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Politics Notebook: Governor’s communications director leaves

SANTA FE – With Gov. Susana Martinez entering her final seven months in office, there’s been ample turnover in her office.

That continued Friday, when Martinez’s communications director Larry Behrens worked his last day in the Governor’s Office, a spokesman confirmed.

Behrens, who previously served as the governor’s federal affairs coordinator and worked in the Public Education Department under then-Secretary Hanna Skandera, was Martinez’s fourth communications director since the Republican governor took office in 2011.

He took over as communications director from Chris Sanchez about a year ago. Sanchez had held the job for more than two years.

High levels of turnover are common in a governor’s final year on job, and Martinez will step down at the end of this year. She’s constitutionally barred from seeking a third consecutive term in office. Other top Governor’s Office staffers have also departed in recent months.

In a statement, Martinez called Behrens a “valuable member” of her team, adding, “His quick wit and excellent skills as a communicator will be greatly missed.”

With Behrens’ departure, Ben Cloutier will take over as the governor’s communications director.

Behrens had been making a salary of roughly $92,000 annually. The Governor’s Office did not respond to questions about where he’s headed next.

NEW DATABASE: Almost nine months after adopting a new campaign finance disclosure rule, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver has launched a new public database for tracking independent political expenditures.

Under the rules adopted last fall, groups active in New Mexico campaigns – but not coordinating with candidates – are required to disclose their significant donors if they spend more than $7,500 on any mailer or other type of advertisement on a statewide race or ballot measure.

That threshold is lower for races or ballot measures that are not statewide, including legislative races.

New Mexico already requires candidates and political committees to file reports disclosing the identities of all their donors, regardless of contribution size.

As of Friday, no groups had filed reports on the database, but that could change in the coming days with New Mexico’s primary election less than a week away.

Dan Boyd: dboyd@abqjournal.com

 

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