SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Labor unions are pouring money into a Democratic-leaning political group that raised $386,000 in the past month and can spend unlimited amounts in New Mexico races that will determine whether Democrats retain majorities in the Legislature.
The political action committee Patriot Majority New Mexico had $779,654 on hand as of last week, according to a report filed with the secretary of state’s office.
The group was formed in August to make independent campaign expenditures in New Mexico and provides Democrats with a political organization to counter Reform New Mexico Now, a super PAC established by allies of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to target legislative races.
Tuesday was the filing deadline for disclosure reports by political committees and state office candidates.
About 90 percent of Patriot Majority’s [auth] funding since last month has come from union political committees. A PAC of the National Education Association, a teacher’s union, contributed $299,500 in September, bringing its cumulative donations to $349,000. A Communications Workers of America PAC gave $25,000. The union represents some state workers in New Mexico.
A PAC of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters contributed $20,000, and more money is on the way. The union’s PAC filed a separate disclosure report showing it gave $180,000 to Patriot Majority on Sept. 28.
Since it was formed, Patriot Majority has spent only $162 on bank fees and other expenses. No direct spending on campaigns has been reported so far.
The latest finance reports cover fundraising from Sept. 4 through Oct. 1. Contributions that arrive after the cutoff will be disclosed on the next report, which is due shortly before the November general election.
Independent expenditure groups aren’t subject to New Mexico’s campaign contribution limits and their spending cannot be coordinated with a candidate. Typically, the PACs send out mailings for or against candidates and run TV or radio advertisements.
Reform New Mexico Now raised $85,250 and spent $277,421 in the past month, with much of that for mailings and polling. It has a cash balance of $112,859 for the final stretch of the campaign season. Its top contributor was a national GOP group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, which gave $85,000 last month and previously has donated $250,000.
The group, which is run by the governor’s political adviser, is focusing on two dozen legislative races, including an effort to defeat Senate Majority Leader Tim Jennings, a Roswell Democrat.
Jennings spent nearly $135,000 in the past month on his re-election bid, including for TV and radio ads. Jennings has raised about $203,000 for his campaign since last year, with about half of that in the past month, according to disclosure reports.
His Republican challenger, Cliff Pirtle, spent about $7,400 last month and has raised about $35,800 for his primary and general election campaigns.
A political committee established by the governor, Susana PAC, spent $55,050 in the past month, raised $12,845 and reported cash-on-hand of $63,003. The group is subject to contribution limits, unlike a committee that makes independent expenditures. It donated $4,250 to five GOP candidates, four running for the Legislature and the district attorney in Las Cruces.