Lobbyist expense reports filed with the Secretary of State’s office seem to have slowed to a trickle. Only a handful of new ones have been filed in the past two weeks.
While the Legislature is in session, lobbyists are required by law to report expenditures larger than $500 within 48 hours of the spending.
Freshman Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, said the consensus among lawmakers he has talked to is that this has been a relatively quiet session in terms of lobbyist-sponsored social events.
“It might be because there’s just no money this year. There’s not as much pie to fight for,” Keller said.
But Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, said he doesn’t see much difference. He said he thinks it’s pretty typical to have many social events at the beginning of a session, then for things to slow down around midpoint. “In the second half of the session there’s not as much, because lobbyists realize we’re all at committee meetings,” Martinez said.
The biggest event listed in the new reports was a Feb. 12 “legislative mixer” at the Inn at Loretto, sponsored by the Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico. The total cost for the event at the downtown Santa Fe hotel was $11,702.
Also at the Inn at Loretto, also listed on Feb. 12, was a cocktail reception for legislators courtesy of the Independent Petroleum Association. That event cost $3,183.
Some legislative committees were guests at expensive dinners paid for by lobbyists for non-profit groups.
On Valentine’s Day, an organization called Educate New Mexico spent $2,126 on dinner at the Bull Ring for members of the Senate Education Committee, their spouses and staff. Educate New Mexico on its Web site described itself as is “an independent, non-profit organization established by volunteers to promote and finance excellent educational opportunities for students from families with modest incomes.”
On Feb 20, Mark Duran, lobbyist for the Lensic Performing Arts Center, spent $2,767 for a dinner for the House Appropriation & Finance Committee. His report doesn’t say where the dinner was held.
Some of the expenses in the reports have nothing to do with wining and dining lawmakers.
For instance, Peter Simonson, state executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union reported spending $1,700 earlier this month for a poll about the domestic partnership bill, Senate Bill 12, which the ACLU was backing. The Senate voted to defeat the bill this week.
Senate Republicans, who opposed the bill, also paid for a poll regarding SB12, but they hadn’t filed any report as of Friday afternoon.
An Albuquerque land-use lawyer -- who this month filed a complaint against the SunCal company’s advertising campaign in favor of Tax Increment Development Districts -- launched a smaller-scale ad campaign of her own. According to a report filed with the secretary of state’s office, Lora Lucero on Feb. 9, spent $2,495 for newspaper ads in The New Mexican and The Weekly Alibi.
The Secretary of State’s office has ruled that SunCal doesn’t have to file a report for its advertising campaign until 15 days after the session ends.
On the same legislative issue, according to recently filed lobbyist reports, the Southwest Organizing Project spent $7,130 on radio ads against TIDDs.
The Senate this week passed s SB249, which was being pushed by SunCal for its TIDDs planned for Albuquerque.