Monday, January 25, 2016

Mary's Money: Gonzalez PAC'in in the $$$

State Rep Mary Gonzalez has more special interest and out of town money than any of the other candidates for any office in El Paso for the March primary. Here is a link to her campaign finance report. 

And the Lion's share of it (no pun intended) is out of town money. And Gonzalez raised almost no money from within her district. Only about 1/10 of her money is from El Paso County, about $13,200, and far less is from the district.

Actually only 4 contributions were made from people who actually live in the confines of HD 75 and those amount total less than $2000 combined.

In fact, one of the 4 people who contributed that actually lives in HD 75 is her father - a Republican.

She also apparently is following the footsteps of her predecessor and current challenger, former State Rep Chente Quintanilla is having a very questionable expenditure for Cattleman's Steakhouse listed on her campaign finance report. I'll get to that later.

Rep Gonzalez raised $84,470.28 in the last reporting session. That's not counting a pledge of $30,000 from Annie's list.

But the more consequential issue is how much money Gonzalez has received from special interest groups. In fact, its astounding.

A conservative tally of the money Gonzalez received on this campaign finance report alone shows that approximately $46,460 came from special interests or individuals tied to special interest groups.

In total there are 29 different political action committees (PACs) that have donated to Gonzalez on this report alone (not counting money she got from political campaigns of other candidates). The amount of money she received from PACs is probably actually a little higher than the $46K I just wrote if you factor in the individuals who donated that are connected to a PAC. I also didn't count all the money from attorneys and law firms that were listed that no doubt work with, for, or behalf of special interests.

Gonzalez will no-doubt attempt to explain away all the special interests by pointing out that some are teachers unions, law enforcement, or environmental PACs.

But the reality is that those contributions make up a pretty small amount of her special interest money.

A big portion of her money comes from various consultants and some PACs that are related to energy companies, which really deserves some scrutiny when you consider that there are three major energy issues dealing with her district.

The energy-related issues in HD 75 are an El Paso Electric power plant that was put in Montana Vista despite wide-spread opposition from residents, a natural gas pipeline that would go through San Elizario, which is also facing wide-spread opposition from residents, and a potential rate increase by El Paso Electric.

According to the latest filings, Gonzalez received at least $3,610 from the energy industry. Again that is a conservative estimate based only on the donations that have an obvious connection to the energy industry. Its harder to track donations from individuals without more knowledge of who they are and what company they work for.

Here's the take-away - regular everyday people don't contribute to Mary Gonzalez. Most of the people that do contribute to her are attorneys or part of a special interest group from outside El Paso.

Where The Money Goes

First thing you need to understand is that state legislators can use campaign money for a lot of stuff that you wouldn't think is legal, but it is. They can basically live of it and I've heard stories of all kinds of stuff that campaign money was used for by various state reps-everything from a legislator paying for a staffers car payments to avoid repossession of the staffers vehicle to extravagant trips and bar tabs.

One interesting expenditure Rep Gonzalez's reports is payments to her office staff. Two of her staffers and a former staffer received money that was reported on Gonzalez's campaign finance report.

Her former staffer received two payments of $50 each for a gas stipend.

Her current staffer for the local office Joshua Carter received two payments that were about two weeks apart from one another, presumably for compensation for campaign work.

In a somewhat ironic twist, Rep Gonzalez also has a campaign expenditure for meals at the famous Cattleman's Steakhouse. The irony of the expenditure is that her now-opponent former State Rep Chente Quintanilla reported an expenditure for the same place four years ago when he was running for El Paso County Commissioner. 

He reported that it was a meal for campaign volunteers. But a social media post showed his family
eating at the restaurant on the day that the expenditure was reported, celebrating the birthday of his wife. That became a campaign issue and ended up in a piece of mail from his opponent. 

As you can see in this part of Gonzalez's campaign finance report she indicates that she took some people to the expensive restaurant to discuss, of all things, the Montana Vista Wastewater Project. 

There were some people in town from the state around that time, but they left on the 17th of August so it wasn't state folks that she took to Cattleman's. 

Coincidentally the day before was the start of her annual staff retreat. Its typically held of a few days and Rep Gonzalez uses the time for staff development. Here's a couple of screen shots that show her staff in town for the retreat and another screen shot has Gonzalez's mention of her retreat with staff. 

Who knows, maybe it was a meeting with her staff about Montana Vista's waste-water. 

Also of note, this screen shot. It shows how much Rep Gonzalez paid to have her now-famous coloring book printed. 

What's Missing?

That is really interesting is what is missing from the campaign finance report.

It appears the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo did not make a contribution to her campaign. Rep Gonzalez has an office on Tigua land, but did not get a contribution from the pueblo.

She did get a sizable donation from the Alabama Coushatta, Texas' other tribe that is currently looking to make gambling legal as well, but nothing from the Tiguas.

1 comment:

henry acosta said...

once you you get made it's like a license to steal.