I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Heinrich mum on work history
ALBUQUERQUE — The campaign of Democratic congressional candidate Martin Heinrich remained mum today on whether it would provide information regarding his work as a consultant from 2002-05, leaving unanswered the question whether he broke state and federal lobbying laws.
Campaign spokeswoman Angela Barranco did not respond to the Independent’s questions about releasing information on Heinrich’s work history, which had been raised earlier by the Republican Party of New Mexico and by Heinrich’s Republican opponent in the race for Congressional District 1, Darren White.
Heinrich has said that while he did advocate on behalf of environmental causes, he didn’t need to register because he never was paid enough to meet the registration requirements. Nor did he seek legal advice on the matter, he told The Albuquerque Journal today. “I’ve worked with 501(c)3 (nonprofit organizations) for many years. I know the limitations of the law.”
But until Heinrich releases information about what work he did, for whom and how much he was paid, it is unclear whether he broke the law, as the GOP has suggested. Among the questions the Independent had hoped to ask were: What years did Heinrich actively “advocate” and for what issues? Where did this advocacy occur — in Santa Fe, Washington, D.C., elsewhere? What percentage of his work pertained to such advocacy, and how much was he paid for it?
While some voters might argue there are more important questions facing the two candidates for CD1, it can also be argued that adherence to the law is a key element of a candidate’s character. Heinrich has already admitted he operated his business, Heinrich Consulting, for at least three years without a city business license.
New Mexico has a stricter definition of lobbying than does the federal government. State regulations define as a lobbyist “any individual who is compensated for the specific purpose of lobbying; is designated by an interest group or organization to represent it on a substantial or regular basis for the purpose of lobbying; or in the course of his employment is engaged in lobbying on a substantial or regular basis.”
But there are a number of exceptions, including one that might apply to Heinrich: “an individual who provides only oral or written public testimony in connection with a legislative committee or in a rulemaking proceeding and whose name and the interest on behalf of which he testifies have been clearly and publicly identified.”
Federal laws are much broader, according to Lobbyinginfo.org, an arm of the nonpartisan group Public Citizen. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 defines a lobbyist as anyone who is paid $5,000 or more in a six-month period, makes at least one lobbying contact and spends 20 percent of his time during that same period lobbying for an organization or particular client.
“Unless each of these criteria is met, there is no registration requirement for that individual,” the group notes. And while a person can be fined up to $50,000 for “knowingly failing to comply” with the lobbying laws, the regulations are rarely enforced, it says.