Saturday, February 15, 2014

Feeding the Lawmakers

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with a lobbyist I've known for years. He wanted to talk to me about a problem he sees with my ongoing coverage of lobbyist expense reports.

In short, he said his clients don't like to see themselves included in my lobbyist articles. Therefore, they ordered him not to do big events for lawmakers or make any expenditures for which he'd have to file reports. He's complied with that. I haven't seen his name in the reports for a few years.

But, my lobbyist friend told me, the real losers in this are the restaurants and bars that aren't getting the money he'd otherwise be spending. Not only the businesses, but the waiters, waitresses, busboys and dishwashers.

All because of my stupid reports on lobbyists!

I argued that all these legislators would have to be buying their own meals if the lobbyists weren't buying their own meals. He countered that when this happens, most legislators will just buy cheap hamburgers or hotdogs -- not the good, expensive food lobbyist parties offer.

He had a good point that it costs so much to stay in Santa Fe, the per diem legislators get doesn't cover much food.

I told him that it's a strange system we have where legislators for sustenance have to depend on deep-pocketed people who are trying to influence their votes.

I also told him what I always say here: Citizens have the right to know who is buying food, drink and entertainment for the people we elect to represent us.

This week's account of money spent by lobbyists is in today's New Mexican.

My previous list of lobbyist expenses reports is HERE

An earlier story on lobbyist reports ran Jan. 31. You can find that HERE

My story about the top 10 political contributors among lobbyists is HERE