary donors listed in the July 14, 2017 campaign finance report who have contributed $5,000 or more include: Mary Merrill, Michael Merrill, Sunwest Trust Inc, Jude Baca, Paul Wynn, 4 NM PAC, Albuquerque New Car and Truck Dealers.

2. Monetary donors listed in the July 14, 2017 campaign finance report who have contributed between $2,000 and $4,000 include: Larry Chavez, NTEGRATED Construction Services, Rebeca Gonzales, Manuel Archuleta, Dorothy Rainosek, Justin Baird, Steven Maestas, Phillip Oppedahl, New Mexico Restaurant Investors, Reform Sandoval County, Wayne Mitchell, Platinum Builders Corp., Marco Gonzales, Deborah Maestas, Michael Castro, James Gutherie, Conservative Alliance Committee, and Premier Consultants, LLC.

3. Monetary donors listed in the July 14, 2017 campaign finance report who have contributed $1,000 include: Dee Dennis, Jr., Avalon Building, LLC, Precision Surveys, Inc., Joe & Sons inc, Mark Wiggins, Cliff’s Amusement Park, Pete V. Domenici, Jr., Post Tension Reinforcing Services, Robert Perry, David King ($1,250), Associated Contractors of New Mexico, Albuquerque Center for Plastic Surgery, White Rock Crushing ($1,500), Michael Thompson, Brad Day, Gary Hays, J.D. Holdings, LLC, Robert Wood, James Paul Lewis, John Mancini, Butch Mathews, Riveside West, LLC, Paul Szymanski, and the Mudd Brothers.

According to the Albuquerque Journal report, Dan Lewis claims he is on target for fundraising and he is setting goals and meeting them.

As it stands now, Dan Lewis will have very little cash on hand to run a viable, traditional media political campaign on TV and radio.

$192,600 available to Dan Lewis for a television and media buy is not very much.

However, Dan Lewis appears to be running a “social media” campaign for Mayor and may not feel much will be needed for television and radio buys.

Making traditional short 30 second television commercials and making a large television and media buys appears not to be the strategy adopted by Republican Dan Lewis.

Republican Dan Lewis has produced and released 2 minutes or more commercials on FACEBOOK that are impressive, slick and well produced.

The Lewis ads released on FACEBOOK have been logged as having been viewed by tens of thousands with numerous comments.

At the end of one of the advertisements, the “Stoneridge Group” is identified as producing the commercial.

According to Wikipedia, the Stoneridge Group is “a political campaign marketing firm based in Alpharetta, Georgia, with offices in Louisville Kentucky. The Stoneridge Group provides the following services to pro-life, Republican campaigns, associations, and non-profits: voter contact mail, website design and complete online campaigns, print and collateral items, and strategic consulting.”

The July 14, 2017 finance reports reflect the Dan Lewis for Mayor campaign paid the following amounts to Stoneridge Group:

April 24,2017 $8,500 for “Digital, Video Photography”
May 3, 2017, $2,810 for “Digital Media”
May 4, 2017 $13,313 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Consulting”
May 5, 2017 $11,500 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Design”
May 5, 2017, $5,300 for “Printed Materials, Web Design, Digital Design”

There are severe doubts that a “social media” campaign will actually reach an older, conservative reliable voters who are 50 years of age or older who do not use social media such as FACEBOOK.

Republican Dan Lewis is a privately finance campaign so he can continue to raise as much money he can up and until the election day and a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not likely.

RICARDO CHAVES CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Republican Ricardo Chaves is a highly successful Albuquerque businessman and the founder of Parking Company of America.

Ricardo Chaves is a “self-financed” candidate for Mayor.

Notwithstanding his self-financing campaign, Ricardo Chaves reported receiving $8,647.48 in contributions in his July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report filed with the Albuquerque City Clerk.

Chaves reported that he loaned his campaign another $200,000 resulting in a total of $500,000 he has personally loaned to his campaign for Mayor.

Mr. Chaves reported he has spent $134,666.27 on his campaign and he has $373,981.53 remaining in his campaign account.

The July 14, 2017 finance report reflects the following expenditures were made to SC Consulting (Steve Cabiedes):

April 10, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $500.00
April 19, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $6,975.31
April 26, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $273.00
April 26, 2017, CONNULTING FEE, $15,331.54
April 28, 2017, CONSULTING FEE, $3,027.48
TOTAL $26,107,33

SC Consulting is the consulting firm believed to be responsible for the successful signature gathering of over 3,000 signatures of registered voters gathered within two (2) weeks to get Ricardo Chaves on the ballot.

The July 14, 2017 finance report reflects that the Ricardo Chaves for Mayor paid the following sums to Robert E. Cornelius for “CAMPAIGN CONSULTING AND MANAGEMENT” services:

May 17, 2017, $25,000
June 21, 2017, $75,000
TOTAL $100,000

Republican Ricardo Chavez for Mayor is a privately finance campaign so he can continue to raise as much money as he can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility.

The fact that Mr. Chavez has personally loaned his campaign $500,000 and that he has spent $126,107.33 in consulting fees indicates he is a serious candidate and is prepared to spend whatever he feels is necessary for media to win the election.

WAYNE JOHNSON CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Republican County Commissioner Wayne Johnson came in fourth in fund raising activity for the reporting period among the privately finance candidates.

According to the July 14, 2017 finance report filed with the City Clerk, Wayne Johnson raised $121,944 during the last period and he now has $187,000 cash on hand with $88,511,24 having been reported raised during the first reporting period.

Following are monetary contributors listed in the July 14, 2017 Campaign Finance Report for Wayne Johnson for Mayor:

1. Donors who have contributed $5,000 or more during the most recent collection period include: Keith Cheshire, Sedillo 500, Mosher Enterprises, 3313 Girard LLC, Vista Encantada Realtors, Mount Corporation.

2. Donors who have contributed $2,000 to $3,000 during the most recent collection period include: Ted Martinez, Steve Maestas, Wilson Law Firm, Admiral Beverage Company, Don Kaufman, Harrison Schmitt, Kevin Yearout, Russ Rhodes ($3,193) and LPG Enterprises, Don Bruckner ($3,193).

3. Donors who have contributed $1,000 during the most recent collection period include: Nancy Johnson, Scott Throckmorton, Lisa Torraco, NM Dental PAC, Hal Stratton, Doug Turner, Mike Frese, Gene Hinkle, Martin Haagmans, Steve Maestas and GCC Rio Grande, Titan Property Management, LLC, John Rockwell, Mike Mechenbeir and Paul Szymanski.

As a privately finance candidate, Wayne Johnson can continue to raise as much money he can up and until the election day.

The amount raised by Johnson to date raises real questions as to how much more he can raise and if he will be able to get his message out with a viable media buy.

MICHELLE GARCIA HOLMES CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Michelle Garcia Holmes is a former Chief of Staff for the State of New Mexico Attorney General’s Office and former Albuquerque Police Department Detective.

The July 14, 2017 financial report reflects Michelle Garcia Holmes reported contributions of $22,131 with expenditures of $73.28 and a closing balance of $27, 590.11.

Michelle Garcia Holmes and her husband Earl Holmes each contributed $5,000 for a total of $10,000 to her campaign for Mayor.

Independent Michelle Garcia Holmes is a privately finance campaign so she can continue to raise as much money she can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not likely.

SUSAN WHEELER-DEICHEL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Susan Wheeler-Deichel is the founder of Urban ABQ, a civic group who concentrates on urban planning and she promotes the “walkable city” philosophy on urban development.

The Susan Wheeler-Deichel campaign reported monetary contributions of $6,275, in-kind contributions of $420 and expenditures of $5,955.23.

Of the $6,275 in monetary contributions to the Susan Wheeler-Deichel campaign, $6,175 was a personal loan to her campaign.

Susan Wheeler-Deichel is a privately finance campaign so she can continue to raise as much money she can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not likely.

GUS PEDROTTY CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENDITURES

Gus Pedrotty is a recent University of New Mexico graduate having earned two degrees.

Mr. Pedrotty reported beginning monetary contributions of $1,506, monetary contributions for the reporting period of $2,955, in-kind contributions of $81.95 and total expenditures for the period of $2,474 with a closing balance of $1,986.64.

Gus Pedrotty is a privately finance campaign so he can continue to raise as much money he can up and until the election day so a traditional media buy is still a possibility, but a large amount raised is not at all likely given the meager amount he has raised thus far.

CONCLUSION

As the saying goes “a week in politics is an eternity”.

There is plenty of time for events to develop and missteps to influence the race for Mayor.

However, there is precious little time to raise serious money for an effective media campaign.

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 can become 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, but we will never get it in the age of Citizen’s United.

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About

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.