Lobbyists report spending nearly $292K during session

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Lobbyists reported spending nearly $292,000 during the 2017 legislative session, with more to be reported in May.

Many of the final reports focused not on buying meals for lawmakers, but on campaigns to lobby them.

Two groups, New Mexicans for Comprehensive Energy Solutions and Americans for Comprehensive Energy Solutions, spent spent nearly $16,900 on digital and newspaper advertising to encourage the Legislature to extend renewable energy tax credits. The bills the group supported didn’t make it out of committee.

The American Federation of Teachers reported spending $10,000 for a consultant in “issue education for budget and revenue.”

The American Cancer Society Action Network lobbyist reported spending $9,591 on Facebook ads and phone calls urging support of a tax increase on tobacco products, an effort that failed.

And CHI St. Joseph’s Children’s lobbyist reported spending $2,651 on an ad in the Santa Fe New Mexican thanking Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, for his vote on House Joint Resolution 1. Trujillo suffered heart problems early in the session, and was hospitalized in Denver. He missed most of the session.

But on March 8, he showed up on the floor to vote for HJR1, a measure to use a portion of permanent funds for early childhood education. It’s a measure he’s advocated in the past. But it died in the Senate Rules Committee, where two Democrats joined Republicans in defeating it.

State law requires lobbyists to report expense of $500 or more during the session within 48 hours of the spending.

Lobbyists typically spend plenty more during the legislative session. For instance, Everytown for Gun Safety spent $12,500 for canvassing work on a gun background check bill by ProgressNow New Mexico, but told New Mexico In Depth the spending wouldn’t be reported until May.

The next lobbyist expense report filings are due May 3.

Those May reports may include less disclosure than in past years. A loophole created by a 2016 revision of lobbyist reporting allows lobbyists to avoid reporting expenses less than $100 per person. In the past, lobbyists were required to report aggregate totals for such expenditures. Many lobbyists continued to report cumulative totals, while others didn’t.

That loophole will be closed on July 1, however, if Gov. Susana Martinez signs Senate Bill 393. That bill requires lobbyists to resume reporting cumulative totals for expenses less than $100.

Here’s a look at 48-hour reports filed through Monday:

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