Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article erroneously referred to IPRA as the "Information of Public Records Act." The mistake has been corrected.
The UNM Foundation has long been critiqued for its opaqueness. Now, a bill making its way through the New mexico Legislature is looking to change that.
would allow “organizations providing funds or property to governmental entities” to be accessed through the Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA), a transparency law that makes all public records in the state of New Mexico to be accessible upon request.
According to its , the UNM Foundation acts independently from the University, but has its operation budget provided by UNM. Since the Foundation is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization, the public cannot request any of its documents or records. If passed, HB 29 would make the Foundation and other organizations like it open to the public.
The bill’s only sponsor is Rep. Abbas Akhil (D-Albuquerque), but it has also received the support from Attorney General Hector Balderas and from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.
In 2017, the UNM Foundation was sued by journalist and blogger Daniel Libit, who runs the blog New Mexico Fishbowl, in order to challenge the Foundation’s assertion that they are exempt from IPRA laws.
More recently, the Foundation was involved in the New Mexico Attorney General’s (NMAG) investigation into former-UNM Athletics Director Paul Krebs. The NMAG’s report stated that Krebs wrote an anonymous $25,000 check to the Foundation in 2015 in order to cover some of the costs of the now-infamous Scotland golf trip. Larry Ryan, vice president of University Development at the Foundation, received the donation, but insists he did not know it was from Krebs.
Akhil pointed out some of the same issues in his official statement.
“Recent events have demonstrated the perils of opaque foundations enmeshed with public institutions,” Akhil said. “This bill will take steps to prevent further financial negligence like what occurred at UNM Athletics.”
The bill is currently sitting in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. It will need to be approved by the committee, the House and the Senate before it becomes law.