Lobbying Data Needs Fix

Las Cruces state representative introduces bill to require more lobbying transparency

(Anson Stevens-Bollen)

Navigate to the lobbying reports in the secretary of state's online campaign finance disclosure

database

, and the website will tell viewers that, in 2014, lobbyists spent $1.6 million on food, drinks, gifts and parties for the officials New Mexicans elected to create state laws.

Yet the state admits that's the wrong figure.

According to a spreadsheet provided by the secretary of state's office in response to a public records request, lobbyists actually spent $877,974 in 2014.

Ken Ortiz, chief of staff to Secretary of State Dianna Duran, says officials have been working with the vendor to fix the discrepancy.

That's just the tip of New Mexico's

disclosure problems

when it comes to lobbying.

Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, has introduced a

bill

that would broadly expand reporting requirements for both lobbyists and the secretary of state's office that oversees them.

For instance, the bill would require Duran's office to keep lobbying reports "archived and accessible" on its disclosure website for a period of ten years, instead of the required two years.

Accessible, it says, means "that all records are easily searchable, sortable and downloadable by the public."

That's still not the case, and why government transparency advocates who support the bill say the legislature will need to appropriate more taxpayer money toward the task. No fiscal impact report on just how much money that might take has been made public yet.

Steinborn tells SFR he hopes the bill will be heard in committee next week. He's uncertain about how Republicans, who now control the House, will react to the measure.

Santa Fe Reporter

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