Free lunches earn business access to New Mexico lawmakers

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Companies clamoring for contracts on internet services and student testing are buying legislators free lunches at meetings about education policy. It’s a legal and a frequent practice that some people find unappetizing.

On Tuesday, Democratic and Republican state legislators and their policy staff enjoyed enchiladas, roast beef sandwiches, steak salads, and other entrees with soft drinks and sides “Sponsored by Comcast,” according to an agenda released by the Legislative Education Study Committee.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government says that as long as they are disclosed, it’s legal for companies to buy legislators lunches and give gifts.

“And then the public needs to ask ‘Why are they doing that?’ ” said Melanie Majors, the foundation’s executive director.

“If the industry didn’t want anything from the legislators, then why would they be providing them with lunches?” New Mexico Ethics Watch…

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