--2 New Mexico Secretary of State candidates squabble over each other's donors
       
Oct. 30, 2014

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Diana-Duran
Secretary of State Dianna Duran
State of New Mexico

On Weathermen And Super PACs

Secretary of State candidates squabble over each other's donors

April 23, 2014, 4:00 pm
By Joey Peters

 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alan Webber isn't the only politician getting hit with campaign attacks for his ties with activist Mark Rudd, who more than 40 years ago helped co-found the Weather Underground.

Today, the Republican Party of New Mexico released a statement criticizing Democratic Secretary of State candidate and current Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver for taking $500 in recent donations from Rudd. In the statement, Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican incumbent running for reelection, brought up her father and husband's service in World War II and the Vietnam War and added that she "cannot imagine a Secretary of State with ties to organizations that do not believe in the ideals of the American republic and of our democratic system."

The Weather Underground were a radical left-wing organization that formed in the early '70s after the disintegration of the original Students for a Democratic Society. They were known for using crude bombs on emptied banks and emptied government buildings, though they sent warnings before each incident. Still, an early accidental detonation in Greenwich Village resulted in the death of three Weathermen members.

Rudd, who moved to Albuquerque in the late '70s and now teaches math at a community college, left the Weather Underground early on and has long since denounced their tactics.

Toulouse Oliver's campaign, on the other hand, is drawing focus on a larger campaign contribution made to Duran from a corporation associated with a regulatory punishment from her own office in 2012. In her most recent campaign contribution report, Duran reported $7,200 in donations from Mack Energy Corporation, an oil company that two years ago was associated with a penalty that her office imposed on a Republican political action committee in December 2012. 

"Does she believe it is appropriate to solicit funds [from a donor] that has been involved in regulator actions a few years ago?" asks Alan Packman, Toulouse Oliver's campaign manager.

Two years ago, Mack Energy Corporation and Chase Oil Corporation—both companies associated with Eastern New Mexico oil man Mack Chase—together gave $180,000 to help start up Reform New Mexico Now, a super PAC run by Republican operative Jay McCleskey. Under state law, political action committees must register within 10 days of receiving contributions, but Reform reported that the contributions came on April 24—more than a month before the super PAC registered with the secretary of state's office.

Reform later said that the dates on the checks were typos, though they never disclosed copies of the checks. That summer, two Democratic Party operatives filed a formal complaint with Duran's office. Duran eventually fined the super PAC $250 for the early checks ($50 for each working day it didn't register on time), but not until two months after the general election occurred. 

Critics faulted Duran for fining Reform long after the damage in the election had already been done and for not requesting copies of the checks. Reform spent nearly $2.5 million that year in indirectly helping favored candidates in the primary and general elections.

Duran was also faulted for perceived conflicts of interest. In 2010, Duran paid $100,000 for media buys to Lincoln Strategy Group, which McCleskey worked for at the time. Duran also received $7,500 in contributions from Mack Energy that year.

Questions to Duran's office haven't yet been returned; we'll update this post if or when they respond.

As of last week's finance report, Toulouse Oliver reported raising $177,506, twice as much as Duran's $78,613.33.

 

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