NM Money: McCain Rakes it In; Downticket Money Update; and I Receive My First Democratic Fundraising Call…

One month ago I wrote about the upcoming McCain visit to Albuquerque and how it might be a test of enthusiasm for the candidate (June 17, 2008–Upcoming McCain Event Will Test Appeal to Indies, Conservative Democrats and GOP Base’s Enthusiasm).

There have been many reports and blog commentaries about the event itself, but I was curious to see how McCain fared in terms of monetary support.  Apparently, there is cash flowing here in New Mexico among the Republican money base.

According to blogger Joe Monohan,

Numbers were still being added up for that ABQ McCain fundraiser held at the Hilton Inn Monday night but Ken Zangara, McCain’s NM finance director, pronounced the evening “great,” saying about 200 of the state’s top R’s were in attendance. The cheap seats were going for $1,000 a pop.

When we blogged the upcoming fundraiser last month, we speculated that with a shaky economy and the Republican base generally unenthusiastic, Zangara would have his work cut out for him. He seemed to think he had succeeded. KOAT-TV was reporting the take may have been as high as $400,000, with some of the money going to the state GOP. Apparently high gas and low stock prices aren’t yet hurting the GOP upper crust. At the dinner they dined on steak and shrimp.

Among those on hand at the McCain party: GOP US Senate nominee Steve Pearce, ABQ GOP US Rep. Heather Wilson, Northern GOP congressional candidate Dan East and former ABQ GOP US Rep. Manuel Lujan. Also spotted in the crowd was former Colorado GOP US Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

McCain seems to being have more luck with raising cash than some of the downticket GOP candidates.

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Obama Courts “Working Women” in ABQ, NM in Another Closed Event

Obama conducted an “invitation only” visit to ab ABQ, NM Flying Star restaurant Monday to try to shore up his image with women. Specifically, “working women.” I guess he’s interested in the demographic now. It’ll be on to senior citizens next…

I had read that some Obama supporters were miffed that this was another “closed” event…but the reports on the visit didn’t mention that. The blogger at New Mexico for Democracy (part of the DFA, Howard Dean’s organization that has been helping all along) reported that Michael Isikoff from Newsweek was there, which isn’t surprising because Newsweek HEARTS OBAMA. Where was his Newsweek colleague Eleanor Clift? The way she “analyzes” on The McLaughlin Report sounds like she is on the Obama payroll, after all. I would have thought she would have been drooling at the chance to attend this “up close and personal” event.

As reported by the New Mexico Independent:

UNM professor Christine Sierra said Monday’s event was all about Obama’s effort to reach out to women.

“Barack is definitely trying to be fast out of the gate to claim the women supporters who were adamantly for Hillary Clinton,” Sierra said. “He is doing what he needs to do.”

Obama already appears to be doing well with this group, according to a Rasmussen poll released early Monday. It showed Obama leading McCain among women by 12 percent in New Mexico. According to Rasmussen’s national tracking poll, Obama currently leads among women by the same percentage.

Lt. Gov. Diane Denish — who backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary — introduced the Illinois senator to his small audience. Denish was one of the first New Mexico superdelegates to endorse Clinton but has supported Obama since he clinched the Democratic nomination earlier this month.

“The media is making a lot of talk about angry white women,” Denish told the audience of working women. “But they’re right about one thing, we are angry. We haven’t made any progress in the last eight years.”

“We may be angry, but we’re really smart too.”

Denish has jumped on board as if nothing has happened during the primaries, of course. Bill Richardson’s wife Barbara also showed up at the event. By the way, Denish did ads for Harry Teague, now the Democratic nominee in the House raise here in CD-2. She knows him from Hobbs, where they both grew up. Teague, of course, is tight with Republican Steve Pearce because of their oil industry businesses.

And you wonder why I’m unenthusiastic about the election this fall?

DCCC Money Now in NM-CD2 for Richardson’s Guy HarryTeague…Where Were They When the Progressive Ran Last Time?? (The One Who Got 40% of the Vote, Then Was Shoved out of the Dem Primary the Race in 2008?)

Here we are in New Mexico CD-2 where money hasn’t been forthcoming to help a Democratic Congressional candidate for as long as I’ve been here. You see, you have to raise a lot of money BEFORE the DCCC will give you MORE money. A candidate who merely wins the primary on sheer guts and grassroots support isn’t rewarded…and you wonder WHY the Democrats keep morphing into “just get along” candidates who don’t make waves once they get to Washington?

Last time around, Al Kissling, a true progressive, ran an upstart campaign with little money and got nearly 40% of the vote against then-incumbent Steve Pearce. (See “Al Kissling’s Moral Victory” to see how he was so dramatically outspent.) As I reported earlier, Kissling wasn’t even given a fair chance by the Democratic poohbahs to make his case to get on the primary ballot this time. See my earlier post on this subject to see how Kissling was cut out of the process by Richardson et al.

And now, suddenly, money appears to support oil guy Teague, who buddies with Republicans…including GOP Senate candidate Steve Pearce. Teague poured in big bucks from his own pocket, yet only narrowly defeated Bill McCamley who made news by donating $47.50 to his own campaign and was outspent. Bill McCamley was no prize either, but at least he wasn’t in the pocket of big oil.

Joe Monohan reports how Teague has become a recipient of the DCCC’s largesse:

TEAGUE’S BOOST

First it was ABQ Dem congressional nominee Martin Heinrich getting a boost from the national party, now it’s southern Dem congressional hopeful Harry Teague:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced the addition of Harry Teague to its “Red to Blue” program. The Red to Blue program supports top Democratic campaigns and offers financial, communications, and strategic support…In 2006, the Red to Blue program raised nearly $22.6 million for 56 campaigns. Candidates earn a spot in the competitive program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals

The Cook political Report in D.C. now ranks the southern CD race as “lean Republican” instead of “likely Republican.” Teague faces GOP restaurant owner Ed Tinsley.

To find out why I’m not jumping for joy about all this, check out this earlier post on Teague’s Republican ties.

“Harry T. and the Chamber of Secrets” co-starring Oil and Republicans–Screenplay by Bill Richardson [Subtitle: The Behind-the-Scenes Adventures of Bill R., Harry Teague and the NM CD-02 Democratic Primary]

NM CD-02 Update: Teague’s opponent “donates $47.50 to himself”….

To contrast the money situation in NM CD-02, Bill McCamley wrote himself a donation check for $47.50 as reported in today’s Las Cruces Sun-News.

The article goes on to update Teague’s own loans to his own campaign…he’s added $475,000 in additional loans over the past week!

McCamley is no prize either, but Teague sure has loads of dough to toss around as a result of his oil-related businesses….

See my post from 4/29 on Teague for the gory details.

“Harry T. and the Chamber of Secrets” co-starring Oil and Republicans–Screenplay by Bill Richardson [Subtitle: The Behind-the-Scenes Adventures of Bill R., Harry Teague and the NM CD-02 Democratic Primary]

“Harry T. and the Chamber of Secrets” co-starring Oil and Republicans–Screenplay by Bill Richardson [Subtitle: The Behind-the-Scenes Adventures of Bill R., Harry Teague and the NM CD-02 Democratic Primary]

4/30/08 UPDATE:

Teague has loaned his campaign an additional $475,000 over the past week, according to today’s Las Cruces Sun-News.

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I got a campaign flyer from folksy-looking Harry Teague few days ago, the first to come as primary day on June 3 approaches. Teague, the subject of one of my earlier posts, is Bill Richardson’s pick for the CD-2 House seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Steve Pearce. (see earlier posts on Teague and the mowing down of our progressive hope here , here , and here.)

Howard Dean’s Democracy for America which is billed as “our nation’s largest progressive political action community” proudly proclaims Teague’s “DFA Values”:

Harry supports progressive issues like a woman’s right to choose and bringing the troops home from Iraq. As a business owner, who has to make payroll for 250 employees he understands how to make a budget, stick with it, and not waste money.

Of course, DFA omits some interesting facts…read on.

Teague was elected in 1998 as a Lea County Commissioner and served for 8 years According to Teagues campaign website:

Though the commission was controlled by Republicans, they voted him chairman for three and a half years.

That’s because in many ways, Teague acts like a Republican.

First there are his ties to Steve Pearce, the 3-term House rep. from CD-2 who is now running against Heather Wilson for Pete Domenici’s Senate seat. Like Pearce, Teague has been involved in owning a business related to oil-drilling.

Teague had long been a supporter of Pearce – giving $1,000 to Pearce’s campaign in 2004 and $2,100 in 2006 – but said the congressman’s recent votes against funding to combat meth changed that. Teague said the two had been friends for some time. Pearce was two grades ahead of Teague in grade school, and Pearce’s family is close to the family of Teague’s wife.

According to the website Beyond DeLay, Pearce (along with Domenici and Wilson) is ranked among the top 22 most corrupt members of Congress. Pearce failed to disclose the sale of his oil drilling company in 2003 to Key Energy, which violated the Ethics in Government Act.

On top of this, Pearce has been the recipient of large amounts of money from Yates Petroleum, which is the largest leaseholder in the Otera Mesa. Prior to 2000, the Bureau of Land Management held the position that only small amounts of oil and gas lay under this grassland area and was against drilling, which also holds a huge underground water resevoir. Steve Pearce has always been an advocate of drilling there. Once the Bush Administration came in, the BLM reversed its position.

The BLM turnaround coincided with the largest lease holder in the Otero Mesa, Yates Petroleum, donating over $230,000 to the GOP over the last three election cycles.

Yates Petroleum also has been the single largest donor to Rep. Pearce’s campaign committees since 2002 with $32,490 in donations. Individually, members of the Yates family have contributed $78,379.99 to Rep. Pearce since he first ran for office in 2002.

If Rep. Pearce advocated opening up Otero Mesa to drilling in exchange for campaign contributions, he may have violated the bribery statute or accepted illegal gratuities.

Teague has bankrolled his run with a $200,000 loan to his campaign. But according to Democracy for New Mexico a good chunk of the rest of Teague’s war chest which comes from outside sources–an additional $208,000–comes from Republicans.

  • the average donation was $1,300 per individual
  • Teague is backed by the same people who have donated to Pearce
    • 28 (or 18%) of Teague donors have given a total of $94,635 to Pearce
    • $45,250 (or 22%) of Teague’s contributions came from Pearce donors
  • Teague gets his money from those who give to Republicans:
    • 34 of his donors (or 22%) have given a total of $143,385 to Republicans
    • $51,800 of Teague’s contributions (or 26%) came from Republican donors
  • Teague gets his money from the oil industry:
    • 61 of his donors (or 39%) are linked to the oil industry
    • $103,470 (or 51%) of his contributions are from people linked to the oil industry
  • Teague’s money comes almost entirely from Lea County:
    • 135 (or 87%) of his donors were from Lea County
    • $172,110 (or 85%) of his contributions were from Lea County
    • Just 5 (or 3%) of Teague’s contributors were from the district outside of Lea County

As Democracy for New Mexico states, Teague entered the race with

the backing of wealthy friends in Lea County, many of them former supporters of Steve Pearce and the Republican Party. Teague is running as a Democrat, but shares many of the conservative views of politicos on the other side of the aisle. It shows in who’s donating funds to his campaign.

Teague is also is on the board of directors for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association — which, Politico.com reports, may give him additional strong fundraising connections.

Teague also boasts about his efforts to bring a nuclear waste facilty to Lea County. Back in 2004, and a NRC (National Regulatory Commission) meeting called to gather comments on behalf of Louisiana Energy Services (LES). Les LES is a partnership of major nuclear energy companies. According to ADVFN News, Partners include Urenco, Westinghouse and U.S. energy companies Duke Power, Entergy and Exelon. (Editor’s Note: Hillary Clinton’s former chief strategist, Mark Penn and his consulting firm Burson Marsteller, worked to help renew an nuclear energy icense for Exelon in NJ. But candidate Barack Obama took money directly from Exelon and rewrote a Senate nuclear safety bill to reflect changes demanded by Republicans (NY Times, February 3, 2008).

Teague brushed off opposition to the LES project:

Some Lea County residents were openly displeased with opposition to the facility. Teague said, “Those of you that are opposed to this, and you’re not from Lea County, go away and leave us alone, please.”

Some of Teague’s connections are also under scrutiny.

Former Doña Ana County Commissioner Gilbert Apodaca is actively helping Teague in the Las Cruces area. Apodaca isn’t working for the campaign, but has been brought on board as a volunteer, though he’s been given no specific duties.

Some Democrats will find Teague’s acceptance of Apodaca’s help controversial. During his tenure on the commission, Apodaca was twice accused of bribery but never charged by the FBI. He had a reputation for ruling with an iron fist and a special audit found numerous problems with the operations of county government during his tenure.

Many Democrats in the county have openly expressed their dislike for Apodaca. When the governor appointed Apodaca to the state border authority in 2004, Democratic legislators from Doña Ana County protested during a meeting with the governor. Days later, Apodaca declined the appointment.

Teague claims he didn’t know about this controversy, even though he knew Apodaca through the state association of counties during the time they were both in office.

More recently, the Albuquerque Tribune reported on February 12, 2008 that Teague is involved in a federal lawsuit in which he is accused of ignoring a sexual harassment complaint by a former employee.

Harry Teague, a leading Democratic contender for the U.S. House seat representing southern New Mexico, has been accused in a federal civil rights lawsuit of ignoring a sexual harassment complaint leveled against a top manager in one of Teague’s companies in Hobbs.

Carolina Cueto, a former secretary for ABC Rental Co., charges in the lawsuit that she was harassed at work by James Chenault, operations manager for ABC Rental and Teaco Energy Services, both owned by Teague.

Chenault is one of 11 Teaco or ABC Rental employees who have contributed the maximum $2,300 to Teague’s congressional campaign, according to federal campaign finance records.

Teague has issued a statement expressing confidence that the law suit would come to nothing because he had nothing to do with the complaint described in the suit. But there are reports that the woman involved complained in sent e-mails to Teague, which were ignored.

But attorney Joseph Zebas said Cueto sent e-mails to Teague complaining about Chenault and that Teague never responded. Zebas said Cueto also complained to Troy Teague, the candidate’s son and ABC Rental president.

So, how close are Harry Teague and Bill Richardson?

The Albuquerque Journal on April 21, 2008 detailing Richardson’s campaign debts, Richardson’s travel debts were reported to be over $226,000.

The campaign’s debts for travel included $26,362 owed to the Branch law firm in Albuquerque and $203,850 owed to Lea King LLC. Richardson used private aircraft for travel during the campaign, including one owned by the law firm affiliated with Turner Branch of Albuquerque. Lea King was organized by Hobbs businessmen Johnny Cope and Harry Teague, according to state corporation records. The corporation is the registered owner of two Cessna jet planes, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Of course, Richardson has many other interesting ties in the energy industry (which contributed to his being appointed Secretary of Energy in 1998).

When he ran for governor of NM in 2002 Sourcewatch.org reports that

“Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Richardson resigned from the following boards on July 5, [2002]. He said he left his positions on the corporate boards so he can have more time to campaign.” Richardson resigned from the boards of: American Energy Group Inc.; Energy Investors Fund Group; Diamond Offshore Company: Peregrine Systems; City National Bank; Valero Corp. Services Corp.; Venoco; Hispanic Radio Network; Intellibridge Expert Network; and TerraSolar.

Richardson was also required by New Mexico state law to make full financial disclosure on sources of income. His employer was listed as Kissinger McLarty Associates .

(Peregrine Systems, you may recall, even woke then Attorney General John Ashcroft up in September 2002.

“The indictment charges these defendants with a massive conspiracy that had at its core one corrupt goal: to hit the numbers quarter after quarter, no matter what,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “The betrayal of the public trust alleged in this indictment extended from the Chief Executive Officer who headed the scheme to the independent auditor who knowingly certified the company�s false financial statements and allegedly made the continuing fraud possible.” [Executive and Auditor of Peregrine Systems, Inc. Indicted on Securities Fraud Charges, Former Director of Alliances Pleads Guilty, Department of Justice])

Although Richardson left the boards of Valero and Diamond Offshore, he retained large stock holdings in these companies. He finally sold the stocks in 2007 during while running for President because “he was ‘getting questions’ about the propriety of these holdings, especially given his past as energy secretary, and that it had become a “distraction”. (Wikipedia cites two news stories, one from TheStreet.com and one from the AP, which are no longer available on the web.)

Valero Energy is an especially interesting part of Richardson’s past. According to the University of Massachussetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, Valero ranks number 17 in PERI’s TOXIC 100: The Top Corporate Air Polluters in the U.S. index. The company has also been sued over groundwater contamination.

Richardson continued to hold stock in Valero even as the company was an early recipient of contracts for Iraqi oil (by 2003) and was also subpoenaed in connection with the Iraq Food for Oil scandal in 2004.

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So here we have all the threads connecting Richardson to Harry Teague and Teague to Steve Pearce.

And yet, Howard Dean’s “progressive DFA” sings the praises of Teague in NM CD-02.

Is there any question that something is very rotten in the Democratic Party? Or is there even a Democratic Party anymore?