The GOP's biggest new donor gets overdue scrutiny

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The next time a lobbyist or leader of a construction company tells you it’s too expensive to do business in New Mexico, remind them that it would be cheaper if their own insurer didn’t spend more than one hundred thousand dollars in insurance premiums on political contributions instead of giving it back to members to lower costs.

 

On Wednesday, we profiled Builders Trust PAC and how their donations to GOP-run PACs makes its way back to GOP candidates they support.  Read that story here.

 

Today, Thom Cole of the Albuquerque Journal also took at the GOP’s newest big dollar donor:

Builders Trust has donated the maximum for this year, or $4,800, to each of these Republicans in key House races: incumbents Sharon Clahchischilliage of Kirtland, Paul Pacheco of Albuquerque, Terry McMillan of Las Cruces and Vickie Perea of Belen, as well as House hopefuls Sarah Maestas Barnes and Conrad James, both of Albuquerque, Andrew “Andy” Nuñez of Hatch and Geoff Rodgers of Los Alamos. James and Nuñez are trying to win back their old House seats.

Builders Trust has also contributed the maximum $4,800 this year to at least eight other House members or candidates, including three Democratic incumbents: Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup, Dona Irwin of Deming and Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces.

The trust has donated a total of $31,200 to five Republican PACs, including Susana PAC, which was created by Gov. Martinez to help Republicans get elected to the Legislature.

Builders Trust also has contributed $10,400 each – the maximum allowed for a statewide candidate – to the re-election campaigns of Martinez and Duran…

[Home Builders Assoc. & Builders Trust CEO Jack] Malark said the money for the campaign contributions came from surplus premiums. Asked why the trust didn’t use the surplus to reduce premiums, he said that was a choice of the trustees.

Earlier this week, we profiled the network of conservative PACs funding GOP campaigns across the state. Read that story here.

 

All of our reports on GOP spending were in response to the Journal’s front-page, above-the-fold profile of PACs supporting Democrats in key legislative races this election cycle.  We were ready to respond because our right-wing watch is active every day tracking the conservatives and conservative dollars taking New Mexico down the wrong path.