Despite Price Crash Big Oil Still Spending Big in NM Elections

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Lucas
 Herndon
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As the price of crude oil continues to struggle given the global pandemic and reduced demand and overproduction, America’s oil companies are seeking access to government programs to grant them “liquidity” during these “tough times.” They keep saying they’re not asking for a bailout, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, right? 

But wait, if times are so tough, how are these companies spending so much money to try and influence elections in places like New Mexico? Apparently, they can’t even “afford” to abide by decadeold EPA regulations, according to their own spokespeople.

National companies like Chevron and big companies in the state like Mack and Yates, along with their lobbyist lackeys, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and Power the Future, have amassed over $700,000 in the latest campaign finance reports, and we’re still a week out from early voting starting. To be clear, that’s new money since the last reports, those PACs all have other funds available as well, from previous campaigns. 

According to the most recent financial reporting documents filed with the Secretary of State, three big PACs have amassed a huge war chest aimed at pushing their industry-first policies across state government. Oh, and that doesn’t include spending from national Super PACs like Citizens for a United New Mexico which has over $70,000 on hand to spend on just ONE race.

NMOGA PAC, PAC 22, and New Mexico Strong collectively have around $720,000 on hand as of last week’s filings. A SIGNIFICANT portion of those dollars came directly from Chevron alone. If you follow the links above you can see where the oil giant has contributed to all three PACs, as well as some of the other major contributors like the Yates family of Yates Petroleum and Mack Energy, part of the Chase family portfolio. 

So what do you suppose these PACs are aiming to accomplish with all their money? If history is an indication, it’s likely that they’ll spend it trying to fund pro-oil Democrats in primary races, as well as the MOST oil-friendly Republicans they can find. Indeed, the NMOGA PAC has ONLY donated to Democrats, four of them to be exact, all of whom have recently been targeted by a progressive campaign called No Corporate Democrats 2020. 

Meanwhile, New Mexico Strong appears to be paying for the national consulting, national media buys, and branding. One vendor is the far-right compliance firm Rightside Compliance which has been used by Lindsay Graham and scores of national PACs all to the extreme right of the political spectrum. There’s also payments to a shady national media company (with no website?) called Revolution Media Group in Arlington VA, as well as a legal firm called The Gober Group that represents huge (like, literally the Houston Texans NFL team and international slushie stop 7/11) clients. Their founder, Chris Gober, hosts a right-leaning podcast and has a pinned tweet attacking New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just to give you an idea. 

Why is an oil and gas funded PAC in little old New Mexico paying for services from these titans of industry?

Why is an oil and gas funded PAC in little old New Mexico paying for services from these titans of industry? You only have to go back to 2018 to find the answer. In early 2018, before and during that year’s 30-day Legislature, Chevron spent $183,000, more than one-third of total political contributions for that reporting period. Later that year, Chevron would spend an additional $350,000 to try and defeat Stephanie Garcia Richards, the more progressive candidate for State Land Commissioner, by backing a more conservative Democratic candidate in the primary.

It’s not time to bail out the oil and gas industry. If they need “liquidity” so bad, may we suggest they stop pouring money into New Mexico politics trying to bully their way into our Roundhouse? We should all keep this in mind in the coming months as we get closer draft language around the long-awaited methane rule. We know that such a rule will create more revenue for oil and gas companies and therefore more revenue for the state, but the initial investment costs will bring out kicking and screaming from oil and gas companies.

New Mexico has suffered long enough under the delusion that we need oil and gas money but it’s more clear than ever that what we need are new, bold ideas for generating revenue in the state. 

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Alissa Barnes :: Executive Director
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Alissa Barnes is Executive Director at ProgessNow New Mexico where she leads a team that works on message development, issue and voter education, and amplification of progressive messages and values. She leads the organization in strategy development, fundraising, and organizational growth and sustainability.

Alissa’s background includes nearly 12 years at Roadrunner Food Bank where Alissa led the development and creation of multiple programs that are now national models, invested in community building and collaborations, and worked closely with elected officials, educating about hunger and why policies would either benefit or hurt clients in food lines. She has a BA from the University of New Mexico and various non-profit certifications.
  • If she followed her childhood dream, she would be a Broadway tap dancing star
  • Has seen Frozen 1 and 2 over 100 times
  • Loves heavy metal concerts
Marianna Anaya :: Deputy Director
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Marianna oversees strategic messaging and creative implementation tactics for issue-based and political campaigns. She leads the team’s digital and earned media programs, bringing a New Mexico values-based approach to her work. 

Marianna’s background includes race and ethnic studies in education as a focus at UT Austin and UCLA, political campaign work, staffing former Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as leading organizing and communications work for the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

  • She currently serves as the Board President of Emerge NM. 
  • Her hobbies include getting more women, queer folks and BIPOC elected to office.
  • She has three cuddle-worthy dogs at home
Lucas Herndon :: Energy and Policy Director
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Lucas’ focus is on all things energy and environment, election integrity projects and general messaging strategy. He is often the front facing voice for PNNM when it comes to issues surrounding methane, renewable energy, oil industry accountability, and public lands issues. 

Lucas has an extensive background in public lands and solar energy. He was instrumental in the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in 2014 and has participated in every local election since 2012 through phone banking, online organizing, and poll watching. Lucas is a lifelong resident of Las Cruces where he has served in various capacities of leadership including as President of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, District Director for the Dona Ana County Democratic Party, and attending and completing the inaugural classes of the Las Cruces Neighborhood Leadership Academy and the Las Cruces Tree Stewards. 

  • Owned a tattoo shop called Omega Tattoo & Supply 
  • Once got a chin bump “what’s up” from James Harden on an airplane when Harden saw Lucas’ beard 
  • Has a minor in Medieval and Early Modern History
Josette Arvizu :: Communications Director
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Josette Arvizu is the Communications Director at ProgressNow New Mexico where she oversees the development and implementation of systems that further the external and internal communications of the organization.

Josette’s background in marketing includes copywriting, paid media, SEO and content strategy for businesses and nonprofits, including convention and visitor bureaus from Bermuda to Anaheim. She began her career teaching writing to college students while in New Mexico State University’s MFA in creative writing program. Her previous work promoting diversity and inclusion includes coordination of writing and traditional arts workshops for Native American youth at the Tucson Indian Center.
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Jackie Aguirre :: Communications Specialist
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Jackie’s focus is on graphics and social media marketing that promote progressive issues across our state. 

Jackie’s background includes work in the Reproductive Justice space focusing on Latinx, Chicanx and Mexican-American communities.

  • She is a co-owner of a community art gallery celebrating BIPOC artists
  • She is a long-time volunteer for Planned Parenthood and works with college students to provide condoms/dental dams, menstrual products & other resources
  • She is a part of a group of women who love craft beer and hosts monthly beer shares with beer from all over the country
Edgar Cruz :: Communications Specialist
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Edgar Cruz is a Communications Specialist at ProgressNow New Mexico where he focuses on video creation and research that promotes progressive issues across our state.

Edgar has a background producing multimedia initiatives. With over five years of radio production experience, he is a movement agent who believes in exploring all avenues of media to inform and engage community.

  • Is a host of Espejos de Aztlan on KUNM
  • Is a member of Generation Justice
  • First discovered his passion for organizing as a high school student after joining the Youth Alliance in 2009