Still Under the Influence — CCNM’s Report on the Alcohol Industry

CCNM has compiled a 'Connect the Dots' report examining the alcohol industry, its lobby, and its influence on New Mexico's elected officials.


A Look at the Alcohol Industry and Its Influence on New Mexico Elected Officials

A Connect the Dots Report from Common Cause New Mexico

Summary of Key Findings

The alcohol industry’s spent $2.62 million on political activities from 2013-spring of 2023, which included:

  • $807,011 in contributions to candidates from the alcohol industry including alcohol companies, retail outlets, distributors, breweries, wineries and affiliated individuals
  • $1,179,056 contributed by industry lobbyists to legislators and statewide candidates
  • $456,388 spent by industry to wine and dine policymakers
  • $180,795 spent by industry PACS and Allied Organizations, including the NM Restaurant Association
  • From 2013-2023 (spring) the largest contributions came from Anheuser-Busch ($305,580), Premier Distributing ($163,629) and Admiral Beverage Corporation ($93,251). Smaller contributions came from Marble Brewery ($11,000), Chama River Brewing Company ($6,336) and Casa Rodeña Winery ($6,200).
  • During the 2020-2022 election cycle, alcohol companies, PACs, lobbyists and allies contributed $591,491 to legislative and statewide candidates. The largest recipient was Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who got $198,853.
  • In the 2022 election cycle the New Mexico Brewers Guild gave more than $8,400 in campaign contributions ($4,000 of which went to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.) In contrast, during the same election cycle, Anheuser-Busch contributed more than $90,000.
  • In 2023 alone, liquor lobbyists spent $74,968 on entertainment, meals and refreshments for legislators. The highest single expenditure by a lobbyist came in February when contract lobbyist Marco Gonzales spent $7,571 on a dinner at the Palace Prime for the House Government Elections and Indian Affairs Committee and committee staffers.
  • Top statewide recipients from 2013-2023 were Michelle Lujan Grisham, Susana Martinez and Raul Torrez. Top legislative recipients for the same period were former Rep. Nate Gentry, Rep. Patty Lundstrom and Rep. Doreen Gallegos.
  • In the 10-year period studied, lobbyists contributed more than $478,016 to leadership on both sides of the aisle, as well as to the chairs of committees to which the tax measures were likely to be referred.
  • The industry also gave $167,603 to partisan PACs from 2013-2023. 61.8% went to Democrats and their PACs; 37.6% went to Republicans.

Legislative History of Alcohol Measure

Approximately 1,000 alcohol-related measures have been introduced since 1990.

  • 141 bills effecting alcohol excise taxes have been introduced since 1990. Only 16 of these became law, and only one was a meaningful tax increase.
  • Between 1990 and 1998 36 bills to ban drive-up liquor windows were introduced before a ban was finally passed in 1998.

Summary of Public Heath Findings

  • New Mexico is ranked highest in the nation for alcohol related deaths, and the death rate is going up.
  • From 2017-2021 alcohol attributable deaths statewide rose 47% and now account for one in five deaths of working age New Mexicans.
  • A state Department of Health study estimated that in 2018, the latest year for which figures were available, that 101,012 New Mexicans were living with an alcohol use disorder, with 73,178 unable to get treatment.
  • In 2010, the Center from Disease Control estimated the cost of excessive drinking at $2.2 billion. That’s over $1,084 per New Mexican, paid for by both drinkers and non-drinkers. Now, with the increase in deaths, the estimated price tag is estimated at $6 billion.
  • A recent study by the University of New Mexico Department of Economics says “Research finds that excessive alcohol consumption costs New Mexicans $2.77 per drink … These costs include deaths, other health costs, underage drinking, and drinking while pregnant. There are other social costs: crime, domestic violence, traffic accidents, etc. … So, while the $2.77 estimate is high – it is the highest among the U.S. states – the total social cost is much higher.”
  • Increasing the alcohol excise tax is the best way to decrease excessive drinking, according to the CDC and other health experts.
  • In Maryland and Alaska, states that have increased alcohol taxes, excessive drinking has gone down.

A Summary of Recommendations

Curbing the Influence of Insiders

  • When legislators or public officials leave their positions, require a two-year moratorium before they may be compensated as lobbyists.
  • Require recusal by legislators when family members are lobbying bills on which legislators must vote. Currently, it is a rare occurrence when a legislator asks to be recused from a vote.
  • Provide a salary for legislators to reduce dependence on lobbyists’ largesse when it comes to meals and other expenses incidental to public service.


  • Lobbyists should be required to identify what legislation they’re working on. They also should have to state whether they support or oppose such bills.
  • Lobbyist employers should be required to disclose how much they are paying their lobbyists.
  • All votes in legislative committees on motions to table should be recorded and made available to the public.
  • Improve the Secretary of State website to allow easier navigation and search of businesses and individuals’ campaign contributions.

Improving Legislative Process

  • The legislative website must be improved to make committee hearings consistently audible, without lapses and crashes.
  • Substitute bills and amendments must be posted in time for citizen input, and adequate review by legislators.
  • Additional staff to assist in dissemination and analysis is needed, as well as longer sessions to ensure that leg­islators and the public are fully informed on important tax, finance or other complex bills.


  • Improve the Secretary of State’s (SOS) new website to allow searches of campaign contributors. On the old website, you could look up individuals and businesses to check their contributions, but this is not possible in the new system.
  • The SOS office should ensure compliance with existing law through more spot checks or au­dits of lobbyist registrations and reports, and cross checks between contributions received by candidates and contributions given by donors. This will require the SOS to fill vacant positions and seek more funding from the legislature.
  • SOS must enforce the requirement for lobbyists to identify which client is funding campaign contributions and expenditures like meals and beverages.

The complete report, along with master charts and spreadsheets can be found at

For more information contact: Dede Feldman, Common Cause, 505-220-5958; or Steve Terrell, 505-470-9823;

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard as equals in the political process.