As Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella might have said, “Nevermind!”
More than four years after accusing Southwest Counseling Center of overbilling the state by $2.8 million in Medicaid reimbursements, the Human Services Department has settled with the former Las Cruces behavioral health provider for $484.87. SWCC was one of 15 health organizations accused of overbilling and potential fraud by Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration in 2013. The state suspended Medicaid payments to the organizations pending an investigation, and outsourced behavioral health contracts to five Arizona companies, which effectively crippled the network of New Mexico behavioral health providers. All the while, the state kept an audit they used to justify the move secret, making it impossible for each organization to know what they were being accused of specifically. See a timeline and read of coverage of the Medicaid freeze here.
Below is a list of lobbyists, their employers in 2017, and the 2017 expenses through May 1 that they’ve filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office. You may search for a lobbyist’s name or a specific company or sort the columns alphabetically or by amount. Or just peruse the information. A copy of the data in a Google spreadsheet is available here.
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.
Below are details for New Mexico lobbyists’ expenses from lobbyists reports filed during the 2016 legislative session, May 2016, October 2016, and Jan. 17. Names of lawmakers have not been standardized. Search by lobbyist or lawmakers, or sort by dates, amounts, etc. A copy of the data in a Google spreadsheet is available here.
A gaping revenue shortfall and lack of reserves have New Mexico’s legislators worried about short-circuiting the progress of large investments made in early childhood and safety net programs in recent years. A steep decline in the price of oil has contracted an industry on which New Mexico relies heavily, leading to broad layoffs, sales of oilfield equipment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. That, in turn, has gutted the cash from tax revenues state leaders counted on to pay for state operations. State leaders emptied out the state’s reserve fund to balance last year’s budget. Now they must close this year’s shortfall — projected at $69 million — without a pot of money that has cushioned economic pain in previous economic downturns.
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.
New Mexico political action committees raised $16.5 million and spent nearly $15.8 million from 2015 through Dec. 3. Leading the way were GOP super PAC Advance New Mexico Now and Democratic super PAC Patriot Majority New Mexico, with both groups targeting key legislative races. Advance still had $284,000 in cash left as of Dec. 3, money that could have been spent in its efforts to help Republicans retain control of the state House.
Fundraising and spending in the special election for secretary of state topped $1 million. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, was sworn in Friday to replace interim Secretary of State Brad Winter. She defeated Republican Rep. Nora Espinoza, of Roswell, with 56 percent of the vote in the November election. Toulouse Oliver outraised Espinoza $751,027 to $364,440, and outspent the Republican $740,052 to $353,924. The Democrat received 6,413 individual donations averaging $117 each to Espinoza’s 975 donations averaging $374 each.