Pearce campaign funds new groups

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Pearce campaign funds new groups

Posted on April 20, 2013

Albuquerque Journal
By Thomas Cole / Of the Journal on Wed, Apr 20, 2013

The campaign committee of Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce contributed $10,000 to GOAL Advocacy, a so-called social welfare organization recently formed to promote conservative policies, according to a report filed by the campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

The committee also reported making a $10,000 contribution to Goal WestPAC, a newly formed super PAC whose treasurer is Philip Pearce, brother of the Hobbs congressman.

People for Pearce listed the donations to GOAL Advocacy and Goal WestPAC in its financial report filed with the FEC for the period from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Jason Heffley, executive director of GOAL Advocacy and a former member of Pearce’s congressional staff, said GOAL Advocacy and Goal WestPAC are separate entities but that he is involved with both.

GOAL Advocacy is operating under the Internal Revenue Code as a tax-exempt social welfare, or 501(c)(4), organization. Such groups are increasingly being used by both Republicans and Democrats as vehicles for public policy and political advocacy.

501(c)(4)s don’t have to disclose their donors in most cases and are free of limits on contributions and election spending as long they don’t coordinate with candidates.

Heffley has said GOAL Advocacy won’t be active in elections and that the organization may release information next week on its supporters. In addition to Pearce’s campaign committee, we know that Roswell oilman Mark Murphy is a financial backer.

The congressman’s brother, Philip Pearce, filed a statement of organization for Goal WestPAC with the FEC in late January.

Pearce told the commission that the organization intends to operate as an independent expenditure-only committee, or super PAC.

Such organizations are also free of limits on contributions and election spending as long they don’t coordinate with candidates. But unlike 501(c)(4)s, super PACs must report the names of their contributors and how they spend the money.

Goal WestPAC, which has an address in College Station, Texas, hasn’t yet filed its first financial report with the FEC. Philip Pearce couldn’t be reached for comment.

The CQ Roll Call news organization first reported on the donations to GOAL Advocacy and Goal WestPAC by Congressman Pearce’s campaign committee.

Labor support
I reported April 10 on the creation of GOAL Advocacy and New Mexico Prosperity, another 501(c)(4) that was formed by Democrats.

Jon Hendry, president of the executive board of the New Mexico Federation of Labor and business agent for the New Mexico film workers local, said the federation made a donation to New Mexico Prosperity.

Hendry, reached in Washington, D.C., said he didn’t recall the amount of the contribution.

Hendry said he supports limits on campaign contributions and disclosure of all donations, but added, “If this (creating a 501(c)(4)) is the way the game is played, we’re going to play the game this way. … Until they change the rules, we’ll play by the rules.”

The Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 freed 501(c)(4)s, corporations, unions, super PACs and others to raise and spend as much as they want on elections as long as they don’t coordinate with candidates.

A leaked organizational document for New Mexico Prosperity said it planned to form a super PAC for election activities.

Donor dies
Among the campaign contributors to Susana Martinez’s successful run for governor, no individual gave more than Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, a mega-donor to the Republican Party, its candidates and conservative causes.

Perry donated $450,000 to Martinez’s campaign in 2010, and his wife gave another $100,000. The couple also contributed to the governor’s PAC.

Perry, 80, died last weekend.

He was best-known for financing the Swift Boat Veterans TV ad campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

The New York Times reported Perry gave at least $75 million in political contributions over his lifetime, including more than $18 million last year to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the organizations supporting him, including the super PAC of GOP operative Karl Rove.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column. Comment directly to Thom Cole at tcole@abqjournal.com or 505-992-6280 in Santa Fe. Go to www.abqjournal.com/letters/new to submit a letter to the editor.

— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal