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Friday, May 30, 2008

SD 14: What is James Taylor Hiding? Fails to Submit Campaign Donation Report

PtaylorJames G. Taylor (right), the incumbent Dem State Senator in District 14, has failed to submit his latest financial report on contributions to his campaign, which was due yesterday. He'll be charged with an ethics violation and fined, a price Taylor is apparently ready to pay in order to keep his last-minute donors secret until after Tuesday's primary election. He is in violation of the Campaign Reporting Act Statue 1-19-35, page 14, "Reports and Statements; late filing penalty; failure to file." The penalty for late filing of the report due the Thursday before an election is $500 plus $50 per day for each additional working day the report is late.

This isn't the first time Taylor has failed to meet a reporting deadline. He was nine days late filing his last required contribution report, originally due on May 12th. The Secretary of State extended the deadline until the 13th, and Taylor finally turned it in on May 22. For some reason, he's having a hard time following the rules.

Taylor is facing a strong primary challenge from former Albuquerque City Councilor Eric Griego. Griego is known for his support of well-planned and integrated "smart growth" -- development done in a manner that follows common sense guidelines, favors infill and doesn't produce harmful, overbuilt sprawl. In contrast, Taylor is clearly on the side of those who believe in giving big developers taxpayer-funded "tax increment financing" to build what they were already going to build -- and doing so without asking much in return in meeting standards for planning, design, timing, job development or anything else.

So what is James Taylor trying to hide by failing to file his latest financial report on time?

Connections with SunCal, Atrisco Oil and Gas
Could it that he doesn't want to call attention to generous campaign contributions from donors associated with Sun-Cal, Atrisco Oil and Gas and others pushing for taxpayer subsidies and against meaningful regulation of their massive projects proposed for the West Side?

As reported in an article in today's Albuquerque Journal, Atrisco Oil and Gas is going so far as to host a special picnic and rally tomorrow in support of certain incumbent candidates, including Taylor, who can be expected to back their business interests without restraint. Officials from SunCal will also address the crowd:

The Atrisco heirs organization, Atrisco Oil and Gas, is holding a picnic rally Sunday for legislators they endorse in coming elections. Along with letting three legislators with primary elections Tuesday speak, the company has invited three other legislators and West Side development company SunCal Cos. to address the crowd, Atrisco President Peter Sanchez said.

The rally is being questioned on ethical grounds:

Some community groups think the event, which is allowable under state law, is too big of a mix of corporate interest and state government.

"I don't think the question is whether it's legal, it's whether it's ethical," said Gabriel Nims, executive director of 1,000 Friends of New Mexico.

Steve Allen, Common Cause New Mexico executive director, said a large corporation spending money just before an election skews the playing field in politics. "It becomes dangerously close to the influence peddling the ordinary voter is skeptical of," he said.

[Nimms added] "What's so alarming ... is that it's so blatant in working to preserve the business interests of (Atrisco and SunCal).

... SunCal recently bought 57,000 acres from the shareholders of Westland, the corporate successor to the Atrisco Land Grant, for $250 million and has plans to develop it. Atrisco contracted with a company last year to begin searching for natural gas inside the property, as well.

A story by Barbara Armijo in today's New Mexico Independent also discusses tomorrow's rally for Taylor and two other incumbents:

The intra-party battle between the incumbents and their challengers appears, in part, to revolve around how to pay for development of West Side, specifically the idea of earmarking future tax revenue to pay for roads and water and sewer lines that will help SunCal develop its planned community. That is what is called for in creating a tax increment development district whereby future gross receipts taxes are used by SunCal to help pay for roads, water and sewer lines.

That means those tax dollars won't be available to the state in the future to help fund state programs, said Eric Griego, a former Albuquerque City Councilor and deputy state economic development secretary under Gov. Bill Richardson who is running against Taylor.

"I don't believe we should be giving tax dollars away to corporations that will be building there any way," Griego said. "It's unfair to the average taxpayer. Why are taxpayers paying for new infrastructure" where most of them won't live. Griego would prefer impact fees, he said.

... Shares of Westland were sold to SunCal in 2006, but as part of the agreement for the sale, former shareholders retained certain oil and mineral rights, which Atrisco Oil and Gas oversees. Atrisco has leases for three wells from Tecton Energy Corp., a Houston-based company, for natural gas and other mineral exploration on some of the 55,000 acres it sold to SunCal.

Support the Clean Government Candidate
If you'd like to support Eric Griego's campaign challenging James Taylor, he can use all the help he can get from now through Tuesday's primary. Click here to volunteer or make a donation. Griego's not getting big dollar donations from corporate concerns seeking favors, like Taylor apparently is. Griego can definitely win this race, but he needs our support to do it. To help change the business-as-usual politics we've seen way too much of, we need to actively support honest, ethical legislastive candidates with the gumption to challenge those entrenched in special interest politics. Do it now.

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May 30, 2008 at 03:46 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Corporatism, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Sprawl Development | Permalink


I can't believe that Bill Richardson gave money to Taylor, as well as the despicable Sen. Shannon Robinson and in the pocket of piggies Rep. Dan Silva. Richardson is also supporting Harry Teague who gets all his money from the oil and gas business yet Richardson claims he's all green and for renewables. Right. Money talks.

Posted by: JJ | May 30, 2008 6:05:12 PM

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