GOAL WestPAC has sent mailers, put out robocalls, and plastered the Internet with ads — some in support of the candidates it’s backing and others attacking their opponents.
Though this area’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., has no official involvement with GOAL West, Pearce’s brother is the group’s treasurer. That’s raising eyebrows because the PAC is attacking candidates who aren’t often ideologically aligned with Pearce.
Here’s what you need to know about the group:
What is GOAL WestPAC?
GOAL West’s stated mission, from its website, “is to promote candidates who support common-sense solutions that create jobs and strengthen our economy.” It’s based in College Station, Texas, and its treasurer is Philip G. Pearce, Rep. Pearce’s brother.
What’s it’s history?
GOAL West spent big in 2014 to help Republicans take control of the New Mexico House of Representatives for the first time in decades. It raised nearly $600,000 during that election cycle and spent almost all of it.
That included spending $132,300 on TV ads that year, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Among the candidates GOAL West targeted was Democrat Joann Ferrary, who unsuccessfully attempted to unseat state Rep. Terry McMillan, R-Las Cruces.
Who’s funding GOAL West?
Almost all the PACs donors in 2014 were from New Mexico, though a handful were from Texas, according to OpenSecrets.org. The group’s six largest donors that year each gave $25,000 — as shown here, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org:
In the first six months of this year the PAC reported raising $45,000, most of it tied to oil and gas interests. All donations came from Southeastern New Mexico. You can see information about those donors here, courtesy of OpenSecrects.org:
Is GOAL West tied to Rep. Pearce?
The group has ties to Pearce, though Pearce and his campaign are not explicitly involved — and coordination would be illegal. The Sunlight Foundation reports that Pearce’s campaign “seeded” the group in 2013. In 2014, independent fundraising consultant Andrea Goff was doing work for Pearce’s campaign and the PAC — though she has other clients too. The PAC was run for a time by Jason Heffley, Pearce’s former congressional staffer and campaign manager.
Pearce donated $10,000 to help launch the PAC in 2013, but he later asked for it back after being criticized by Democrats. At the time, Pearce’s spokesman said the congressman withdrew his donation out of an “abundance of caution.”
Regardless, there’s a perception among some that Pearce is involved with the PAC’s work. Kasandra Gandara, one of the Las Cruces City Council candidates GOAL West is attacking, told NMPolitics.net if she’s elected she’ll be able to work with Pearce but will want to have a conversation with him about the group’s attacks.
Tom Intorcio, Pearce’s communications director, said the congressman “is not involved in GOAL West’s operations. He has and will work with all the elected officials in Southern New Mexico regardless of party. He has supported candidates against Senator Heinrich and — of course — he ran against Senator Udall, and they all work together on issues.”
How’s it spending money in Las Cruces?
In Las Cruces, GOAL West has endorsed Miguel Silva for mayor, Eli Guzman for the District 1 seat on the city council, and Richard Hall for the District 4 seat on the council. The group has sent out mailers attacking their opponents — Ken Miyagishima for mayor, Gandara for District 1 and Jack Eakman for District 4 — in addition to flooding the Internet with Silva-supporting ads through Google.
GOAL West has also been dialing Las Cruces residents’ phones, doing both polling and robocalls.
We don’t yet know how much GOAL West is spending on its efforts. The City Clerk’s Office mailed registration documents to the group on Oct. 19. Those must be returned within 10 days of the group receiving them. City ordinance requires that the group also file an initial report of fundraising and spending with the city when it returns the registration documents — which should happen early next week, right around Election Day.
GOAL West’s spending is significant enough that Miyagishima felt the need to respond to the attacks. He referred to the robocalls in an email he sent to supporters today.
Miyagishima pointed out that GOAL West’s 2015 donors are “all oil people and other wealthy individuals from the eastern part of the state.”
“I’m not sure why they think they can tell Las Crucens how to vote,” Miyagishima wrote.