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State Lawmakers Continue to Accept Contributions After Prohibited Period Starts: Legit?

January 3, 2013, 5:00 pm
By Sterling Fluharty

The campaign websites for the governor and several state legislators are displaying donation buttons, even though state law says they cannot “knowingly solicit a contribution for a political purpose” from January 1 through the end of the legislative session.

SFR obtained screenshots of the donate button on the Susana PAC website earlier this morning. Visitors can click on this button and enter their contact information and credit card number to contribute to the governor's campaign.

Over the course of the day, several state lawmakers eliminated the “Donate” buttons on their websites, replacing them with notices stating that donations are currently prohibited. Others, however, left them up.

The issue of donation links on campaign websites surfaced during the special session of 2011. Susana PAC and legislators were contacted by the Albuquerque Journal, asking about their donation links. Those links came down shortly thereafter, with apologies.

The word “governor” does not appear anywhere in the Susana PAC website. However, state law says neither “the Governor, or any agent on her behalf” can “knowingly solicit a contribution for a political purpose” during the prohibited period. Ken Ortiz, the spokesman for the Secretary of State's office, which oversees campaign laws, did not immediately return a call for comment.

State Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, Senate majority leader, has an ActBlue webpage, which is designed to accept credit cards. This morning, it said “Contribute Now to Re-Elect Senator Michael S. Sanchez.” By this afternoon, the webpage no longer accepted contributions.

ActBlue is a service provided to Democratic candidates. It allows them to collect campaign contributions online. Many of them favor it because donors find it user friendly. These candidates use it as an alternative to PayPal.

The website for state Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, newly-elected whip for his caucus, also included a donate link this morning to an ActBlue webpage. By later in the day, Sen. Keller's ActBlue webpage had been deactivated.

The president pro tem-elect of the state Senate, Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, has no donate button on his campaign website. The website for state Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, newly elected caucus chair, contains no solicitations for campaign contributions.

None of the recently reelected Republican leaders in the state Senate—state Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, minority floor leader; state Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque, caucus whip; and state Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, caucus chair—currently have campaign websites or solicit campaign contributions online. 

Most of the state House Democratic leaders—state Rep. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, speaker of the House; state Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, majority floor leader; and state Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, caucus chair—lack either their own campaign websites or outside sites that ask for donations. 

State Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque, newly elected whip for his caucus, has for several years used a website for his law practice and campaign. But it does not currently ask for campaign contributions.

State Rep. Don Bratton, R-Hobbs, newly elected minority floor leader in the state House, has no campaign or donation website. State Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, who recently became chair of his caucus, has a campaign website that does not ask for contributions. 

The campaign website for state Rep. Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, minority whip, linked to another webpage that asked for contributions as recently as Dec. 17. The link to this section was subsequently removed, but the separate contribution webpage still accepts credit cards.

Before noon today, the ActBlue webpage for state Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, said “Contribute Now to Georgene Louis for NM State House.” By this afternoon, her ActBlue webpage contained a “Sorry” message and a note that said “This election has ended.”

State Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales, had an ActBlue webpage this morning that accepted contributions via credit card for “John M. Sapien (NM-SD-09).” By this afternoon, his ActBlue webpage contained the exact same explanation that appeared on the Louis ActBlue webpage.

The ActBlue webpages for state Reps. Emily Kane, D-Albuquerque; Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park; Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces; Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-Los Alamos; and George Dodge, D-Santa Rosa, also stopped accepting contributions between this morning and afternoon.

The ActBlue webpage for state Sen. Benny Shendo, D-Jemez Pueblo, featured a thermometer this morning, just like the Sen. Michael Sanchez ActBlue webpage, which said “Contribute Now” and showed over $1,000 donated. By afternoon the Shendo ActBlue webpage was deactivated. 

State Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho, followed Gentry and Louis and removed the contribution link from his website within the last three weeks. By this afternoon, however, he had not yet taken down the separate webpage he uses for campaign contributions.

State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, has a campaign website that says “Donations can be made…in the form of cash, check, or credit card.” It also says “donate online” via PayPal, but there is no longer a link.

Four state legislators—state Sen. Bill B O'Neill, D-Albuquerque; state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces; state Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose; and state Rep. Doreen Gallegos, D-Las Cruces—have campaign websites that encourage donors to write first or send contributions by mail. 

State Sens. Pat Woods, R-Broadview; Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque; and Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces each still have campaign websites that accept campaign contributions via credit card.

State Reps. Jim White, R-Albuquerque, and Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, connected their campaign websites to PayPal and can still accept contributions via credit card. Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, has a Facebook app for online campaign contributions. 

Sen. William Soules, D-Las Cruces, had a campaign website that accepted contributions as recently as three weeks ago. Visitors to the website now see a message that says “This site is no longer active.”

The campaign homepage for state Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, has a “Contribute” button, but it leads to a blank section. State Rep. Jimmie Hall, R-Albuquerque, has a website with a “Contribute” link that leads to a blank webpage titled “Warning.”

As of this morning, the campaign website for state Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, was the only campaign website for a state senator that said it would not accept contributions after the election or during the session.

The campaign websites for five state representatives—Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque; Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque; Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe; Rep. Nate Cote, D-Organ; and Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho—contained similar messages this morning.

In late 2009, Mary Herrera, who was then Secretary of State, advised legislators about donation links. She wrote these links on campaign websites constitute solicitations and should be removed during the prohibited period around the time of legislative sessions.

Here are the Susana PAC screenshots; we'll add more later:

 

 

 

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