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Chevron gives to legislators’ re-election campaigns

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Contributions from Chevron made up the bulk of money that the re-election campaigns of Chaves County legislators received in April and early May.

Chevron, a multinational energy corporation, and Chevron Government and Public Affairs, the corporation’s lobbying arm, directed $14,400 to the campaigns of six local legislators, according to reports filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office by the campaigns.

The reports document fundraising activity between April 7 and May 4. They had to be filed with the Secretary of State’s Office by May 11.

According to the reports, Republican State Reps. Phelps Anderson, Candy Spence Ezzell and Greg Nibert, all from Roswell, and Republican State Sens. William Burt, of Alamogordo, Gay Kernan of Hobbs and Cliff Pirtle of Roswell, each received $2,400 from Chevron.

The contributions were made despite the fact that among the recipients, only Burt and Nibert have a primary or general election opponent.

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Chevron did not give to the campaign of Democrat Kimble Lee Kearns of Capitan, Nibert’s general election opponent in House District 59, which includes portions of Chaves and Lincoln counties.

The energy producing giant also did not contribute to Burt’s Republican primary opponent Christopher Hensley of Roswell or Democrat Denise Lang-Browne of La Luz in Senate District 33.

For Burt, Ezzell, Kernan and Pirtle, the contribution from Chevron was the only money their campaigns received during the reporting period. Burt ended the period with $40,412 on hand, Ezzell with $12,107, Kernan with $16,964 and Pirtle with $30,037, according to reports.

Including the Chevron donations, Nibert raised $2,575 and Anderson $2,775.

Anderson, who is running for re-election in House District 66, which represents parts of Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt Counties, began in May with $5,252 remaining in the bank. Anderson’s other contributions included $300 from the Associated Contractors of New Mexico.

Nibert ended the reporting period with $43,902.76.

Challengers in the few contested legislative races lagged behind incumbents in fundraising.

Kearns’ campaign raised $100 and ended the reporting period with $1,719 in cash on hand.

In Senate District 33, the only money Hensley’s campaign received was $500 that the candidate gave to his own campaign, while Lang-Browne did not receive any contributions, though she ends the reporting period with $199 in the bank.

Hensley’s campaign now has a total of $535 cash on hand.

Despite their status as the top two Republicans in the New Mexico Legislature and that their respective districts include portions of the oil-rich Permian Basin, neither House Minority Leader James Townsend of Artesia or Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales were recipients of contributions from Chevron.

The single largest donor to the two candidates during the reporting period was the New Mexico Optometric Association PAC, a Rio Rancho-based political action committee, which gave $2,500 to the Ingle and Townsend campaigns, according to the reports.

Ingle’s campaign, whose other contributions included $750 from Borden Enterprises CEO Robert L. Borden Jr. of Portales, raised $3,700 and began May with $92,418 in cash on hand.

Townsend’s campaign in the same period received a total of $3,725, bringing his campaign war chest to $85,090.

Aside from the contribution from the New Mexico Optometric Association, Townsend’s campaign also received $1,000 from the Mason Cattle Company in Artesia along with a combined $225 in donations from two individual contributors.

County offices

Democrats are not fielding candidates in any of the five county offices on the ballot in Chaves County, though three of them have contested Republican primaries.

Cindy Fuller held the edge in fundraising over her Republican primary opponent Barbara Gomez in the race for Chaves County Clerk. Incumbent County Clerk Dave Kunko is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.

Fuller’s campaign led Gomez in fundraising $4,950 to $3,643. Fuller and Gomez ended the period with campaign war chests of $4,196 and $2,439 respectively.

Snowberger Management Inc. donated $500 to Fuller and Staple L Farms of Roswell gave her $400. Among Fuller’s 22 contributors were several county and state legislative officials. Ezzell donated $250, while Nibert donated $300. Anderson and Will Cavin, chair of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners, each gave Fuller $200.

Gomez’s largest donation was $1,000 from business owner Deborah Havenor of Roswell and several anonymous contributions that totaled $498.

In the primary for the County Commission District 3 seat, incumbent Jeff Bilberry of Roswell is attempting to fend off a Republican primary challenge from Randy Robertson, also of Roswell.

According to reports, Bilberry’s campaign received $3,750 in contributions and ends the period with $7,382, with much of his support coming from area agriculture producers.

Pitch Fork Livestock of Roswell gave $2,000 to Bilberry’s campaign, making them his largest donor. Staple L Farms also contributed $200 and Bilberry received $400 in anonymous contributions, according to the report.

Of the $5,920 Robertson’s campaign received during the reporting period, $2,500 came from Lola Willis, a retiree from Roswell, and $850 from Ray Willis, an oil and gas worker, listed in reports as having the same P.O. Box number as Lola Willis.

Robertson also received separate $1,000 contributions from Tadpoles Daycare in Roswell and Sue McBride, an oil and gas worker from Roswell. According to reports, Robertson ended the reporting period with $5,639 in cash on hand.

Former County Commissioner Richard Taylor and Barry Foster, a Roswell city councilor, are both competing in the Republican primary for the District 4 seat on the commission. Robert Corn, who now holds the seat, is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.

The largest contribution to Taylor’s campaign during the reporting period was $1,000 from Roswell attorney Tandy Hunt. Taylor also received $500 in contributions from oil and gas worker Rory McMinn of Lincoln, Texas, rancher David O’Connor and Scott Winn LLC of Roswell, according to the reports.

Overall, Taylor raised $3,300 and has a balance in his campaign account of $1,814.

Foster’s fundraising total for the reporting period was $950, $500 of which the candidate loaned to his own campaign. He has $694 as of the end of the reporting period.

County Treasurer Charlotte Andrade and District 2 Chaves County Commissioner T. Calder Ezzell did not have any fundraising during the reporting period.

Judicial races

Dianna Luce, district attorney for New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District and a Republican, also did not do much fundraising in her uncontested race. According to the report provided by her campaign, the only money her campaign took in during April was five cents from monthly interest on the balance of a bank account.

As of the reporting deadline, her campaign had $2,771 on hand.

The campaigns of New Mexico 5th Judicial District Judges Thomas Lilley of Division II and Jared Kallunki of Division VIII did not receive any contributions during the reporting period.

Neither Lilley nor Kallunki, both Democrats, have opponents in either the primary or general elections.

According to reports, Lilley’s campaign has $7,448 cash on hand while Kallunki, as of May 4, had not received any contributions.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com