Four New Mexico donors kicked in $145,500 to the committee that paid President Donald Trump’s inauguration. That’s a fraction of the $107 million the inaugural committee reported raising in a report filed last week. Select Milk Producers, an Artesia-based dairy company, kicked in $100,000. That company is likely to benefit from an executive order to promote agriculture Trump signed this week. The administration is also involved in a dispute with Canada over pricing of dairy products.
The Albuquerque City Clerk is asking six mayoral and two city council candidates to fix campaign filing mistakes ranging from anonymous contributions to missing employers and occupations. The candidates have 10 days to remedy the errors or face fines. Susan Wheeler-Deischel received the most reprimands. As New Mexico In Depth previously pointed out, her campaign listed “NA” for employers in 17 instances. Another entry was blank.
Employees of companies that do business with the city, and a few of those companies themselves, donated more than $74,000 to Albuquerque mayoral candidates through the end of March, an analysis by New Mexico In Depth found. That’s more than twice the amount the city found in an official report submitted last week, which was required within 48 hours of the latest campaign finance deadline. In 2007, Albuquerque voters approved a ban on corporate contributions and contributions from city contractors. But a 2013 lawsuit overturned those bans. As a result, the city’s purchasing department is now required to identify donors who do business with the city worth $20,000 or more during the last two years, as well as employees of those donors.
New Mexico’s 2018 election season is off to a fast start when it comes to campaign cash. Candidates reported raising $1.8 million in reports filed Monday, with nearly half that raised by Democratic gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The reports shed light on possible upcoming 2018 races. They also show funds raised for school board elections that concluded in February. You can search the data at New Mexico In Depth’s Openness Project.
New Mexico lawmakers passed 277 bills in this year’s 2017 session, but Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed more than half of them. Democrats, particularly Senate Democrats, were the most frequent veto victims.
Overall, Martinez vetoed 60 percent of the 172 bills sponsored solely by Democrats. She signed nearly 72 percent of the 60 bills sponsored solely by Republicans. And she approved nearly 58 percent of the 45 bills with bipartisan sponsorship. Here’s a look at the raw numbers by sponsorship:
House Republicans saw 78 percent of the 32 bills they passed become law, the highest success rate.
Gov. Susana Martinez, who has touted herself as a champion of transparency, on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have required lobbyists to return to disclosing more information publicly about money they spend on public officials. The Legislature passed a law that weakened those rules last year but sought to correct what some lawmakers called an inadvertent mistake during this year’s 60-day session, which ended last month. Martinez’s veto means lobbyists won’t need to report expenses on lawmakers and other public officials under $100, as they did prior to the current law taking effect. Martinez explained her reasoning in a one-page veto message. “Various interpretations and ambiguity of the bill became clear” after discussion with the bill sponsor, Martinez wrote in her veto message, although she didn’t detail that ambiguity.
Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell is a race horse owner, as she points out on her Twitter biography and her financial disclosure document. As a Republican lawmaker from Roswell, Ezzell often proposes and advocates for legislation that impacts the racing industry. At least seven of the 13 members of the House Education Committee are current or former educators, and one is a former school board member. At every meeting they take action on legislation that could impact their current or former livelihoods. Then there’s House Speaker Brian Egolf, the Santa Fe Democrat criticized by Republicans for failing to disclose his client – a medical cannabis provider – before the Department of Health.
Lobbyists reported spending nearly $292,000 during the 2017 legislative session, with more to be reported in May. Many of the final reports focused not on buying meals for lawmakers, but on campaigns to lobby them. Two groups, New Mexicans for Comprehensive Energy Solutions and Americans for Comprehensive Energy Solutions, spent spent nearly $16,900 on digital and newspaper advertising to encourage the Legislature to extend renewable energy tax credits. The bills the group supported didn’t make it out of committee. The American Federation of Teachers reported spending $10,000 for a consultant in “issue education for budget and revenue.”
The American Cancer Society Action Network lobbyist reported spending $9,591 on Facebook ads and phone calls urging support of a tax increase on tobacco products, an effort that failed.
The New Mexico Senate on Thursday approved a watered-down measure to investigate why nearly $1 billion in infrastructure money remains unspent. Senate Bill 262 next moves to the House with less than two days to go in the 2017 legislative session. The committee in the original bill would have vetted projects that are placed in most annual capital outlay bills by individual lawmakers. But a Senate Finance Committee amendment took away that authority. And a floor amendment restricted the committee to a three-year term.
A measure intended to reform infrastructure spending is headed to the Senate floor after Senate Finance Committee approval Tuesday. But there is limited time to get the measure through the full Legislature to the governor’s desk by the end of the 2017 session at noon on Saturday. An amendment to Senate Bill 262 removes references to a July 1 deadline for state agencies, lawmakers and others to submit projects for consideration. That would take away some of the teeth in what was originally aimed at ending a legislative pork-barrel process. It’s also unclear if the committee would actually rank projects by order of importance, although the amendment includes language prioritizing projects that “fill critical health and safety needs; create jobs” and more.