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.
Legislative candidates raised $12 million and spent more than $10.3 million during the 2016 election cycle. Republicans lost their state House majority despite outraising and outspending Democrats overall. Democratic Senate candidates outspent their GOP opponents while increasing their majority. even though Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez lost his seat after an onslaught of negative advertising funded by a super PAC. Candidates filed their final reports Thursday.
Democrats took back the House and increased their hold over the state Senate last week. That’s despite the loss of Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez to Republican Greg Baca, which GOP Gov. Susana Martinez declared a major victory. Come January, the House majority will switch from 37-33 in favor of Republicans to at least 37-33 in the Democrats’ favor. That margin could increase to as high as 39-31, depending on the outcome of two recounts in the Albuquerque area. Here’s a look at the seats that switched or might switch:
House District 36: Las Cruces Democrat Nate Small defeated incumbent Rep. Andy Nunez with 56.5 percent of the vote to 43.5 percent of the vote.