[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.

Taxpayers spend $1.1 million for Gov’s press team that refuses to let her talk to the press

“With a team of communication directors and public information officers who collectively earn more than $1 million annually, getting information from the Martinez’ administration shouldn’t be a problem, but for many reporters, such access is limited or nonexistent.” – Peter St. Cyr, Santa Fe Reporter

After coming into office promising to be the most transparent and accountable governor in New Mexico history, Susana Martinez’s administration has developed the reputation for closing the door to anyone with a tough question or in-depth follow up to her public relations team’s carefully scripted photo ops and polished press releases. But it’s not for lack of staff to help facilitate that public communication – in fact, taxpayers pay more than a million dollars per year, the Santa Fe Reporter found, for a team of spokespeople and public information officers who ignore the press and public questions. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Gov’s $7,900 Xmas Party Prompts Dems to Call for Oversight

Santa Fe –  Governor Martinez’s Christmas Parties are now legendary. Her post-party 911 call to Santa Fe Police drew national attention after she used the occasion to demand the names of anyone who complained about the rowdy post-gala pizza party she attended in an upscale Santa Fe hotel. It also didn’t help that she told police to go away instead of investigating. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez noted that anyone else would likely have gone to jail for that action alone:

“Any regular person who tried to do what she did would be subject to a charge of obstruction” Sen. Sanchez #NMPol https://t.co/hQCsoLLfqm
— NM Senate Democrats (@NMSenateDems) December 23, 2015
After the fact, we learn that the governor’s office paid for the big Christmas blowout was paid for by taxpayers at a cost of more than $7,900. What was wrong with the office potluck?

It’s Alive! Lobbyist Disclosure Bill Could Make it to Gov’s Desk

We reported earlier in the legislative session about Rep. Jeff Steinborn’s bill to require more transparency from lobbyists in New Mexico. After being tabled in it’s first committee, Rep. Steinborn was forced to revise the bill somewhat. Though it’s not as strong as it was originally, the bill still represents a common-sense step in providing more transparency around the influence big-money lobbyists are having on our legislative process. A recent poll commissioned by Common Cause NM found that 89% of voters think it is a good idea to require lobbyists to make public the bills and issues they have been hired to lobby on. Further, the poll showed that 64% of voters say New Mexico’s elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than voters; only 19% say they are more responsive to voters.

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.

Leaked tapes not the first. A quick review of emails, tapes & whistleblowers from inside the 4th (and 5th) floor

Yesterday’s explosive audio tapes of Susana Martinez and her staff making light of New Mexico’s language heritage and crafting a plan to hide their position on teacher pay made big news across the country. But this isn’t the first time internal conversations have given voters a look inside Martinez’s inner circle. Here’s a quick recap:

In January 2011, public records requests uncovered administration emails showing the new administration letting industry lobbyists write an executive order limiting regulation of the industry. [Read More]

 

In Aug. 2012, Martinez’s campaign lawyer and inner circle advisor Pat Rogers was forced to resign his high paying attorney/lobbyist job after he sent a racist email containing a rant against the state’s Native American community and suggesting that meeting with Native people was disrespectful to the memory of noted Indian-killer Col.