More about the top 10 political donors

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. For an explanation, see the correction at the end of this post.

Here’s a brief rundown of the top 10 Power Players – the top 10 individual donors from New Mexico between 2011 and 2014, according to data compiled and analyzed by the Investigative News Network (INN) and New Mexico In Depth. Data was provided by the National Institute for Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics, as well as the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.

The contributions reflected in this story run from Jan. 1, 2011, through June 30 for money given to federal candidates and causes, through Oct. 4 for money given to New Mexico state-level candidates and causes, and through various dates for other states, depending on campaign finance reporting deadlines. The totals include contributions to political action committees, or PACs, at the federal level and in New Mexico.

No. 1. Barrett Toan, donated $759,546 to Democratic candidates and causes. Toan is former president and CEO of Express Scripts who retired to Santa Fe. He now serves as chairman of Sigma-Aldrich, a biotech firm. His donations include $100,000 in June with his wife, Polly O’Brien, to the Verde Voters environmental political action committee supporting Democratic state House candidates (half that donation is included in his total, along with other individual donations). In 2012, he gave $500,000 to Priorities USA, the super PAC that supported Barack Obama.

No. 2. Guy Bowers, donated $474,966 to Republican candidates and causes. Bowers is a former law enforcement officer from Ruidoso who lists that city as his address, but now lives in Las Vegas and manages his investments. He gives mostly to national efforts. Only $11,200 of his money went to New Mexico candidates: $5,200 to Gov. Susana Martinez, $5,000 to the governor’s Susana PAC and $1,000 to former Rep. Heather Wilson’s 2012 Senate race.

No. 3. Victor Jury Jr., donated $291,750 to Republican candidates and causes. Jury is president and CEO of Summit Electric Supply in Albuquerque, one of the largest privately held businesses in New Mexico, according to the Albuquerque Business Journal. In 2012, he gave $160,000 to Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, and $80,000 to American Crossroads, a Republican super PAC founded by Karl Rove.

No. 4. Martin Small, gave $197,155 to Democratic candidates and causes. The founder of Calculex, a technology company in Las Cruces, Small gave  $36,700 to the Democratic Party of New Mexico. and $36,000 to the Democratic National Committee Services Corp.

No. 5. Elise Schmidt, donated $182,400 to Democratic candidates and causes. The Santa Fe resident lists her occupation as artist and investor, and she’s married to Paul B. Schmidt, who’s No. 10 on the list. She gave $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2012. She and her husband each gave $15,200 to New Mexico Grassroots Victory Fund, a joint fundraiser for Sen. Tom Udall, in 2013. In that instance, the contributions were redistributed to Udall and other candidates. Only the candidates who ultimately received the donations are included for this and other joint fundraising committees.

No. 6. David Rigsby, gave $167,998 to Democratic candidates and causes. The owner of Embudo Valley Organics in Embudo has given $26,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $25,000 to the Patriot Majority New Mexico PAC.

No. 7. Sallie Bingham, gave $158,485 to Democratic candidates and causes. A writer who hails from Kentucky but lives in Santa Fe has donated $45,000 to Verde Voters and $33,400 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since 2012.

No. 8. Mark Veteto, gave $150,359 to Republican candidates and causes. The founder and president of Hobbs-based Me-Tex Oil and Gas gave $50,000 to the Romney Victory committee in 2012, which was redistributed to other committees. But he’s also donated heavily to New Mexico candidates including Martinez, Pearce and others.

No. 9. Robert C. Chase, gave $139,176 to Republican candidates and causes. The vice president of Mack Energy Corp. in Artesia gave $70,000 to the Romney Victory committee, which was passed along to other committees, and $25,000 to Reform New Mexico Now, a state-level PAC, in 2012. He’s donated a total of $10,000 to U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce in the two election cycles covered by this analysis.

No. 10. Paul Schmidt, gave $133,800 to Democratic candidates and causes. A Santa Fe attorney, Schmidt is married to Elise Schmidt. He donated $20,000 to the Democratic Party of New Mexico, and has donated $10,400 to Hector Baldaras’ campaign for attorney general.

Correction: The total amount of campaign contributions for New Mexico’s top 10 political contributors was incorrectly reported originally because of a data analysis error by the Investigative News Network. The totals in the updated post more accurately reflect the amount of campaign contributions by these donors in the last two election cycles. What do we mean by saying “more accurately” reflect? Why can’t we say “accurately” reflect? Our nation’s campaign finance system is complicated. The analysis originally included contributions to fundraisers held for multiple candidates and committees as well as contributions those who held the joint fundraisers passed on to candidates and committees. That means the original analysis sometimes double-counted contributions from these 10 donors. We’ve made our best effort to be accurate by removing the bulk contributions to joint fundraisers to eliminate that duplication. 

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