Republican Lawyer Says Party Operative Paid Cargo’s $20 Registration Fee in 2004
Cargo Calls it the “Magical Invoice;” Denounces GOP’s “Sleazy Tactics”
Photos by Mark Bralley
By Dennis Domrzalski
Dave Cargo calls it the “magical invoice.”
The former New Mexico governor—the man at the center of the vote-buying allegations at the recent state Republican Party Bernalillo County ward conventions—was accused today of being a hypocrite for denouncing the fact that U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R-NM) senate campaign paid the registration fees of five people to attend the recent county ward conventions where delegates to the party's March 15 nominating convention were elected.
The accusation from Republican lawyer Pat Rogers—who in the past has been the party’s legal counsel—came in the form of an invoice. During the taping of the Eye on
Melvin’s invoice was dated today (
Cargo called the invoice a “lie,” and said several times that he had paid his own registration fee in 2004. In fact, Cargo said he pays his party’s dues six months at a time, in advance, and that for the Feb. 17 convention, he paid the $30 registration fee twice.
After the taping, Cargo was livid.
“I have never gotten anything from them. I have always paid my registration fees,” Cargo said. “They suddenly show up with an invoice from four years ago. It makes no sense. I’ve seen Lou hundreds of times in the past four years and she’s never mentioned this. These are just sleazy tactics. This is a magical invoice.”
I called Melvin at the state GOP’s party headquarters to ask why she decided to invoice Cargo four years later and on the day that the party’s former legal counsel was to tape the Eye on New Mexico show. The receptionist asked who was calling, and I identified myself. I was put on hold, and after a few moments, party executive director Adam Feldman came on the line.
“Nobody at the party is going to talk about this (vote-buying issue) anymore,” Feldman said. “We’re done with it.”
The accusation against Cargo appears to be part of the party’s tactics in the vote-buying scandal. And those tactics are to smear and discredit Dave Cargo. For it was Cargo, who served as governor from 1967 to 1971, who went to the news media with allegations of vote buying at the March 16 and 17 Bernalillo County Pre-primary conventions.
Cargo took his allegations to KKOB Radio (the TV and radio stations are separately owned and have no connection to each other) afternoon drive-time news anchor Laura MacCallum. Cargo said that at least two campaigns—Wilson’s and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White’s, who is running for congress in the First Congressional District—paid people to attend the 31st Ward convention and vote for a list of candidates.
The former governor said that paying for votes is a fourth-degree felony under
Why is it wrong to pay people to show up to vote for delegates to the party’s nominating convention?
“Because we’re selecting nominees for congress and the U.S. Senate,” Cargo said. “I don’t think you should have vote buying for those offices.”
MacCallum ran the stories for two days before KKOB News Director Pat Allen pulled them last Thursday. After getting an e-mail from Allen in which he said the stories were being pulled because bloggers hadn’t picked them up, MacCallum resigned.
The GOP’s smear tactics against Cargo didn’t stop with the “magical invoice.” Rogers, who along with Cargo, is active in the Foundation for Open Government, brought up a subject that Cargo says amounts to “high treason” in the Republican Party.
It’s true. Cargo attended Hillary Clinton’s recent book signing and actually dared to shake hands with Bill Clinton. Nicole Brady (Eye on
And, as Cargo said, “I’ve had my picture taken with lots of presidents. I like to know what the other side is saying. I didn’t realize it was fourth-degree felony. I guess I should just be uninformed.”
Cargo, who has been no stranger to controversy since he got to New Mexico in 1956, accused
And on Melvin’s apparent refusal to take my call and Feldman’s assertion that the New Mexico Republican Party will no longer comment on the vote-buying scandal, Cargo added:
“They just don’t want to clarify the lie.”