New Mexico lobbyist spending tops $231K halfway through session

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Common Cause New Mexico is running ads to support transparency legislation.

Common Cause New Mexico is running ads to support transparency legislation.

Common Cause New Mexico is running ads online and in newspapers to support transparency legislation.

Lobbyists and organizations have reported spending more than $231,000 trying to influence lawmakers in the first half of the 60-day session.

Much of that money went toward wining and dining legislators. And that only includes expenditures of $500 or more that are required to be reported to the Secretary of State within 48 hours.

Common Cause New Mexico, a non-profit citizens’ lobby supporting reform of lobbyist and campaign finance laws, spent the most. The group reported spending more than $79,000 on advertising and a phone campaign supporting bills requiring more disclosure and an ethics commission.

“We’re running online ads and print ads,” said Executive Director Viki Harrison. “We’re focusing on three things: The electoral disclosure bill, the ethics commission and the lobby disclosure bill.”

House Bill 115 creating a state ethics commission, House Bill 155 requiring greater disclosure for lobbyists, House Bill 241 and Senate Bill 512 requiring a two-year cooling off period before elected officials become lobbyists, and House Bill 278 and Senate Bill 384 requiring greater campaign finance disclosure are all in the committee process. The House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear HB 278 Tuesday afternoon. The House Judiciary Committee will hear HB 241 Thursday afternoon.

Voqal USA helped to pay for the print and online advertisements, Harrison said.

New Mexico In Depth downloaded and analyzed spending by individual lobbyists and organizations that filed 48-hour reports as part of an examination of lobbyist spending and disclosure.

Among the big spenders since the last NMID report:

  • Steven Henke spent more than $22,000 on a Feb. 17 dinner sponsored by the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association.
  • Michael Bowen spent more than $17,000 for a New Mexico Mining Association reception and dinner on Feb. 11.
  • The University of New Mexico spent more than $12,800 on a Feb. 9 reception for lawmakers, other elected officials and cabinet secretaries and university officials at the La Fonda Hotel.

There are still several more events are on lawmakers’ social calendar, including Thursday’s 100th Bill Party at the El Dorado Hotel.

Here’s a look at all the 48-hour reports of spending over $500 through midday Sunday:

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