Campaign finance reporting system improved by legislature

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New Mexico’s campaign finance reporting system would become more user-friendly and require more donor information under a bill headed to Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk.

House Bill 105 would require the Secretary of State to revamp the current reporting system to make it more automated and to allow people to download data directly from the system.

The Senate approved the bill unanimously Wednesday afternoon. The governor supports the bill, her spokesman said.

PPD LogoSen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said the revisions are in part a response to a KOB-TV  investigation comparing campaign contributions made by lobbyists with reporting by lawmakers.

“I think every single one of us is interested in transparency and disclosure,” he said.

New Mexico In Depth reported last fall that the current system doesn’t require details about contributions made by lobbyists, such as which of their clients actually wrote the checks.

HB105 would require lobbyists to report who wrote the check for a campaign contribution. Because those contributions are typically reported ahead of lawmaker reports, the measure would create a notification for legislators and allow them to automatically add the contributions to their reports.

It also would create a database of standardized names and information about frequent contributors. It would prevent lobbyists from reporting cumulative expenses, requiring detailed reporting for any expense of more than $75.

And it would allow downloads of the data, which the office began offering to some extent in January.

But the measure doesn’t give the Secretary of State’s office any extra money to implement the system. The House stripped almost $1 million from the original bill because of budget difficulties the state faces.

Some lawmakers questioned if the system can be implemented with no extra money.

“There’s going to be some creativity with how they implement that,” Ivey-Soto said.

While Ivey-Soto repeatedly commended the KOB reports, Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, criticized the reports.

Ingle said the reports focused on reports filed by lawmakers when it was lobbyist reports that caused the conflicts.

“The story, as usual, comes out one way and the retraction comes out another, which is usually nothing,” Ingle said. “Some of the things that were said were totally incorrect and totally wrong, and they caused a tremendous amount of work for some of our treasurers but there was no fault found. None at all.”

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