14 June 2012
Pay-to-Play With Heather Wilson
Campaign Finance Reports Reveal Tens-of-Thousands Given to Wilson
NEW MEXICO — Earlier this month, we brought you news that US Senate candidate Heather Wilson is named in a pay-to-play probe underway in the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. (To view the letters naming Heather Wilson, along with Darren White, in the AG’s investigation click here.)
That probe is believed to center on Wilson’s role in assisting an Albuquerque company, which was run by her donors, in obtaining a sole-source contract under a federal grant obtained by the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department.
Questions arose when the company, TruTouch, was given more than $700,000 in grant money to fund the research and development of light-based sensors to detect blood alcohol levels in drunk drivers. The company ultimately produced three machines purchased with state dollars, though their own tests showed the machines never worked.
Wilson has yet to say whether or not she cooperated with the Attorney General’s request to interview her about the investigation. Wilson has also not answered the question of why donations from TruTouch and its affiliated companies continued throughout her time as a United States Congresswoman.
According to a 2008 New Mexico Independent article:
TruTouch Technologies has its roots in research done at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in the early 1990s, using near-infrared light to diagnose medical conditions such as blood-sugar levels. A private company, Rio Grande Medical Technologies, was formed to commercialize the research. The company changed names in 2001 to become InLight Solutions, of which McNally was a vice president.
Over the next several years, InLight Solutions spun off new businesses using variations of the same near-infrared light technology, including Lumidigm (fingerprint scanners),VeraLight (diabetes screening) and Luminous Medical (blood-sugar monitoring).
Here are the total campaign contributions to Heather Wilson from employees, directors, and lobbyists for TruTouch-related Companies, 2002 through 2008:
When reporters began asking questions about the deal in 2008 and again in 2011, then-Sheriff White and the county purchasing agent coordinating the process both disclosed that then-Congresswoman Heather Wilson had directed them to allow the TruTouch company to assist in writing the grant application for the county. The application was written to be awarded through a competitive bid process, not mentioning that the company had been given license to write the standards for the bid process.
Now, ProgressNow New Mexico has uncovered campaign finance documents showing that officers and directors of those companies and at least three other companies associated with TruTouch gave Wilson tens-of-thousands of dollars in campaign donations all while receiving her help to direct a supposedly fair bid contract straight back to them.
See how the donations break down in the document below and click here to read our full report.