Lobbyists report spending nearly $300,000 during session

Credit: Mr TinDC (via Flickr Creative Commons)
Credit: Mr TinDC (via Flickr Creative Commons)

By Sandra Fish
New Mexico In Depth

Lobbyists and their employers reported spending nearly $300,000 during the 60-day session that ended Saturday – and that’s just the spending that totaled more than $500 at a time.

State law requires lobbyists to report any spending of $500 or more within 48-hours. All told, lobbyists and employers reported spending $295,300 during the session. This session, that included spending on meals, receptions, teddy bears and more.

More lobbyists will report individual expenditures under $500 at a time in reports to be filed May 1.

From 2011 through 2014, lobbyists and companies spent nearly $2 million on elected officials, with expenses ranging from meals to event tickets.

The biggest spender during the session was Common Cause New Mexico, which paid more than $86,000 for advertisements and phone calls to support bills that increased lobbying and campaign contribution regulation.

A bill that would have required disclosure of independent expenditures by nonprofit groups died. The measure to regulate lobbyists was watered down and is on the desk of Gov. Susana Martinez.

Instead of requiring lobbyists to disclose the issues they’re working on or the amount they’re being paid, it now simply requires the Secretary of State to improve its website for lobbyist reporting. And a measure to ban lawmakers and other government officials from lobbying for two years died in a Senate committee.

Second on the list of big session spenders was the New Mexico Golf and Tourism Alliance, which spent $25,000 on golf passes for lawmakers, while Steven Henke spent more than $22,000 on a reception sponsored by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

Here’s a look at all the 48-hour reports of spend over $500:

New Mexico In Depth will examine additional lobbyist spending reports when they’re filed May 1.

3 27 cancer wide

Legislative Session Outcomes, Gun Policies, Cancer Treatment in New Mexico, Dr. George Fischbeck

This week on New Mexico in Focus, host Gene Grant discusses the outcomes of the recent legislative session with a special panel of former state lawmakers. This year’s sixty day session was a contentious one. What does that mean for politics this year and in 2016?

Correspondent Gwyneth Doland sits down with two experts on state and national gun policies. The rate of gun-related deaths in New Mexico is higher than the national average. What steps could state leaders take to address this issue?

Producer Sarah Gustavus speaks with Dr. Angela Wandinger-Ness from the UNM Cancer Center about innovations in cancer treatment in New Mexico and encouraging local students to consider a career in medicine and cancer treatment. NMPBS will air the Ken Burns documentary Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies this weekend. Viewers can post their own stories about cancer on a special online wall available through the film’s website.

Finally, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. George Fischbeck, a popular television meteorologist who got his start in New Mexico.

Josh Horwitz, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV)
Dr. Beth McGinty, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dr. Angela Wandinger-Ness, UNM Cancer Center

Janice Arnold-Jones, Former NM State Representative
Dede Feldman, Former NM State Senator
Dan Foley, Former NM House Minority Whip
Eric Griego, Former NM State Senator

Gwyneth Doland, @GwynethDoland
Sarah Gustavus, @SarahGustavus

Host: Gene Grant

The Producer of NEW MEXICO IN FOCUS is Sarah Gustavus. Associate Producer is Kathy Wimmer. Funding for this program was provided in part by the McCune Foundation Communications Fund, Santa Fe Community Foundation.

Episode 837 for air March 27, 2015