Criticism of a massive undercover drug- and gun-crime sting spilled into the Albuquerque mayoral race last week, when candidates were pressed about a 2016 federal law enforcement operation that netted a disproportionate number of black people. It was a serious question, made all the more serious by the man asking: Joe Powdrell, a longtime local activist past president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which sponsored the Sept. 8 forum. The operation has drawn community and legal scrutiny for alleged racial profiling and for scooping up many who did not fit the “worst of the worst” profile trumpeted by federal officials after New Mexico In Depth investigations. Picking up on the alleged racial targeting, Powdrell asked the candidates “where your head is at in terms of this biased policing.”
Only three of the seven candidates who attended the forum addressed the sting directly.
Lobbyists reported spending more than $690,000 during the first four months of the year to influence legislators and other public officials. Much of the money went to food, drinks and gifts for lawmakers and other public officials. But nearly $244,450 went to advertising and phone calls aimed at motivating constituents to contact their lawmakers on a variety of issues. That advocacy spending, by 11 different groups, is considerably higher than the $106,000 reported by two interest groups in 2015, the last 60-day session. Much of the 2017 advocacy focused on failed efforts to increase background checks on gun purchases, but lobbyists reported trying to rally constituents to contact lawmakers on other issues as well.
Below are details for New Mexico lobbyists’ expenses for the first four months of 2017 based on reports of spending through May 1. The information comes from a New Mexico In Depth analysis of information from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website. Search by lobbyist, employer or lawmakers, or sort by dates, amounts, etc. A copy of the data in a Google spreadsheet is available here.
Below is a list of lobbyists, their employers in 2017, and the 2017 expenses through May 1 that they’ve filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office. You may search for a lobbyist’s name or a specific company or sort the columns alphabetically or by amount. Or just peruse the information. A copy of the data in a Google spreadsheet is available here.
Four New Mexico donors kicked in $145,500 to the committee that paid President Donald Trump’s inauguration. That’s a fraction of the $107 million the inaugural committee reported raising in a report filed last week. Select Milk Producers, an Artesia-based dairy company, kicked in $100,000. That company is likely to benefit from an executive order to promote agriculture Trump signed this week. The administration is also involved in a dispute with Canada over pricing of dairy products.
The Albuquerque City Clerk is asking six mayoral and two city council candidates to fix campaign filing mistakes ranging from anonymous contributions to missing employers and occupations. The candidates have 10 days to remedy the errors or face fines. Susan Wheeler-Deischel received the most reprimands. As New Mexico In Depth previously pointed out, her campaign listed “NA” for employers in 17 instances. Another entry was blank.
Employees of companies that do business with the city, and a few of those companies themselves, donated more than $74,000 to Albuquerque mayoral candidates through the end of March, an analysis by New Mexico In Depth found. That’s more than twice the amount the city found in an official report submitted last week, which was required within 48 hours of the latest campaign finance deadline. In 2007, Albuquerque voters approved a ban on corporate contributions and contributions from city contractors. But a 2013 lawsuit overturned those bans. As a result, the city’s purchasing department is now required to identify donors who do business with the city worth $20,000 or more during the last two years, as well as employees of those donors.
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.
Below are details for New Mexico lobbyists’ expenses from lobbyists reports filed during the 2016 legislative session, May 2016, October 2016, and Jan. 17. Names of lawmakers have not been standardized. Search by lobbyist or lawmakers, or sort by dates, amounts, etc. A copy of the data in a Google spreadsheet is available here.
A gaping revenue shortfall and lack of reserves have New Mexico’s legislators worried about short-circuiting the progress of large investments made in early childhood and safety net programs in recent years. A steep decline in the price of oil has contracted an industry on which New Mexico relies heavily, leading to broad layoffs, sales of oilfield equipment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. That, in turn, has gutted the cash from tax revenues state leaders counted on to pay for state operations. State leaders emptied out the state’s reserve fund to balance last year’s budget. Now they must close this year’s shortfall — projected at $69 million — without a pot of money that has cushioned economic pain in previous economic downturns.
New Mexico bans lobbyists or their employers from giving money to lawmakers or candidates running for legislative seats anytime the Legislature is in session.
But it isn’t clear from a review of reports filed by legislators, candidates and political action committees covering the Sept. 30-Oct. 6 special session if everyone understands the law or even remembers it is on the books.
In addition, a lack of standard reporting requirements and spotty or sloppy entries appear to make it difficult to know when and if a violation has occurred.