Oil and gas industry revenues pay a huge share of the money that goes into the state budget. And lobbyists for big oil companies pay a huge amount of campaign contributions to New Mexico politicians. An analysis of lobbyist expense reports filed in recent days with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office shows oil companies dominate the list of the largest donors to campaigns and political committees since last October. By far the biggest contributor among lobbyists in the new batch of reports was the Austin, Texas-based Stephen Perry, Chevron USA’s state government affairs manager for Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Perry listed $183,250 in contributions.
There’s plenty of imperfection and discrepancy when it comes to trying to figure out campaign finance data in New Mexico. A year ago, New Mexico In Depth reported how lobbyist contributions helped Republicans win the state House for the first time in 60 years. But NMID also pointed out that candidates don’t always report those contributions consistently. KOB-TV did a series outlining such discrepancies in campaign contribution reports by legislative leaders last November. The Secretary of State’s office clarified reporting requirements for lobbyists, and the Legislature passed a law aimed at improving reporting.
Lobbyists may end up reporting far less of their spending on lawmakers under a bill lauded for improving the state’s campaign finance system. House Bill 105, signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez on Monday, aims to make it easier for the public to access information about campaign contributions and lobbyists’ reporting. But the bill also ends a requirement that lobbyists report cumulative spending on lawmakers, and increases the limit for reporting from $75 to $100 per event. The original legislation struck the cumulative total requirement. The House Government, Elections & Indian Affairs Committee increased the reporting limit, a change that made it through two more committees as well as the full House of Representatives and Senate.