More PACs reported donating to lawmakers during special session

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New Mexico bans lobbyists or their employers from giving money to lawmakers or candidates running for legislative seats anytime the Legislature is in session.

But it isn’t clear from a review of reports filed by legislators, candidates and political action committees covering the Sept. 30-Oct. 6 special session if everyone understands the law or even remembers it is on the books.

In addition, a lack of standard reporting requirements and spotty or sloppy entries appear to make it difficult to know when and if a violation has occurred.

For instance, the Realtors Association of New Mexico, El Paso Electric Co. and others reported donating a total of $58,700 to legislative candidates and affiliated PACs during the special legislative session.

That’s based on New Mexico In Depth’s review of reports filed with the Secretary of State in October, November and last week.

But when contacted by NMID, representatives of the Realtors Association and El Paso Electric said they didn’t make the contributions during the session.

Steven Anaya, CEO and lobbyist for the association, said the dates listed on the report by the association’s PAC showing $17,350 to 27 candidates on Oct. 4 were the date the checks were written, not when they were given to candidates. Those checks weren’t given until the session was over, he said.

“I can guarantee that we didn’t give while they were in session,” Anaya said. “Either they were given before or after. We’re pretty careful about that.”

However, four lawmakers reported receiving the contributions on Oct. 4 in their campaign finance reports. It isn’t illegal for lawmakers to receive money during a session, but they cannot solicit it. Anaya said that might be because that was the date on the check.

Other candidates reported receiving the money from the Realtors Association between Oct. 11 and Nov. 22.

The Secretary of State’s office received several complaints about lawmakers continuing to display donation buttons on websites, but didn’t find any violations, said Kari Fresquez, elections director for the office.

But no one has filed a complaint about lobbyists or their employers donating during the special session with her agency, which only investigates potential violations once a complaint is filed, Fresquez said.

The El Paso Electric Co. Employee PAC reported in a November report donating $12,600 to 17 candidates on Oct. 4, but that was a mistake, a representative for the organization said.

“After reviewing the report, an inadvertent clerical error on the date reported was identified,” Ricardo Gonzales, the company’s lobbyist, wrote in an email after being contacted by NMID. “We are currently amending the PAC report to reflect the correct dates. It is important to note there were no contributions made during the 2016 special session and we are working to amend the report to reflect the correct information.”

The New Mexico Petroleum Marketing Association PAC, meanwhile, reported contributing $1,000 to then-GOP senatorial candidate, Candace Gould on Oct. 5. Gould, who won her Albuquerque contest, is the wife of Leland Gould, the president of the association as well as a lobbyist for Western Refining of El Paso.

Ruben Baca, the association lobbyist, said he wasn’t in New Mexico during the special session. Gould reported receiving it Oct. 6, which was a Thursday and the last day of the special session.

“I didn’t give it to her until the weekend,” Baca said.

Here’s a look at PAC donations to candidates during the special session as reported by the organizations:

In other instances, it appears other PACs may have erred in reporting the dates of donations. For instance, two candidates who received contributions from the Committee on Individual Responsibility, a trial lawyers PAC, reported receiving them in late September before the session, not on Oct. 1 as reported by COIR.

PACs, meanwhile, reported making contributions to five lawmakers during the special session that were  not reported in the legislators’ campaign finance reports.

One of those lawmakers, Sen. John Sapien, D-Corrales, said he didn’t receive a contribution from an insurance PAC that reported donating to him. He said the check would have caught his attention since he works in the insurance industry.

Another, Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque, said she didn’t receive a check from a union that reported donating to her.

This is not the first time New Mexico In Depth has reported on the timing of contributions to lawmakers or legislative candidates.

NMID reported in October that the American Federation of Teachers of New Mexico donated $3,900 to 18 lawmakers or legislative candidates on Oct. 3. Those contributions were found on the organization’s Oct. 11 report to the Secretary of State, which covered the period from Sept. 6 through Oct. 3, including the first four days of the session – Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

AFT President Stephanie Ly, a registered lobbyist, told NMID at the time the teachers union typically sends out campaign donation checks at the first of the month. She said she didn’t believe the contributions were a violation of the law.

Here’s a look at all the contributions given by PACs that employ lobbyists between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6:

PAC NameAmountDate ContributionCandidate or PACDate reported by candidate or PAC
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Patti Lundstrom10/18/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education50010/3/16Willie Madrid10/3/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Eliseo Alcon10/8/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Nick Salazar10/2/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Debbie Rodella10/20/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Bobby Gonzales10/11/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Jim Trujillo10/11/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. John Pinto10/2/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Carl Trujillo10/18/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. Doreen Gallegos10/12/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Rep. George Dodgenot reported
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. Howie Morales10/20/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. John Arthur Smith10/7/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. Joseph Cervantes11/7/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. Peter Wirth10/3/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. Benny Shendo10/11/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. Pete Campos10/7/16
AFT New Mexico Committee on Political Education20010/3/16Sen. Richard Martinez10/7/16
Committee on Individual Responsibility540010/1/16Candie Sweetser9/29/16
Committee on Individual Responsibility540010/1/16Glojean Todacheene9/25/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Sen. Joseph Cervantes11/7/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC150010/4/16Sen. Richard Martinez10/25/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/5/16Rep. Clemente Sanchez10/19/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Rep. Carl Trujillo10/20/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Rep. Kelly Fajardo11/26/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Rep. James Strickler10/14/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC20010/4/16Rep. Yvette Herrell11/9/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC20010/4/16Rep. Terry McMillan11/21/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC20010/4/16Rep. Rick Little11/15/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC100010/4/16Rep. Bill McCamleynot reported
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Sen. Stuart Inglenot reported
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Rep. Doreen Gallegos11/15/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Rep. Andy Nunez11/9/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC150010/4/16Sen. Michael Sanchez10/27/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC100010/4/16Sen. Mary Kay Papen11/7/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC250010/4/16Rep. Don Tripp10/27/16
El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC50010/4/16Sen. Howie Morales11/15/16
Greater Albuquerque Medical Assoc. PAC25010/4/16Sen. Mark Moores9/26/16
Greater Albuquerque Medical Assoc. PAC30010/4/16Sen. Richard Martinez10/4/16
Greater Albuquerque Medical Assoc. PAC50010/3/16Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino9/26/16
New Mexico Building & Construction Trades350010/5/16NM Senate Victory Fund10/5/16
New Mexico Building & Construction Trades350010/5/16House Democratic Campaign Committee10/13/16
New Mexico Chiropractic Assoc. Pac25010/4/16Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto10/11/16
New Mexico Chiropractic Assoc. Pac25010/4/16Liz Stefanics10/17/16
New Mexico Chiropractic Assoc. Pac25010/4/16Sen. Craig Brandt10/17/16
New Mexico Chiropractic Assoc. Pac25010/4/16Christina Hall10/25/16
New Mexico Petroleum Marketers Association100010/5/16Candace Gould10/6/16
Plumbers & Steamfitters, UA Local Union No. 41275010/6/16Rep. Sheryl Williams-Stapletonnot reported
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account I100010/6/16Don Tripp Speaker's PAC10/27/16
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account I50010/6/16Sen. Carroll Leavell11/7/16
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Political Account I50010/6/16Sen. John Sapiennot reported
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC260010/6/16Rep. Yvette Herrell11/9/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Sen. James P. White10/4/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. James Strickler10/31/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. James E. Smith10/20/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC100010/4/16Sen. Michael Sanchez10/13/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. William R. Rehm10/11/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert11/22/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC100010/4/16Sen. Mary Kay Papen10/21/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Andy Nunez10/26/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Greg Nibert10/14/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Terry McMillan10/31/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Bill McCamley10/30/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Sarah Maestas Barnes11/1/15
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Rick Little10/31/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Derrick J Lente10/25/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC75010/4/16Jeff Steinborn10/20/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Harry Garcia10/24/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Candace Gould10/4/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Kelly Fajardo10/17/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC100010/4/16Rep. Brian Egolf10/27/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Debra Marie Sarinana10/24/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Zachary J. Cook10/28/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage10/4/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Sen. Craig Brandt10/4/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Sen. Ted Barela11/7/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Angelica Rubio10/24/16
REALTORS ASSOC OF NM PAC50010/4/16Candie Sweetser10/18/16
Southwestern Committee on Political Education for Southwestern Public Serv. Co.100010/4/16Susana PAC9/27/16
Southwestern Committee on Political Education for Southwestern Public Serv. Co.25010/4/16Rep. Greg Nibert9/20/16

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