It has now become abundantly clear that in the 2023 municipal elections for city council, Mayor Tim Keller, his politcal operative Neri Holguin and Keller supporters inserted themselves into the 3 city council races for City Council Districts 2, 4 and 6. Keller took an active roll in trying to elect city councilors who would support his progressive agenda over the final 2 years of his second term to set himself up to run for a third term in 2025. Keller has already made it known to top aides he intends to run for a third term.
HOLGUIN CONSULTING, INC.
Neri Holguin is the owner and primary principal of Holguin Consulting, Inc. Neri Holguin has been a political consultant since at least 2007. Holguin Consulting, Inc.’s web page lists campaigns Holguin has successfully managed including Mayor Tim Keller, Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton, Joaquin Baca, Ray Garduno, Bernalillo County Commissioners Barba Baca, Eric Olivas, Debbie O’mally, Maggie Hart Stebbins and Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen. Numerous State House Representatives and State Senator candidates are also identified. What all of Holguin’s Democratic candidates have in common is that they are decidedly “progressive”, no moderate or conservatives Democrats need apply for her services.
The link to Holguin Consulting, Inc.’s web page that provides background on the services it provides and lists clientele is here:
Neri Holguin has an extensive history of being Mayor Tim Keller’s political advisor, confidant and campaign manager. Holguin managed one of Keller’s state senate races. In the 2017 Mayor’s race where Keller was first elected, she headed up the measured finance committee that raised $663,000 to promote Keller when he ran the first time. In 2021, Holguin was the paid campaign manager for Mayor Tim Keller’s successful re election bid against Bernalillo County Sherriff Manny Gonzales and radio talk show host Eddy Aragon.
DISTRICT 2 (DOWNTOWN, OLD TOWN, PARTS OF THE NORTH VALLEY AND WEST SIDE)
In City Council District 2, Neri Holguin’s firm Holguin Consulting, Inc.’s was the paid political consultant for Progressive Democrat Joaquin Baca who prevailed over two other candidates to win outright without a run off. Baca was a public financed candidate and was successful in collecting the required number of $5.00 donations.
Campaign Finance Reports filed with the City Clerk reveal that on August 4, Baca was given the sum of $37,865.73 in city funding to run his campaign. Baca’s Campaign Finance Reports also reveal that Holguin Consulting, Inc. was paid a combined total of $35,791 (Final Statement, Financial Statements 11,10,9,8,7,6, and 5) for “Consulting and Staffing Services” of the $37,865.73 Baca received in public financing from the city.
The link to the finance reports file by Joaquin Baca with the City Clerk is here:
DISTRICT 4 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS)
In City Council District 4, Neri Holguin’s firm Holguin Consulting, Inc.’s was the paid political consultant for Progressive Democrat Abby Foster who ran against and lost to Republican City Councilor Brook Bassan. Bassan was a publicly finance candidate. Abby Foster, despite being a Progressive Democrat who supposedly embraces public financing of elections, did not seek public finance.
Review of Abby Foster’s Finance Reports filed with the City Clerk reveals that Foster raised at least $63,117.78 in private financing (Final finance report and finance reports 5,8,10 and 11) and paid Holguin Consulting, Inc. at least $64,921 for consulting fees, staffing and mail services, more than the $63,117.78 she reportedly raised.
The link to the finance reports file by Abby Foster with the City Clerk is here:
DISTRICT 6 (NOB HILL, INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT)
Confidential sources have confirmed that Rogers received significant help from at least 2 top aides of Mayor Tim Keller. Those Keller top aides assisted in collecting nominating petitions signatures and qualifying $5 donations Rogers needed to secure public financing of $36,917.30. It is unknown if the campaigning was done on city time.
Neri Holguin briefly consulted the Nichole Rogers campaign at the start of the regular election. Sources have confirmed that a falling out occurred between Rogers and Holguin over the extent to which Rogers was committed to do what was required of her and following Holguin’s instructions.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
KELLER USES HOLGUIN AS “POLITICAL TOOL”
On December 5, City Council District 6 Candidate Jeff Hoehn in response to false and misleading accusations made by Neri Houlgin in the political blog “New Mexico Politics With Joe Monahan”, confirmed that Neri Holguin called him in April of this year to convey to him Mayor Tim Keller’s message that he should not run for City Council. It is understood that Neri Holguin told Jeff Hoehn in no uncertain terms that he could not win and not to run and that he would not be receiving the support of Mayor Tim Keller if he did run. In particular, Keller was said to want a “woman of color” to be elected and Nichole Rogers fit the profile.
HOLGUIN FUND RAISES FOR MEASURED FINANCE COMMITTEE
Now that Nichole Roger’s has made it into the runoff, Neri Holguin has taken to soliciting donations on behalf the measured finance committee that is supporting Nichole Rogers and has produced a false and misleading political hit piece against Jeff Hoehn.
On November 29, Holguin sent out a campaign solicitation asking the question “Will you support Nichole Rogers for City Council District 6? In her solicitation correspondence, Holguin proclaims $12,000 was needed to be raised but she does not say what it will be used for. The correspondence makes the inflammatory accusations that “Jeff Hoehn despite being a Democrat, didn’t qualify for public financing and has relied heavily on a PAC funded by real estate/oil and gas/Republican donors to prop up his campaign.” Holguin identifies the measured finance committee backing Jeff Hoehn as “HELP ABQ & The National Realtors Association”
There is no way it can be said Jeff Hoehn is being propped up by oil and gas interests nor by developers in that he has raised on his own over $47,000 and has spent upwards of $40,000 on his campaign to make it to the runoff. No donations from oil and gas donors nor from major developers such as NAIOP can be found when you review his campaign finance reports.
Progressive Democrat Jeff Hoehn has said repeatedly that he entered the race very late and consequently he had to go the private finance route. Hoehn’s campaign has been successful with private fund raising. Review of all Campaign Finance Reports filed with the City Clerk, which includes 3 Run Off Finance Reports, reflects Jeff Hoehn has raised $47,261.61 in cash contributions and $39,773.39 in campaign expenditures to date with no loans reported as due and owing. $1,010,21 in “in-kind” contributions are reported.
When you study Hoehn’s campaign finance reports you find his donations are coming from District 6 residents and small businesses in District 6 with many coming from neighborhood activists in the District. Jeff Hoehn’s campaign has raised money from neighbors, friends and family members.
There are absolutely NO donations from people associated with oil and gas interests nor from major city developers. According to Hoehn’s 3rd and latest Runoff Financial statement he has a cash balance of $3,798.07. Much more is expected to be reported in in the next report due after the December 12 election.
The link to review Jeff Hoehn’s Campaign Finance Reports is here:
Contact was made with City Council District 6 candidate Jeff Hoehn and he revealed he has in fact turned down donations from the likes of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) and developers and others he does not know nor major Real Estate Companies. He has not solicited any donations from the oil and gas industry, the real estate community nor Republicans as implied by Neri Holguin’s fund-raising effort for Rogers.
ONE NASTY LITTLE POLITCAL HIT PIECE
A “political hit piece” is the lowest form and most unethical form of negative campaigning used by bottom feeder political consultants to smear the reputation of an opponent with the use of lies. It is often condemned by the public, especially by those who are the target, but used because negative campaigning works and it’s difficult to respond to by a candidate, especially at the end of a contentious campaign.
It did not take long to find out what the $12,000 was going to be used for which was a “politcal hit piece” on Jeff Hoehn. On December 5 a “politcal hit piece” mailer was sent to all District 6 registered voters. The flyer was from Real New Mexico Leadership, the measured finance committee supporting Nichole Rogers and that Neri Hoguin solicited the $12,000 in donations for.
The politcal hit piece says in part “Jeff Hoehns biggest backer has the kind of record we don’t need in Albuquerque. … With friends like these, we can’t count on Jeff Hoehn to stand with us.” The politcal hit piece then goes on to make the inflammatory accusations of “Sexual harassment reports by multiple woman”, “Discrimination against people of Color trying to buy homes”, “Paid $1.8 Billion jury veredict for inflating the price of home sales commissions.” The politcal hit piece uses a unflattering photo of Jeff Hoehn positioned next to the accusations ostensibly to imply that Hoehn condoned the conduct or was guilty of the same conduct. The very, very fine print that strains they eye to read at the bottom offers as a Fact Checker and identifies the National Association of Realtors who was accused of the conduct.
The political hit piece is a classic ploy used by Neri Holguin. It is referred to as a “guilt by association” political hit piece to disparage and align a political opponent. The measured finance committee, or Politcal Action Committee, “Help ABQ and National Association of Realtors” is the real subject of the hit piece. Looking at the hit piece at a glance you would think it was Jeff Hoehn who was accused of sexual harassment and discrimination.
Under the City of Albuquerque’s campaign finance laws, a Measure Finance Committee is a political action committee (PAC), person or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measures within the City of Albuquerque. Measure Financed Committees (MFA) are not required to get “permission or authorization” from candidates they support to spend money on their behalf, even if the candidate objects or tries to distance themselves from the MFA.
Pollical operative Neri Holguin knows full well what the truth is, what the law is, and knows when it comes to Measured Finance Committees or Political Action Committees such as “Help ABQ and National Association of Realtors”, candidates have no control over them nor what they do. Holguin insists on promoting false narratives in her donation solicitation email as well as the politcal hit piece that because an endorsement has been given or a donation is made by a measured finance committee, that somehow Jeff Hoehn is affiliated with the PAC or donor, that he is relying on the PAC and he will do the donors bidding once elected which is simply a lie.
NEW MEXICO SUN ARTICLE
On December 5, the online news agency NM Sun published the following news article:
HEADLINE: “Controversy surrounds ABQ Mayor Tim Keller’s alleged political assistance in District 6 race; Candidate Nichole Rogers under scrutiny”
“In the run-up to the Dec. 12 runoff election for District 6, Mayor Tim Keller is facing allegations of backing specific candidates through his political apparatus and influencing city employees to support his chosen contenders.
While Keller is accused of supporting several candidates behind the scenes, the focus has intensified on the District 6 race, where progressive Democrat Pat Davis is stepping down.
Sources reveal that Keller has been actively involved in the campaign of Nichole Rogers since its inception, with suggestions that his support may extend into the runoff.
Rumors have been circulating that Rogers has privately informed progressive Democrats in District 6 that she is Keller’s chosen candidate to succeed Pat Davis, who is known to be an ally of the mayor.
The alleged interference in the race has raised concerns about the impartiality of the electoral process and the extent of Keller’s influence over the candidate selection.
Sources confirmed that Keller’s team reached out to candidate Jeff Hoehn even before he officially announced his candidacy. Hoehn was reportedly informed unequivocally that he could not win and should refrain from running, as he would not receive the support of Keller.
Confidential sources have identified Joaquin Baca, Abby Foster and Rogers as Mayor Keller’s favored candidates for Districts 2, 4 and 6, respectively.
Keller’s campaign did not respond to an interview request from the New Mexico Sun.
Early voting began Nov. 21 and will continue until Dec. 9, with Election Day on Dec. 12, and voters can utilize either option, while absentee voters should request applications by Nov. 28.
Rogers’ background has received extra attention from blogger Pete Dinelli.
In a post, Dinelli dug into the background of Rogers revealing a history of civil litigation involving debt collections, evictions and property liens.
Dinelli also highlighted undisclosed misdemeanor convictions, failure to file required documentation for her nonprofit and questions about Rogers’ residency in District 6.
Dinelli uncovered misdemeanor traffic offense convictions that Rogers did not disclose in her candidate questionnaire to the Albuquerque Journal, and questions have been raised about her residency in District 6, suggesting she may have lived on the Westside while using a property she owns in District 6 for candidacy purposes.
Dinelli’s review of court docket records shows 7 civil litigation cases involving nonpayment of rent, judgments and garnishments linked to a person believed to be Rogers.
Despite being provided with the list of cases, Rogers declined to verify her involvement in them in a November 24 email.
A review of Bernalillo County Clerk records reveals that two liens were filed on a residence owned by Rogers, the address she provided as her residence for City Clerk records.
The liens, filed by the City of Albuquerque for delinquent water, sewer and solid waste charges, totaled $591.75 and $1,457.52, respectively, with the latter lien released on Aug. 11, 2022.
Rogers’ claim of residing in District 6 for six years, a requirement for candidates, was also challenged by Dinelli as county records show she purchased the home in question five years ago in 2018.
Confidential sources and neighbors suggest that the property may have been rented out, and concerns are raised about Rogers’ actual occupancy due to reports of disrepair, neglect and the recent cleaning up of the front yard.
Rogers faced scrutiny from the Albuquerque Journal over her nonprofit, Welstand Foundation, which has raised funds despite being delinquent in paperwork with the AG’s Office, Secretary of State and the IRS.
Rogers, who says the foundation effectively disbanded in 2021, acknowledged oversights and is working to get paperwork up to date, including IRS and AG submissions.
The foundation’s solicitation of donations has raised concerns, prompting the AG’s office to look into the matter, while Rogers views the situation as a learning experience.
The New Mexico Sun also touched on the issue noting IRS revoked the foundation’s tax-exempt status in May 2022, while the Secretary of State listed it as “active” but “not in good standing” and that Rogers faces questions about the foundation’s operations and fundraising activities while not in compliance with state and IRS requirements.”
The link to the New Mexico Sun article is here:
ROGERS FAILING FORWARD CANDIDACY NO CLEAR CHOICE
Neri Holguin in a fund-raising plea for the benefit of Nichole Rogers and on behalf of a political Measured Finance Committee sent correspondence where she smears Hoehn by saying this:
“We can elect Nichole, the clear progressive choice for this election, but we need your help. … We need Nichole because we can not afford a more right-towards tilt on the City Council!”
There will be no so called “more right-towards tilt on the City Council” as Holguin implies if Jeff Hoehn is elected given the fact he is a decidedly Progressive Democrat. Jeff Hoehn has been Democrat all of his life, and works with nonprofits and works directly with progressive organizations and elected officials on many levels.
Holguin calling Nichole Rogers the clear progressive choice for District 6 is so very laughable and so very wrong on so many levels. Rogers’ campaign has been severely damaged as a result reports of a disturbing history of civil litigation involving debt collections and evictions, property liens, misdemeanor convictions, failure to file state and federal documentation for the non-profit she runs and questions if she has really lived in the district for 6 years as she claims or if she is living in an apartment on the West side with her family. She has admitted to the mismanagement of her nonprofit.
When the news reports first broke on Roger’s problems relating to her nonprofit, Rogers admitted that she mishandled her charitable non-profit, which benefited from both private contributions and COVID relief money from the city. Rogers claimed her conduct was not disqualifying. Rogers said this:
“I am a person who has had successes and has had failures. But I really believe in failing forward. When you know better, you do better and I’m someone who can teach folks to watch out for these pitfalls.”
When confronted with her history of litigation and legal problems and asked to confirm if she was the named defendant in the cases, she declined to do so and said this:
“I have discussed a lot of this openly during my campaign, I have TRUE lived experience with being unable to pay rent on time, with poverty, and with navigating systems. … I would love to talk about how my own experience with poverty has led me to be where I am today. As a victim of identity theft, I do not share personal information via email or over the phone.”
Nichole Rogers boldly proclaims that she “really believe[s] in failing forward” and that she has “TRUE lived experience.” How about just not failing by following the law, knowing better, taking full responsibility for your mistakes and not repeating them and not deflecting the truth. How about paying your debts, securing mandatory car registrations and car insurance, and attending scheduled court hearings to avoid bench warrants being issued for your arrest.
The blunt truth is Nichole Rogers has not been forth coming. Her credibility is in serious doubt because of falsehoods and failures to disclose. She has failed to be completely transparent when it comes to her litigation history and her residence.
MCCLESKEY MEDIA STRATEGIES
Neri Holguin and her politcal consulting firm Holguin Consulting, Inc. are not the only ones that have made a buck from public financing which is taxpayer money. Political Consultant Jay McCleskey is the primary principal in the firm McCleskey Media Strategies. The firm is a full services public relations and marketing firm. The company provides direct mail services for political candidates for office targeting voters. It also produces radio and television advertising. The most notable clients the firm has provided politcal consulting services over the years has been former Governor Susana Martinez, Republican Senate and NM Governor candidate Mark Ronchetti, former Mayor Richard Berry and former Bernalillo County Sherriff Manny Gonzales who ran for Mayor in 2021. McCleskey Media Strategies over the years has provided campaign consulting services to numerous Republican City Council candidates.
The link to the firms web site is here:
In the 2023 City Council races, McCleskey Media Strategies was the politcal consulting firm to Incumbent Republican City Councilor Brook Bassan who successfully ran for re election in City Council District 4 and to Republican City Councilor Candidate Daniel Champaign in District 8 who won the race defeating Democrat Idalia Lechuga Tena. Both Bassan and Champaign qualified for public financing by securing the necessary number of $5.00 qualifying donations.
Campaign finance reports for Republican City Council Brook Bassan reflects that Bassan on September 4, 2023 was given by the City of Albuquerque the sum of $39,697.70 in public financing to run her campaign. Campaign finance Report statements 6,8,9,10,11 reflect that McCleskey Media Strategies was paid a combined total of $37,413,08 for campaign consulting and design services out of the $39,697.70 given in public finance.
The link to review the Brook Bassan campaign finance reports is here:
Campaign finance reports for Republican City Councilor Elect Daniel Champaign reflects that on September 4, 2023, the City of Albuquerque paid his campaign the sum of $44,102.75 in public financing to run his campaign. Campaign finance Report statements 5,8,10 and 11 reflect that McCleskey Media Strategies was paid a combined total of $40,212.50 for campaign consulting and design services out of the $44,102.75 in public financingx
The link to review Daniel Champaign’s campaign finance reports is here:
FINAL ANALYIS AND COMMENTARY
Political consultant and Mayor Tim Keller confident Neri Holguin has become the Progressive Democrats version of what Republican political consultant Jay McCluskey is to the conservative Republicans. Over the years, McClusky was twice the campaign manager for Mayor Richard Berry as well as numerous candidates for city council. Both have made very lucrative livings off of municipal candidates for public office getting their share of public financing, which is taxpayer money, for their political consulting services. Both engage in what is referred to as “slash and burn tactics” to disparage and malign the opposition. Both represent what is so very wrong with politics in this day and age of Donald Trump.
Holguin is known for making false and inflammatory allegations and smearing an opposing candidate not considered “progressive enough” to Holguin’s liking. The tactic she uses is “wedge politics” that pits her progressive candidates against any and all “moderate” or “conservative” Democrats, and where the opposition is progressive, she maligns them as not being true progressive. This is the type wedge politics that is dividing the Democratic Party. Voters are also so disgusted when it comes to measured finance committees misleading people and negative campaigning to smear the opposition.
The problem is that although people condemn negative campaigning, it still works and is hard to overcome. The influence of big money in elections allowed by the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United is destroying our democracy. Many highly qualified candidates for office all too often do not bother to run because of the inability or difficulty raising the necessary money to run.
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 of an election.
Links to related Dinelli blog articles are here: