Candidate finance reports still offer plenty of discrepencies

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There’s plenty of imperfection and discrepancy when it comes to trying to figure out campaign finance data in New Mexico.

A year ago, New Mexico In Depth reported how lobbyist contributions helped Republicans win the state House for the first time in 60 years.

But NMID also pointed out that candidates don’t always report those contributions consistently. KOB-TV did a series outlining such discrepancies in campaign contribution reports by legislative leaders last November.

The Secretary of State’s office clarified reporting requirements for lobbyists, and the Legislature passed a law aimed at improving reporting.

But candidates and some PACs continue to file reports with misleading and even inaccurate information. That’s one of the revelations of NMID’s examination of lawmakers giving campaign cash to other legislative candidates.

In standardizing some 71,000 rows of campaign finance data, NMID came across several examples. Here are a few.

The Tripps. There’s House Speaker Don Tripp’s candidate campaign account and there’s his House Speaker political action committee. Candidates who receive contributions from one or the other often simply list “Don Tripp” as the donor, so it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. There are also a handful of contributions from both Tripp and his wife, Rosalind, or just from his wife. Those five – totaling $3,750 – weren’t included in NMID’s analysis of legislative donations to other legislative candidates.

Michael Sanchez. The Senate majority leader’s name isn’t part of the NM Senate Majority Leadership Fund. But other Democratic candidates often list his name instead of the PAC as a donor.

That Senate Majority Leadership Fund. The PAC run by Sanchez doled out plenty of cash to incumbents last October, according to its campaign filing. But NMID found at least three candidates who failed to include the $1,000 contributions in their reports: Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, of Las Cruces, Sen. Cisco McSorley, of Albuquerque, and Sen. John Pinto, of Gallup.

papenPapen helps the House, but how? Papen lists a $500 donation to the “House Reelection Campaign” on June 23 with no address details. That isn’t the actual name of any political action committee. And the House Democratic Campaign Committee doesn’t list the donation. Who knows where that money went?

Stuart Ingle. The ingleSenate minority leader received $1,000 from Mike, an Albuquerque executive director, in December. No last name provided, and New Mexico doesn’t require disclosure of employers. Ingle’s more-detailed PDF, however, does offer up the name of Associated Contractors of New Mexico PAC. So did the check come from the PAC, executive director Mike Beck or some other Mike?

In-kind contributions. Many candidates listed in-kind contributions from leadership PACs. But those PACs don’t always specify candidates receiving in-kind services – presumably polling, voter lists, consulting, etc. One example: Vicki Chavez listed more than $10,000 in in-kind contributions from the Republican Leadership PAC, operated by House Majority Leader Nate Gentry. That PAC doesn’t list Chavez as a beneficiary on either of the two reports that coincide with the donations. Another: Several Democratic candidates listed in-kind donations from the House Democratic Campaign Committee. But that committee merely reported consulting, printing and other expenses with no details.

Lobbyist or client? You’d think after the KOB series in November, candidates might have started paying more attention to detail. But when PAC 22, run by Ingle, received a $10,800 check from Devon Energy in late December, it listed lobbyist Art Hull as the donor. But Hull didn’t personally write that check. The contribution memo field noted “devon CK,” so NMID changed the contributor information to the Oklahoma Energy company.

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