Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Healthy Teeth, Happy Legislators

Maybe next year they'll give legislators
copies of this classic album
In my most recent report on lobbyist spending, a noted that Joe Menapace, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Dental Association spent $1,790 on a gift for legislators that he described in his report as “oral health.” 

I couldn't reach him for comment that day so I noted I couldn't say exactly what the "oral health" gift was but that I'd recently seen some electric toothbrushes on lawmakers' desks.

But I guess it wasn't the actual toothbrushes I'd seen. Menapace just emailed me and explained the association's gift was "a package containing two replacement brushes for the unit or system with a recharging base and an electric cord."

Menapace also sent this statement explaining that several years ago the groups decided not just to throw parties for the legislators.

The Dental Association’s leadership decided not to host an expensive reception or dinner in Santa Fe during legislative sessions but rather to invest in something the lawmakers would remember and appreciate not just while they were in session but year-round. The dentists’ organization chose to provide what was at the time a cutting-edge product, an electric toothbrush system that would assist the legislators in maintaining their oral health.

Sonicare brand electric toothbrush units were purchased in bulk at a substantial discount and distributed every two years, during the sixty-day sessionsto legislators. In even-numbered years, one package containing two (2) replacement brushes for the electric toothbrush units the solons received during the previous year have been provided.

This year, the NM Dental Association paid $15.99 for each of the above-referenced packages of replacement tooth brushes, far less than it might have spent had it been inclined to have sponsored food, beverage or entertainment to our busy legislators. Most importantly, however, is the dentists’ desire for the legislators to be reminded to practice sound oral health care and hopefully, the electric toothbrush units and replacement brushes will assist the legislators in doing so.