Nearly half the total of $1.1 million in campaign contributions from lobbyists and their employers to New Mexico politicians and political action committees in 2015 came after Oct. 5, 2015.
That’s the last date candidates and PACS had to report contributions in 2015. So the lobbyist and employer reporting paints a picture of donations leading up to the 30-day 2016 legislative session that started Tuesday.
About $450,000 in contributions were directly reported by companies that filed reports with the Secretary of State’s office because they are employers of lobbyists. Another $702,000 was reported by individual lobbyists, though many of the checks were written by businesses they represent.
House Republicans were the top beneficiaries of lobbyist largesse, followed by Senate Democrats.
New Mexico In Depth reported last fall that contributions from lobbyists helped Republicans win the state House for the first time in 60 years. Lobbyists donated more than $427,000 to House Republican candidates in 2013 and through the Nov. 4, 2014, election. The amount contributed in 2015 from employers is about $130,000 more than donations made by employers in 2013.
With nearly $360,000 already, the House GOP appears set to top the 2014 cycle total.
Here’s a look at total 2015 donations from lobbyists plus employers to elected officials in the House and the Senate, or PACs:
The top donor, Devon Energy gave $158,000 to 20 candidates or PACs, all of them Republican. Devon is a natural gas and oil production company based in Oklahoma City.
Lobbyist Jack Milarch Jr. gave $105,000 on behalf of Builders Trust of New Mexico, which provides workers compensation insurance to members of the New Mexico Home Builders Association. Of that, $100,000 went to 19 Republican lawmakers or PACs and $5,000 went to six Democratic lawmakers.
Gov. Susana Martinez on Wednesday asked lawmakers to consider legislation that would reduce workers compensation benefits if an injured worker was intoxicated when an accident happened. House Bill 63, which would carry out that effort, is sponsored by Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan.
Here’s a look at the top 20 donors to lawmakers and political committees in 2015:
House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, was the top recipient with $72,250 in contributions from more than 50 lobbyists and employers.
House Speaker Don Tripp, R-Socorro, received $63,395 from more than 50 lobbyists and employers, while his leadership fund received $39,899 from 14 lobbyists and employers.
Here’s a look at the top 20 recipients of 2015 donations from lobbyists and employers:
Gov. Susana Martinez’s Susana PAC received $18,750 from lobbyists or their employers, while the governor’s inaugural committee received $12,500 and her campaign account received $3,500. Martinez is term-limited.
Also among the top recipients is Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, who is term-limited in his current office. Sanchez presides over the state Senate and, if necessary, provides the tie-breaking vote there. He received more than $18,000 from lobbyists and companies that lobby in 2015.
“Why are you still taking contributions for a race that was two or four years ago?” asked Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, who then answered her own question: “They can take their war chest with them to other things. If the lieutenant governor runs for governor in a couple of years as most people think, he’ll just take that money with him.”