Influence Peddling of the Current City Council

infl_peddleAs I analyzed the campaign contributions in the Claudia Ordaz race, I wondered how the makeup of the city council would change. As many of you know, I believe there is a public policy agenda being driven by a select group of individuals. I also believe that one of the byproducts of the public policy agenda has financially benefitted two prominent individuals; Paul Foster and Woody Hunt. For many years, I have been attempting to document how campaign contributions are being used to enable the public policy agenda. Not only are campaign contributions being used but also I believe there is a concerted effort to find, incubate, fund and launch political candidates to serve the policy agenda. I call this influence peddling.

With Claudia Ordaz set to take her seat at council I wanted to know what monetary connections exists between Foster and Hunt and the existing city council. In order to accomplish this I analyzed the existing office holders’ financial reports from the moment they ran for office and looked for contributions from Foster and Hunt to each of them.

Emma Acosta, Ann Morgan Lilly and Carl Robinson have held office since 2005. Cortney Niland took office in 2011. Oscar Leeser, Lily Limon and Larry Romero took office in 2013. Claudia Ordaz is scheduled to take office next month.

Because the number of elections vary by candidate and because the length each has held office and variables such as number of challengers and competing election pressures it is difficult to do a head-to-head comparative analysis between all of them. Taking the last election for each office holder also does not allow for a fair comparison because of various variables unique to each election cycle.

However, as I pondered this I realized that what I’m looking for is whether there was a pattern to who received campaign contributions and more importantly what percentage of the campaign contributions were from Foster and Hunt. I’ve been arguing that Foster and Hunt use campaign contributions to exert political pressure for their benefit. If my hypothesis is correct then a pattern should exist.

There is unfortunately another problem with how campaign contributions have changed over time. In 2005 and 2010 a PAC was used to heavily contribute in the two political races for Ann Morgan Lilly and Cortney Niland. I have already written about how Citizens for Prosperity, essentially, was created by Woody Hunt. I have also previously written about how Woody Hunt uses his investments in nonprofits to fire individuals from their jobs if he is unsatisfied by their work. Therefore, I believe that Woody Hunt has and likely exerts economic pressure to control an outcome.

Although Woody Hunt was not the only contributor the Citizens for Prosperity PAC I believe he heavily influenced the candidates that the PAC supported. To add support to this argument I would remind you that I have previously documented how the Forma Group is connected to both Hunt and the PAC. Although some of you would argue that it is unfair to total the amounts given by the PAC to candidates with those given by Hunt I would retort that it is my belief that the PAC supported the dictums of Hunt. For those reasons, I believe that for the purposes of this analysis, it is important to total the PAC monies with Hunt’s. In addition, Hunt family members also contribute to candidates and I would argue that their contributions also benefit Woody Hunt therefore I totaled their individual contributions with Hunt’s.

Here is what Foster and Hunt have contributed to all of the elected officials on city council today.

  • Paul Foster has contributed $2,750.00.
  • Woody Hunt and family have contributed $9,774.22.
  • Citizens for Prosperity contributed $210,870.18 to two candidates; Ann Morgan Lilly and Cortney Niland. The majority of the money, $183,337.70, went to Niland. Totaling Hunt’s and the PAC’s monies together gives us a total of $193,111.92 for Niland.

Now keep in mind that these figures do not include the contributions made to other candidates that are no longer in office, such as Steve Ortega.

Now let’s take a look at how much Foster and Hunt/PAC have contributed to each candidate as an average of their total campaign contributions versus the total contributions they have received over their political careers.

  • Oscar Leeser: 0% (four reports and one election cycle)
  • District 1. Ann Morgan Lilly: 16% (27 reports and five election cycles)
  • District 2. Larry E. Romero: 4% (five reports and one election cycle)
  • District 3. Emma Acosta: 1% (21 reports and six election cycles)
  • District 4. Carl L. Robinson: 2% (16 reports and five election cycles)
  • District 5. Michiel Noe: 1% (nine reports and two election cycles)
  • District 6. Claudia Ordaz: 12% (one report and one election cycle) [Her reports still have one pending for this cycle]
  • District 7. Lily Limon: 0% (four reports and one election cycle)
  • District 8. Cortney Niland: 74% (eight reports and two election cycles)

Yes, 74% of Niland’s contributions have come from Foster and Hunt.

I realize some of you are wondering about Susie Byrd, John Cook and Steve Ortega. After all, all three were intimately involved in the ballpark debacle. The city makes it difficult to analyze campaign contributions because it is basically an analog process where I have to find the individual campaign contribution report for each candidate, look through each individual page and manually add each campaign contribution. It is an extremely tedious process that takes time. However, I am just as curious as you are and I will complete and report the results to you on a future blog post.

For now, take a look at the amounts of campaign contributions by these two individuals and correlate that to important votes made by each officeholder.

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