Fundraising gives insight into New Mexico 2018 gubernatorial race

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.

Martinez vetoes bill to close lobbyist loophole

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.

Legislature passes campaign finance reform years in the making

It’s now up to Republican Gov. Susana Martinez whether New Mexico’s campaign finance disclosure laws will be modernized. The Senate agreed to House amendments to Senate Bills 96 and 97 Tuesday. The House approved the two measures Monday night. SB 96 has the greater impact, aiming for more disclosure from independent spending groups during campaigns. But it also doubles the donation limits for legislators to $5,000 for each primary and general election cycle.

Out-of-state money dominates giving for biggest PACs

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.

Secretary of State race tops $1 million

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.