On Friday, a political action committee (PAC) calling itself “Nuevo Rio Grande” sent an email to delegates to the state Republican convention endorsing gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti.
Christina M. Brenner from the group wrote in a February 18, 2021, email, “New Mexicans have one real, reliable choice for governor this November: Mark Ronchetti.”
She went on to tout Ronchetti’s employment as a television weatherman and wrote, “Nuevo Rio Grande PAC has chosen to move forward, full steam, in support of Mark Ronchetti’s efforts to not only free New Mexico, but to help its people build a better tomorrow.”
Many delegates saw the email alarmed that it appeared the reputable Rio Grande Foundation (RGF) had endorsed the candidate. But “Nuevo Rio Grande” is in no way affiliated with RGF, despite it using the Foundation’s same logo, showing a river swishing through a cutout of the New Mexico state shape. But instead of the Foundation’s turquoise image, Nuevo Rio Grande PAC used the same logo in red.
As confirmed by the Piñon Post, Christina Brenner is the spouse of Patrick Brenner, who is RGF’s vice president.
“Patrick Brenner obviously works for the Foundation. He happens to support Ronchetti, which is fine, but he really stepped in it big time. And I told him in no uncertain terms if he’s going to do a PAC, he needs to brand it differently,” said Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing.
Gessing further distanced the organization from the PAC in a statement released via social media:
Recently, an email was sent out to GOP delegates to the upcoming pre-primary convention that included a logo and various branding that closely-resembled that of the Rio Grande Foundation. The group was calling itself “Nuevo Rio Grande” and its website (since removed) was at: https://nuevonewmexico.com/.
This organization was NOT affiliated with the Rio Grande Foundation and we have asked the organization to rebrand their efforts (they are in the process of doing so).