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Now it’s really getting nasty

Governor Goodhair has fired back in his campaign for reelection by running ads that allege that Tony Sanchez’s bank was involved in drug-related money laundering.

The commercial focuses on $25 million in Mexican drug cartel money that flowed through Sanchez’s now-defunct Tesoro Savings and Loan in 1983 and 1984. Sanchez and Tesoro officials have maintained they did not know the money was illegal.

But Perry’s ad claims that as federal agents closed in on the money laundering ring, Tesoro transferred $9 million to a Panamanian bank.

“When given a choice of turning over drug-related funds to federal authorities, Mr. Sanchez and Tesoro instead allowed the drug money launderers to spirit the suspect funds to Panama, then a hotbed of international drug activity,” said Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan.

Sanchez claims that he and his bank did nothing wrong, and indeed a federal judge ruled in 1988 that the fund transfer which Perry’s campaign is trumpeting was perfectly legal. Furthermore,

Sanchez’s campaign also gave reporters copies of testimony from a 1987 libel case Sanchez brought against a Laredo newspaper over its reporting of the incident. A former assistant U.S. attorney, a federal drug agent and an IRS agent all testified that no Tesoro officials knew of the money laundering.

I don’t know how effective this attack ad will be. The money laundering case is fairly well known, though this is a new twist on it. Making charges about “Mexican drug lords” doesn’t seem like a good way to woo Hispanic voters to me, but what do I know? But let’s face it: This is at best a dicey time for anyone to be making the I-didn’t-know-what-was-happening-at-my-business argument regardless of its merits.

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  1. Kevin Whited says:

    I was a little surprised by this one, and find it distasteful (even though I’m generally one of those evil conservatives). It strikes me that Tesoro is a legitimate issue and I don’t have any problem with Perry bringing it back, but I think he blunts its salience by tacking on (seemingly) outrageous charges that many people will probably write off as attack advertising of no merit.

    But hey, I’m not one of those high-paid campaign consultants, so what do I know? I just play around on weblogs. 🙂

  2. I think that’s a good analysis. Sanchez’s business history is certainly fair game, and being acquitted doesn’t mean you weren’t gullible or slippery. That said, Perry’s charge seems more than a bit over-the-top to me, the sort of thing that a candidate who thinks he’s losing resorts to. It won’t surprise me at all if he gets some blowback over it.