Lobbyists target House money panel

Steve Terrell
The Santa Fe New Mexican

SANTA FE — There has been no shortage of parties, receptions and meals paid for by lobbyists available to New Mexico legislators during the current session. But this month one group of legislators has received more generosity than others.

House Appropriations and Finance Committee members have been special guests at two events at The Bull Ring steakhouse in downtown Santa Fe, according to spending reports filed by lobbyists in recent days.

Jeff Dye, lobbyist for New Mexico Hospital Association, reported that he paid $4,493 for a Feb. 5 dinner for committee members, guests and staff. Marla Shoats, lobbyist for several clients, kicked in another $1,688 for that event.

Then, on Feb. 10, Mark Duran, lobbyist for several clients, spent $4,300 on a reception and dinner also at The Bull Ring for the same committee, plus guests and staff members.

Although most lobbyists' expense reports document meals and parties, by far the largest recent report was for an advertising campaign. The New Mexico Federation of Labor on Feb. 8 spent $15,000 spent for digital ads opposed to "right-to-work" legislation. The Senate Public Affairs Committee last week tabled such a bill, which would have prohibited unions from charging fees to non-members in union shops.

Three reports filed this week related to the annual "100th Bill Party," which took place Saturday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. All lawmakers and staff were invited.

LKQ Corp., an auto parts company with outlets in Albuquerque, spent $1,000 on this event, while Josh Rosen, lobbyist for Albuquerque Studios and the New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools, kicked in another $1,000. Drew Setter, lobbyist for a variety of clients, contributed $500.

It's not clear whether there are any other additional lobbyists who helped pay for the event but haven't yet filed reports.

Other social events for legislators for which lobbyists picked up the tab include Feb. 8 parties paid for by The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 480. The union spent a total of $8,425, including $6,148 for a reception at the Pink Adobe, and another $2,276 for an "after party" at the Rio Chama Steakhouse.

Other lobbyists who recently filed reports include:

* Ty Trujillo, lobbyist for New Mexico Association of Community Colleges, spent $4,156 for a reception for legislators at The Bull Ring on Feb. 4.

* Ruth Hoffman, lobbyist for Rocky Mountain Synod-Evangelical Lutheran Church, spent $1,927 on a luncheon at La Fonda on the Plaza on Feb. 4.

The state Gift Act prohibits lobbyists from giving gifts valued at more than $250 to individual lawmakers. During a session of the Legislature, lobbyists are required to report to the Secretary of State's Office expenditures larger than $500 within 48 hours of the spending.