It is hard to find even a bottle of water in the state Capitol that hasn’t been paid for by some special interest group. But that could change. At the very least, New Mexicans could get a much better idea of what all those groups are lobbying for at the state Capitol. The state House of Representatives voted 62-0 Sunday night to pass a bill that would ban lobbyists from making any expenditures on legislators while they are in session. House Bill 131, which now goes to the state Senate, was originally written to require lobbyists to report which pieces of legislation they worked on during a session, potentially expanding the public’s insight into dealmaking and conflicts of interest at the Capitol.
Lobbyists and their employers spent $236,828 on gifts, wining and dining for elected officials, their guests and staff during the 2016 legislative session. And that’s only a portion of what was spent during the 30-day session because it captures only those times lobbyists spent $500 or more on a single event.
We’ll know more about how entertained lawmakers were during the 30-day session when lobbyists and employers make their full reports on May 1. If Gov. Susana Martinez signs House Bill 105, lobbyists will have to file reports again in October. Right now lobbyists file full reports only in January and May. Last year, during a session twice as long, lobbyists reported spending nearly $300,000 during the session.
While ethics reform was on everyone’s mind when the 2016 Legislative Session began, the increased attention didn’t mean increased success in passing ethics bills. There were some small successes. The House will archive proceedings and a bill to streamline campaign finance reporting is on Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk. But the real ethics news was the crown jewel of ethics legislation—an independent ethics commission—once again failed after heading over to the Senate. And a bill to shine the light on so-called “dark money” failed on the House side.
Lobbyists and their employers spent some $818,000 on meals, receptions and gifts for lawmakers and other New Mexico officials in 2015. Individual lobbyists – 148 of them – spent more $474,000, while 23 businesses spent more than $344,000, reports show. The overall total includes a rarity in New Mexico campaign finance reporting — the money a big New Mexico corporation spent on lobbying services last year. In a report filed Friday, Yates Petroleum Corp. reported paying former state Sen. Kent Cravens nearly $90,000 for lobbying services.
By Sandra Fish | New Mexico In Depth
Lobbyists and organizations feted New Mexico legislators and other officials with more than $519,000 worth of food, drink and gifts from Jan. 15 through the end of April. Of the 600 lobbyists registered with the Secretary of State’s office to represent more than 750 clients, only 116 spent money during the session. Those individual lobbyists spent $334,419 on events such as the 100th Bill Party, electric toothbrushes, teddy bears, gift certificates and, in one instance, ammunition for concealed carry training. And 14 companies spent $184,685.
Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed two pieces of legislation but signed 24 more on Tuesday as the deadline to make a decision nears. Martinez vetoed legislation that would reduce time on probation for those with good behavior. The legislation passed both chambers unanimously. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, told New Mexico Political Report last week he hoped Martinez would sign the legislation, part of the criminal justice reform slate. “The point is to alleviate the stress of the probation department,” Maestas said at the time.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]THE COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization. [/box]
A new poll of New Mexico business leaders released today shows serious concern about the lack of transparency in New Mexico’s government and campaign finance system. The poll shows overwhelming support for reform amid worries from the business community about the lopsided influence of political donors compared to every day voters. The poll was commissioned by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED), a nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization, and conducted by Research & Polling, Inc.
A sample of 307 New Mexico business leaders was interviewed by telephone. All interviews were conducted between February 2nd, 2015 and February 18th, 2015. The statewide sample of business leaders included the board members of 11 Chambers of Commerce throughout the state, the largest private sector employers in New Mexico, the largest employers within various business sectors, Albuquerque Economic Forum members, Albuquerque Economic Development (AED) members, and members of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Association (MVEDA).