By Steve Terrell: The Santa Fe New Mexican
Several state farm and ranch organizations on Thursday hosted their annual “Growing For You” dinner in the Rotunda of the Capitol, dishing out free plates of meat, vegetables, ice cream sandwiches and bags of salted peanuts to lawmakers, staff, lobbyists, building personnel, reporters, visitors and anyone else willing to stand in line.
It’s an annual event during a legislative session to which many look forward and nobody is turned away.
However, most food and drink handed out by lobbying organizations are held in more private places and have far more exclusive guest lists.
Many say there has been less wining and dining of legislators during this year’s session in which there’s far less state money up for grabs. However, the few lobbyist expense reports that have come in during the last three weeks show at least some lobbyists still are picking up the tab for lawmakers.
While the Legislature is in session, lobbyists are required by law to report expenditures larger than $500 within 48 hours of the spending.
Here’s a look at the some of the reports to come in as of Thursday afternoon:
• Martin Trujillo of Farmer’s Insurance spent $2,590 on Feb. 10 on a legislative breakfast at the Inn at Loretto, plus $286 on lapel pins and name badges.
• J.D. Bullington, lobbyists for several businesses and organizations, spent $1,446 last month for a dinner at the Old House restaurant for a group that included three legislators — Reps. Kenny Martinez, D-Grants; Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces; and Keith Gardner, R-Roswell.
• Leland Gould of Western Refining Inc. spent $513 on meals and beverages for several legislators and state officials. Among Gould’s guests were Reps. Al Park, Mo Maestas and Ed Sandoval and Bill Rehm, all Albuquerque Democrats, and state Auditor Hector Balderas.