While New Mexico’s colleges and universities are hoping today’s special legislative session restores hundreds of million worth of funding, the Secretary of State’s office is yearning for something more modest. That’s $950,000 for a new online reporting system. New Mexico In Depth reported last week on lobbying records that revealed nearly $318,000 in advertising spending in 2016 and 2017 that was undisclosed because the reports exist only in paper form. The Secretary of State’s online system isn’t set up to receive and post the advertising-only filings online and the agency has requested the software upgrades the past two years. The upgrades would allow filers to submit such reports online, rather than on paper forms.
But for now, data downloads for lobbyists don’t include all the available information.
A state Senate committee failed to muster enough votes Wednesday morning to pass a bill that would fix a transparency loophole the Legislature created last year. But the bill sponsor said he’ll try again to get the measure through the Rules Committee. The loophole allows lobbyists to disclose much less about how they spend money on public officials than they used to. It removed a requirement for lobbyists to report expenses spent on individual lawmakers below $100. Previously, lobbyists had to report all spending, itemizing expenses spent above $75 per lawmaker and reporting the cumulative amount of expenses below $75 per lawmaker.
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.
Democrat Hillary Clinton won New Mexico’s five electoral votes a week ago, but her popularity varied among counties. And both Clinton and President-elect Donald Trump received fewer total votes than the two candidates in the special New Mexico Secretary of State contest. Part of that is attributable to the presence of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as the Libertarian presidential candidate. He won 10 percent or more of the vote in 10 counties, including nearly 14 percent in Los Alamos County. Clinton won 15 of the state’s 33 counties, 10 of them with more than half the vote.
Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton made a splash with their TV ads in New Mexico in the final week of campaign 2016. But neither candidate broke into the top three spenders or the top five advertisers during October. Republican Trump spent $219,500 on 466 ads in the state, while Democrat Clinton spent $179,374 on 1,194 ads. (Clinton’s spending went further because she also bought ads on cable and satellite TV, which is less expensive than network TV ads.)
That’s according to an analysis of TV and cable ad contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission. 1st Congressional District Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, still tops the list of spenders during October at $427,463.
Republican House Majority Leader Nate Gentry and several other legislative candidates began airing TV ads last week. New Mexicans will see more than 11,000 political ads on TV this month at a cost of more than $2 million, according to a New Mexico In Depth analysis of contracts filed through Friday with the Federal Communications Commission. Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham leads in spending with more than $419,000. Super PAC Advance New Mexico Now is spending nearly $244,000 on ads in the Albuquerque area to attack Democratic Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, of Belen. Update: On Monday, two stations filed additional Advance contracts worth nearly $70,000 for ads in the final week of the election.
Republican secretary of state candidate Nora Espinoza hit the political airwaves over the weekend, buying nearly $150,000 in ad time on traditional TV through Election Day. Her Democratic opponent, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, has spent about $61,000 on advertising since Oct. 3. Most of her current contracts end this week.