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Money & Influence 01.28.2024

Albuquerque Journal (Op-Ed): NM elected officials still under the influence of alcohol industry

The alcohol industry is at it again. For three decades the industry, its powerful lobbyists and its allies in the hospitality industry have been successful in staving off increases in the state’s alcohol excise tax with arguments about how even a modest increase will hurt restaurants and local breweries. Increased prices for alcohol won’t result in less drinking anyhow, they say. The argument was most recently echoed in an Albuquerque Journal editorial. Meanwhile New Mexico is No. 1 nationwide in alcohol-related deaths and alcohol now accounts for one in five deaths of working age New Mexicans. Treatment programs are hard to come by, and not only families are paying the price. A recent study by the UNM Department of Economics says that excessive alcohol consumption costs New Mexicans $2.77 per drink in the form of crime, domestic violence, DWI and Medicaid payments.

The Oregonian: Former OLCC board chair lands pot job

Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon, a grassroots, nonpartisan organization that works to strengthen and advance democracy, said Révoal's leap into the industry that he up until recently regulated raises questions. "Democracies die when we erode ethics norms," she said. "It's not just a matter of following the letter of the law. It's about keeping clear, bright lines between working for the public interest and working for one's own private interest."

Yahoo! News/The Hill: Lobbying World

Virginia Kase Solomón will be the next president and CEO of Common Cause. Currently CEO of the League of Women Voters, she will start her new role in February and will be the first Hispanic person to lead the democratic watchdog. She succeeds Karen Hobert Flynn, who died this spring after three decades with the organization.

Money & Influence 12.17.2023

Los Angeles Times/Tribune News: Environmentalists investing in Big Oil? Inside the surprising stock portfolios of California lawmakers

“A lot of these people tell their constituents what they think they want to hear even if they don’t necessarily believe in it or they’re not doing necessarily what’s in the best interest of the public, but themselves,” said Sean McMorris, who focuses on transparency, ethics and accountability at California Common Cause, a government watchdog group.

Money & Influence 12.9.2023

Santa Fe New Mexican (Editorial): Increase the alcohol tax and save lives: It's that simple

It’s no wonder New Mexico hasn’t raised the excise tax on alcohol over the past 40 years. A report from citizens’ interest group Common Cause New Mexico lays out just why legislators are so reluctant to tax alcohol, both as a means of raising revenue and to reduce drinking. Called “Still Under the Influence,” the report successfully — as it intends — “connects the dots” from contributions to policy outcome. In 2023 alone, liquor lobbyists spent $74,968 on entertaining and wining and dining legislators, according to the Common Cause report. These are not campaign contributions. These are just dollars to grease the gears of government, and liquor lobbyists ensure there is plenty of grease. Their force showed during the 2023 session, when yet another attempt to increase the excise tax on liquor failed. It’s past time to act, with what has always been a crisis in New Mexico growing more acute. The Common Cause New Mexico report is clear: “Between 2019 and 2021, the state’s alcohol-related death rate increased by 31 percent.”

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