I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Independent groups coordinate to spend big in New Mexico
NPR yesterday ran a fascinating report on the spider web of connections between the major players in a handful of independent groups that have been spending tens of millions of dollars on election ads throughout the country—and hundreds of thousands of dollars in New Mexico.
NPR describes the independent groups as anything but independent. “It’s one big network: a Republican campaign operation, working outside the official party.” That’s a technique that the Democrats invented in 2008, but that Republicans have now mastered, with the help of the Supreme Court decision that allowed unlimited political spending, the network reported.
Here’s how Republican- and Democrat-aligned groups have been spending money in New Mexico.
Yesterday, The Independent reported that the outside spending in federal races in New Mexico was nearing $5 million through October 25 almost exclusively in the races between Jon Barela and Martin Heinrich, and between Harry Teague and Steve Pearce. Since then, spending on independent expenditures has increased to over $6 million.
American Action Network spent $275K against Heinrich; its director gave Martinez $100K
The conservative American Action Network has spent $550,000 in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District targeting incumbent freshman Martin Heinrich. The American Action Network is organized as a 501(c)4 non-profit and so does not have to disclose its donors. So far, the American Action Network has spent nearly $10 million nationwide targeting vulnerable Democrats.
The American Action Network is closely aligned with another group, American Crossroads, which has spent millions of dollars so far this year. The two conservative groups share an office suite in Washington, D.C., but the connections go deeper than that.
Billionaire B. Wayne Hughes is both the director of American Action Network a major funder of American Crossroads, a group run by George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. Hughes donated $1.5 million to American Crossroads and $100,000 to Susana Martinez.
Bob Perry gave $4.5 million to RGA; RGA gave Martinez $1.3 million and Perry and wife gave her $450K directly
Texas developer Bob Perry, of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth group, donated $7 million to American Crossroads and $4.5 million to the Republican Governor’s Association, both of which can accept unlimited donations.
Both Perry and the RGA have both been major contributors in New Mexico. Along with his wife Doylene, Perry donated $450,000 to Martinez through the latest campaign finance reports. The RGA has donated $1.25 million to Martinez’s election campaign as of the last campaign finance reports and today the Associated Press reported an additional $50,000 donation from the group to Martinez.
Carl Forti is the bridge between American Crossroads and Americans for Job Security. Forti, who was called “one of the smartest people in politics you’ve never heard of” by Karl Rove, is the political director of American Crossroads in addition to serving as a consultant to Americans for Job Security.
Americans for Job Security spent $55K against Teague
Americans for Job Security has targeted Rep. Harry Teague, spending nearly $55,000 against the incumbent freshman.
Forti founded the Black Rock Group with Michael Dubke, who was the co-founder and president of Americans for Job Security from 1997 to 2008. Dubke founded Crossroads Media in 2001 and still runs the group. This is the group that places ads for the Republican Governors Association, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican National Committee, American Crossroads, Americans for Job Security and other Republican and conservative groups.
Forti also “handles public relations and media services” for the 60 Plus Association. That group has spent nearly $9,000 on a mailer targeting Teague.
Defenders of Wildlife spent $800K attacking Pearce; DCCC spent $1 million against Barela
Groups backing Democrats have also spent significant amounts of money in New Mexico, although less than their counterparts. And it’s harder to make connections between them.
The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, for example, has spent nearly $800,000 in opposition to Steve Pearce.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent nearly $1 million in opposition to Jon Barela in the 1st Congressional District, nearly half of which came in an ad buy earlier this week. The DCCC has also spent $500,000 in opposition to Steve Pearce in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.
A group calling itself “Accountability 2010″ has spent nearly $213,000 opposing Pearce. There is little information on the group but R. Brooke Coleman is listed on the group’s FEC reports. Coleman is president of the New Fuels Alliance and has deep connections to the biofuels industry.