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Maggie Toulouse Oliver

February 2, 2017

New Mexicans soon will have more insight into the private business dealings of their public officials.

The Secretary of State’s Office plans to post online later this month the latest finance reports filed by legislators and other top government officials.

Publishing the mandatory reports online is a shift in policy for the office. It stopped posting the filings in 2012 under then-Secretary of State Dianna Duran, a Republican who later resigned from office before pleading guilty to felony corruption charges.

Members of the public had to request the forms from the office and potentially pay copying fees or visit the Capitol to review the documents in person.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said during her campaign last year that she would support posting the forms on the office’s website again.

And this week, as the deadline for the annual reports neared, her office announced it will post the new filings online this month. It also plans to post archived reports in coming months.

Advocates for government transparency applauded the move.

“The secretary of state’s decision is welcome news, and we encourage other public agencies to follow her lead and boost transparency across all levels of government,” said Peter St. Cyr, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

State law requires that legislators and officials in statewide office file financial disclosure reports each January. The law also requires annual disclosure reports from candidates for public office, the heads of state agencies, members of boards or commissions who must be confirmed by the state Senate and members of the insurance nominating committee.

The reports require each official to list an array of information about his or her own finances and the finances of his or her spouse.

Though the public will have easier access to the reports, the Secretary of State’s Office has done little in the recent past to ensure the documents are accurate or complete.

Investigators say Demesia Padilla, the state’s former top tax official who stepped down in December amid a criminal investigation, failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in income she earned working a side job while serving in the governor’s Cabinet.

A report last month by the group New Mexico Ethics Watch described the state’s financial disclosure requirements as “woefully weak.”

Contact Andrew Oxford at 505-986-3093 or aoxford@sfnewmexican.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewboxford.