The year 2020 will forever be synonymous with misery. Besides killing nearly 3,200 people in New Mexico, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the economy to shut down, causing tens of thousands to lose their jobs in this state in 2020. But according to a new report by New Mexico Ethics Watch, money from oil and gas interests to New Mexico politicians and political organizations continued to flow, with almost $3.3 million from the industry going to political causes during this past election cycle.
Using campaign finance data from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office and the National Institute on Money in Politics’ FollowtheMoney.org, New Mexico Ethics Watch documented $3,296,839 in direct contributions from the industry to candidates, committees, and PACs in the state during the primary and general elections last year. This amount is eye-popping in a small, low-income state like New Mexico, where the average annual income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is just over $26,000. However, the totals would increase dramatically if lobbyist compensation were included. New Mexico does not require this disclosure, unlike many other states.
“Though the pandemic left many New Mexicans struggling to make ends meet, oil-friendly politicians didn’t have to worry about their campaign coffers going dry,” said Kathleen Sabo, executive director of New Mexico Ethics Watch. “Hopefully this report will encourage journalists, academic researchers and the general public to better scrutinize the political activities of this major industry. And we hope policy makers will take action to improve transparency and accountability in the area of campaign finance.”
Sabo co-authored the report with New Mexico Ethics Watch’s Lauren Hutchison, Tony Ortiz, Steve Terrell and Collin Troy.
Read the full report
The City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission published a “Strategic Plan and Performance Measurements” document in 2017.
Here’s what it provides as mission and activities:
The Public Ethics Commission (PEC) ensures compliance with the City of Oakland’s government ethics, campaign finance, transparency, and lobbyist registration laws that aim to promote fairness, openness, honesty, and integrity in city government.
Lead/Collaborate – Lead by example and facilitate City policy, management, and technological changes to further the PEC’s mission.
Educate/Engage – Provide education, advice, technical assistance, and formal legal opinions to promote awareness and understanding of the city’s campaign finance, ethics, and transparency laws.
Disclose/Illuminate – Facilitate accurate, effective, and accessible disclosure of government integrity data, such as campaign finance reporting, conflicts of interest/gifts reports, and lobbyist activities, all of which help the public and PEC staff monitor filings, view information,
and detect inconsistencies or noncompliance.
Detect/Deter – Conduct investigations and audits to monitor compliance with the laws within the PEC’s jurisdiction.
Prosecute – Obtain compliance and impose fines or penalties for violations of the laws within the PEC’s jurisdiction through administrative or civil remedies.”
Sound good? Anything you would add or take away for our new independent ethics commission?
Please leave your comments on our Facebook page post at https://www.facebook.com/NMEthicsWatch/
With pre-filing of legislation underway since mid-December, it’s just a matter of time before ethics commission enabling legislation is introduced by a member of the legislature. NMEW participated in the Ethics Commission Working Group, with fellow advocacy groups, business leaders, journalists, private citizens, government officials, and legislators. Together, we crafted a draft bill, 75 or 80% of which is agreed-upon material. For the remaining percentage, we set out choices, involving jurisdiction, the powers of the commission and executive director, etc. Now, it is up to individual legislators to make choices and introduce bills in alignment with their values and beliefs.
As bills are introduced, we’ll be letting you know – and updating – their location (w/ committee member names and numbers), and analyzing and comparing them to each other and to nationwide best practices. You’ll be able to access that information from the top of our website.
There will be a lot to be absorbed and understood, so feel free to reach out to NMEW if we can be of assistance. We’ll be doing our best to serve you!