Lobbyist spending tops $561K after late filings

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Not all lobbyists and organizations filed their expense reports with the New Mexico Secretary of State by the May 1 deadline.

But it’s unlikely they’ll face any consequences, a spokesman for the office said.

New Mexico In Depth reported on the $519,000 lobbyists and organizations spent from January 15 through April. That was based on reports downloaded May 2.

The additional reports, first examined by New Mexico In Depth in early June, bring the total spending this year to more than $561,000.

Two lobbyists who filed early the week of May 4 – Mickey Barnett and Zachary Riley – were included in the NMID analysis and tables published in early May.

Since then, nine more lobbyists and three organizations have filed spending reports.

Some apparently thought they’d filed the reports, but failed to complete the final filing step in the electronic system.

Common Cause of New Mexico was among the late filers, reporting $17,980 for post-session “thank-you” phone calls in March.

“I don’t remember filing it late,” said Common Cause Executive Director Viki Harrison. “I have it down on my calendar that I did it the first… Maybe it was still pending.”

Common Cause was the top spender during and after the 60-day legislative session. The group spent $104,442, all on advertising phone campaigns to encourage lawmakers pass legislation aimed at government transparency.

“I spent my money on grassroots phone campaigns and ads, not steaks and whiskey,” Harrison said.

The Baptist Convention of New Mexico also apparently failed to complete the filing process initially, said Ken Ortiz, a spokesman for Secretary of State’s Office. When asked about the group in early May, Ortiz replied to an email that his office would contact the group about finishing their May 1 report. The group’s report later showed up on the Secretary of State’s website.

On Jan. 30, the Baptist Convention hosted a legislative breakfast at a cost of $4,665, also spending $922 on inspirational calendars for lawmakers and state officials. Expenses of more than $500 are supposed to be filed with the Secretary of State within 48 hours.

But a representative of the association told New Mexico In Depth in February that she was unfamiliar with that requirement and wouldn’t file until May.

And IATSE Local 480 filed a late report of $3,689 in expenses, bringing the film workers’ union to a total of $9,407 from January through the end of April.

And nine individual lobbyists filed a total of $15,000 worth of expense reports after the deadline.

Ortiz said the office only reviews or audits lobbyist reports if someone reports a suspected violation. Most lobbyists don’t file reports with the Secretary of State because they don’t spend money on meals or gifts for lobbyists.

One of the bills supported by Common Cause and other groups requires the Secretary of State to keep more lobbying information online longer and provide the ability to download more data.

“We feel that our system meets that,” Ortiz said Thursday.

But he said the website will be updated to allow people to download information on all lobbyists and their employers and vice versa.

New Mexico In Depth analyzes information about lobbyists, employers and spending by downloading web pages from the Secretary of State, then using programming language to extract the information from the pages.

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