June 6, 2016

Secretive PAC drops attack mailer on eve of primary

A new political action committee of unknown origins inserted itself into a hotly-contested Bernalillo County Commission race with a decidedly nasty mailer the day before the primary election.

iStock_000016240757_FullThe mailer, from a PAC called “Committee for the Truth District #2,” aggressively attacks candidates Adrián Pedroza and Steven Michael Quezada while ending with the phrase, “MAY THE LORD GUIDE YOUR VOTE!!!”

Pedroza and Quezada are vying, along with Robert Chavez, in this week’s primary for the Democratic Party nomination for the seat currently held by Art De La Cruz, who is term-limited and cannot run again.

It’s unclear who is behind “Committee for the Truth District #2.” The mailer lists John Davis as treasurer.

NM Political Report is choosing to not run pictures of the mailer because of at least two demonstrably false claims written on it, which we will not publish here.

When NM Political Report called the phone number that the PAC left with the business that printed the mailer, a person on the other line said, “Wrong number,” and quickly hung up. The committee is not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office, which PACs are required to do if they spend more than $500 on political activities.

Neri Holguin, Pedroza’s campaign manager, said she’s received enough calls and texts from people who received the mailer to believe the PAC spent more than $500.

“They’re violating campaign law because they’re not registered with the Secretary of State,” Holguin said.

Perhaps the nastiest claim in the mailer is that Quezada “beats women in front of children.” It cites a domestic violence incident from 1999 that NM Political Report was unable to locate before press time. The case number listed brought up no case on the New Mexico courts website.

Quezada, however, called the allegation slanderous and defamatory and insists he was the victim during the 1999 case mentioned.

“Somebody is going to be sued for this,” he said. “I’m not going to sit around and let politics lie.”

The incident, according to Quezada, involved him getting beat up in front of kids by an ex-girlfriend and her mother.

After a night of drinking, Quezada said an argument led to the mother holding him as the ex-girlfriend beat him with objects like a knife block. Quezada said he then left and collapsed on Isleta Blvd., where a cop stopped and saw him.

“I was lucky someone found me on Isleta and wasn’t found dead,” Quezada said. “It was so long ago for me, and such a horrible memory for me.”

The mailer also brings up previous DWIs that Quezada had, which he addressed in a Facebook video earlier in the campaign after he said someone attempted to blackmailed him over the arrests.

The mailer’s attacks against Pedroza are similar to that of another PAC that’s been targeting him. They include Pedroza’s 1997 disorderly conduct citation at the Coronado Shopping Center, his 2005 arrest for refusing to obey a police officer while tailgating at a University of New Mexico football game (the charge was dismissed) and not being originally from the district he’s seeking to represent.

Pedroza already addressed all of the attacks on his website.

New Mexicans for New Mexico, the other PAC that’s been targeting Pedroza, is backed by lawyers and developers tied to the controversial Santolina development, a proposed planned community on Albuquerque’s West Side that would house up to 90,000 people. Pedroza is the most vocally opposed candidate to the Santolina, which has applied for 80 different subsidies with the county.

In a Facebook post, Pedroza’s campaign says they’re “certain Santolina developers are behind” the new PAC, though NM Political Report has been unable to establish a connection. A call and voicemail to Donna Madrid-Taylor, the treasurer for New Mexicans for New Mexico, went unreturned.

Tom Garrity, who owns a high profile public relations firm and serves as spokesman for the Santolina Working Group, directed questions to New Mexicans for New Mexico.

Chavez, who wasn’t attacked by Committee for the Truth District #2 and has drawn support from New Mexicans for New Mexico, said he hasn’t seen the latest mailer.

“I don’t know anything about those guys,” Chavez said of the PACs. “I have no idea what they’re doing.”