Trip Jennings

Arianna Sena

Lost in the drama of Saturday was the death of legislation that would have exposed so-called "dark money” groups to more public scrutiny.

The cause of death?

Late-session disagreements and wariness in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Robert Smith via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Guy Bowers imagines his phone ringing off the hook if New Mexico were to return to the days of contributors giving unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.

taberandrew via Flickr

Five of the six senators who opposed legislation to cap what lenders can charge borrowers on certain types of loans took thousands of dollars in campaign money from the industry in 2013 and 2014, state records show.

frankieleon via Flickr

Storefront lending companies and affiliated associations gave nearly $140,000 to New Mexico public officials and political action committees in 2013 and 2014, according to an analysis of data from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office.

The bulk of that -- $115,805 -- went to dozens of elected officials, including Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, Democratic Attorney General Hector Balderas and more than half of the members of the New Mexico Legislature, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Weeks after taking office, new Attorney General Hector Balderas released on Thursday the remainder of the 2013 audit of 15 New Mexico behavioral health agencies, albeit with some redactions.

audit screen shot

A Massachusetts firm that audited 15 health organizations in New Mexico last year normally gives companies it’s scrutinizing a chance to respond before issuing official findings.

It is a common practice for auditors. Running the findings by staff gives organizations the opportunity to refute findings or address misunderstandings. It’s a way of ensuring the accuracy of an audit, among other things.

Rubén Diaz Alonso via Flickr

A state agency citing potential Medicaid fraud refused to consider documents that could have cleared a health care provider of allegations that it had overcharged the government by as much as $4.3 million, the organization’s officials said this week. 

publik15 via Flickr

Dear Senators Bill O’Neill and Jerry Ortiz y Pino:

We at New Mexico In Depth were a bit confused - befuddled might be a better word - at your press release yesterday. It bears the title “Media Scrutiny Finally Gives Behavioral Health Debacle the Investigation Warranted” and begins with this line:

Bryant Furlow / New Mexico In Depth

Last year, the state’s Human Resources Department said an audit had helped find “credible allegations of fraud” against 15 New Mexico health organizations offering services such as drug addiction treatment and suicide counseling. Though HSD kept the audit secret — from the public and the organizations themselves — the department asserted the audit's findings justified suspending Medicaid funding for the organizations.

The audit the state used to justify suspending Medicaid payments to an Alamogordo health center last year appears to have included mistakenly flagged claims, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

That raises questions about the process the Human Services Department (HSD) used to ensure the audit was accurate before deciding to suspend Medicaid dollars to the Alamogordo organization.

A portion of an audit released Friday by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office with many details blacked out shed little light on why the state froze Medicaid payments to 15 New Mexico behavioral health providers.

At the same time, the 58-page document raised tantalizing questions.