Politically-Connected Albuquerque Bar Receives Federal Stimulus Funds

(Albuquerque) – An Albuquerque bar favored by U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich and other Democrats has received $480,000 in federal stimulus money. O’Niell’s Irish Pub, located in the Nob Hill area, received the money through a Small Business Administration program that makes loans to businesses unable to obtain financing in the private credit market.

Research conducted by The Rio Grande Foundation shows O’Niell’s Irish Pub to be a friendly venue for Heinrich. The bar hosted a birthday party for Heinrich on October 14, 2008. The event doubled as a political fundraiser for Heinrich’s campaign to represent the Albuquerque area in Congress. Federal Election Commission records show that Robert S. O’Niell, gave Heinrich $250 at about this time, bringing his total contributions to Heinrich to over $1,000. O’Niell owns the bar’s liquor license through a corporation named RSO Properties.

Heinrich’s campaign office was located in a nearby building owned by Nob Hill Development Corporation. That business entity, according to a June 27, 2008, report published by The New Mexico Business Weekly, also holds an ownership interest in O’Niell’s Irish Pub.

O’Niell’s Irish Pub has hosted events raising funds for other Democratic politicians, including a September 28, 2008, gathering to raise funds for State Senator Tim Eichenberg. O’Niell’s feted Democrats celebrating the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It also hosted a celebration of the re-election of State Senator Cisco McSorley. Heinrich managed McSorley’s unsuccessful 2002 race for State Land Commissioner.

Information on this and other disbursements of federal stimulus money can be found on the federal government’s www.recovery.govwebsite. Unfortunately, details about the award are limited to the following description “to aid small businesses which are unable to obtain financing in the private credit marketplace.”

Update: Steve Haro, Rep. Heinrich’s chief of staff, states that Heinrich’s office had no communications with the Small Business Administration regarding O’Niell’s Irish Pub and that the bar did not request Rep. Heinrich’s assistance in obtaining the loan.  Haro said Heinrich’s office has no record of any correspondence, e-mails or telephone calls on the subject.