Home News Local News Chevron donates to local state rep campaigns

Chevron donates to local state rep campaigns

Daily Record File Photo New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, speaks at the Hi-Q Venue in Roswell in July 2020. Campaign finance reports show that the re-election campaigns of Townsend and three other local state representatives received $2,600 each from Chevron in the recent campaign fundraising period.

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Chevron was the largest single donor to the campaigns of Chaves County’s four state representatives in the last six months.

Reports covering fundraising and spending of campaigns for legislative and statewide political offices between April 6 and Oct. 4 were filed last week with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. Chevron, the California-based multinational energy giant, contributed $2,600 each to Roswell Republican state Reps. Candy Ezzell and Greg Nibert, as well as House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia.

State Rep. Phelps Anderson, DTS-Roswell, who caucuses as an Independent, also received a contribution in that same amount.

The oil industry has been a source of funds for New Mexico political campaigns, especially in the conservative southeastern part of the state where lawmakers hail from districts that encompass the oil-rich Permian Basin and rely on its energy reserves for jobs and budget revenue.

In 2020, Chevron gave $5,000 each to the re-election campaigns of Anderson, Ezzell, Nibert and Townsend. Records from that year indicate Chevron’s industry rivals, such as Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, also gave to the re-election bids of those same lawmakers.

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Chevron’s giving was not confined to southeastern New Mexico or to Republicans. According to last week’s reports, Chevron gave $25,000 each to the the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee as well as the Brian Egolf Speaker’s Fund — the committee named after the House Speaker which disperses resources to House Democratic campaigns across the state.

Chevron’s website says the company makes political contributions in political races in the United States and Australia, when allowed by law.

“Our objective is to support state and local candidates, political parties, political committees and measures that are aligned with Chevron’s business interests,” the website states.

House candidates

Candidates for office may not officially file their papers to run until March. Nonetheless, the recent reports show money is already being pumped into campaign war chests.

The chief Republican in the New Mexico House of Representatives, Townsend, of House District 54 — which is comprised of portions of Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties — had the largest cash haul among his local House colleagues, with $11,800 flowing into the campaign bank account. He also spent the most during the six-month reporting period, with $7,560.13 in expenditures and $65,851.06 left over.

In House District 59, which consists of parts of Chaves and Lincoln counties, Nibert added $5,650 to his campaign funds and spent $996.50. He has a balance of $69,619.90.

Anderson of House District 66, which includes Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt counties, raked in $3,100. He then spent $1,279. Reports show he ended the fundraising cycle with $2,662.15.

The longest serving member of the area’s House delegation, Ezzell, of southern Chaves County’s House District 58, took in $2,900. Her only expense during the reporting timeframe was a $1,200 contribution she made to the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee. Ezzell has $10,646.17 left in her campaign treasury.

In addition to political action committees — also known as PACs — and individuals associated with the fossil fuels industry, real estate, pharmaceutical and financial industries were sources of donations.

Among the donors listed was the New Mexico Association of Realtors, which gave the Townsend and Nibert campaigns $2,000 and $500, respectively.

Comcast Financial Agency Corporation was also listed among the donors to Townsend and Nibert. The Corporation gave $1,000 to Townsend and $200 to Nibert.

PHARMA, a medical and Pharmaceutical company, doled out $500 to the campaigns of Anderson and Townsend.

Aside from the contribution from Chevron, reports show that the only other money Ezzell’s campaign received between April and October was $300 from Anheuser-Busch.

Senate campaigns

Unlike their colleagues in the House, none of the 42 members of the New Mexico Senate will be up for reelection next year.

For some senators, such as William Burt, an Alamogordo Republican from Senate District 33, that meant a halt to fundraising and spending. According to a report filed by Burt, his campaign did not take in or spend any money since at least April. His District includes parts of Chaves, Lincoln and Otero counties.

Money continued to flow into other campaigns, such as that of state Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs. Kernan, who occupies the Senate District 42 seat that represents Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties, took in $3,650. After spending $3,902.43, she has $11,836.11 in cash on hand.

Cliff Pirtle of Roswell, a Republican from Senate District 32 — which covers Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties — received a $1,000 contribution from the campaign of former state Sen. Candace Gould, Albuquerque, but did not have any expenditures. He ended the fundraising period with a balance of $7,539.23 and $9,100 in unpaid debt, according to reports.

Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, took in $1,250 and spent $12,877.54. The veteran lawmaker from Senate District 27, which includes Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Lea, and Roosevelt counties, ended the period with $53,164.59.

Governor’s race

State Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, held a big fundraising edge over her six Republican opponents vying for their party’s nomination.

According to the reports, Dow raised $439,663; Greg Zanetti, a retired New Mexico National Guard general, received $339,103.06, of which he gave $185,135 to his own campaign.

Business owner Louie Sanchez received $139,225, including a $130,000 loan Sanchez made to his campaign.

Reports show that Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block; business owner Karen Bedonie; and Ethel Maharg, former mayor of the village of Cuba, raked in $86,162; $50,723.35 and $8,707.55 respectively.

The campaign of Republican Tim Walsh, a retired school teacher from Albuquerque who was also an advisor to former Gov. Gary Johnson, as of Monday had not posted on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.

Dow also did the most spending in the last six months, with $103,408.32, according to reports. Zanetti followed with $99,329.93, then  Block with $56,911 in expenditures; Bedonie had $28,354.80; Sanchez, $10,500; and Maharg, $7,550.96. Zanetti’s campaign did not spend any money.

Reports indicate Dow had the most cash on hand: $337,155.48. Zanetti had $239,773.13; Sanchez, $128,725; Block, $29,250.99; Bedonie, $22,368.55; and Maharg, $1,156.59.

Lujan Grisham held a huge advantage over the seven Republicans. Reports show that the first-term Democrat’s re-election campaign took in $2.5 million, and spent $554,382.98. It finished the fundraising cycle with just over $2 million in cash on hand and a $1,857.70 campaign debt.

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

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