New Mexico Ethics Watch

Arianna Sena / KUNM

  Let's Talk New Mexico 3/5 8a: Lobbyists spent more than $195,000 on events, meals and giveaways for state legislators during the 2019 legislative session, working out to more than $6,500 a day. Ethics advocates worry that this kind of spending influences those legislators’ decisions in the Roundhouse, and think the public has a right to know exactly what’s going on.

n8agrin via flickr

New Mexico is among a handful of states that allow vague reporting on spending by lobbyists – people whose business it is to push an issue at the Roundhouse or otherwise try to influence the government. A new report last month shows how money is being spent and highlights the lack of transparency when it comes to money in politics. Executive Director of New Mexico Ethics Watch, Kathleen Sabo, sat down with KUNM to talk about the group's findings.

no author / public domain via goodfreephotos.com

For decades, legislators have repeatedly fumbled the creation of an ethics commission to stop government corruption. But voters demanded one overwhelmingly in November, and now it’s on some of the very people the commission would police—state lawmakers—to decide what it can and can’t do. They’re considering two bills this year: one where people can see what the commission’s up to and one where it’s mostly secret.

RICHIE DIESTERHEFT VIA FLICKR / CREATIVE COMMONS

Most other states around the country have some kind of watchdog agency in place to investigate politicians and other powerful people entrusted with public dollars. But New Mexico doesn’t have anything like that. So would a commission with the power to investigate and field ethics complaints help stop corruption here? The issue will be on ballots in November.