[WATCH] State Rep hides almost $100k state contract and uses state resources to shamelessly self-promote, all in same day

Did Sarah Maestas Barnes violate state law with her job fair this week? If so, that makes twice in a week! Sarah Maestas Barnes was already in the hot seat after news broke Tuesday night that she hid $91,000 in annual income from her Financial Disclosure Statement. State Democratic leaders filed a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office last week citing Maestas Barnes’ failure to disclose the lucrative rent income her husband receives from his ownership of a building leased by a state agency. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE)- An up-and-coming republican state lawmaker who holds a key seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives did not report a $91,000 annual deal to rent space to a state agency, as required by New Mexico’s financial disclosure law for elected officials.

All in the Family: State Rep directs capital outlay to big brother’s big building project, and no one noticed

ProgressNow New Mexico filed a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General on Monday alleging that State Representative Paul Pacheco (R- Corrales, Rio Rancho, Albuquerque) used his position as a state legislator to  help a construction project designed and managed by his brother secure hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds, in apparent violation of state laws and ethics rules. A full copy of the complaint filed with the Attorney General is included at the bottom of this post, but here’s what you need to know. The report has people asking if the project his brother designed and managed would have been completed without Rep. Pacheco’s earmarked capital outlay. Update: After we shared our investigation with KRQE-TV, they asked Paul Pacheco for a response. View their preview of the investigation and hear Pacheco’s response.

POLL: Voters Overwhelmingly Support Campaign Finance and Ethics Reforms

A new poll commissioned by Common Cause NM  and conducted by Research and Polling Inc. has found that NM voters are extremely skeptical of lobbyists and anonymous campaign contributions and are strongly in favor of campaign finance and ethics reforms.

A press release from Common Cause NM today laid out some of the most interesting findings from the recent poll:
Statewide Poll Results Show Voters Overwhelmingly Support Campaign Finance and Ethics Reforms in 2015 Session

A poll of registered voters statewide taken by Research and Polling for Common Cause New Mexico from January 9 to January 13 shows voters are wary of lobbyists and anonymous contributors and support campaign finance and ethics reforms.  Approximately 450 randomly selected voters – both Republicans and Democrats – responded to telephone survey, which has a 4.5% margin of error. “The results of this poll confirm what we’ve been saying for several years, namely that everyone deserves to know who is lobbying and paying for the campaigns of our elected officials, and everyone should be held accountable for their actions,” said Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico. Among the top results: almost two thirds of the respondents say that New Mexico elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than voters and want political contributions from individuals limited. Specifically,

64% say New Mexico’s elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than voters; only 19% say they are more responsive to voters
63% support limits on the amount of money individuals can contribute to candidates
68% say contribution limits to candidates help prevent corruption

Respondents clearly favored more transparency measures for candidates and lobbyists. 92% support requiring all large political contributions from individuals, corporations, PACs, nonprofits and unions be made public
88% support a bill in this year’s session to require independent political groups to report their donors and how the money is being spent
89% think it is a good idea to require lobbyists to make public the bills and issues they have been hired to lobby on

When it comes to public financing of campaigns, now in effect on the state level for the Public Regulation Commission, the state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court:

76% support revising the system to prohibit unopposed candidates from receiving public funds
61% want to change the system to provide matching funds to candidates who agree to raise only contributions under $100
50% want to expand the voluntary system to include candidates for other judicial races

In other results relating to bills in the 2015 session:

86% favor an independent ethics commission
82% support a two- year pause before legislators become paid lobbyists
68% favor an independent redistricting commission to redraw district lines each decade, rather than legislators

Asked whether these issues were voting issues, 59% of respondents said they were more likely to support a candidate who pushes for campaign finance and ethics reforms.
Common Cause NM has released the full poll online.