NM State Senator Introduces Bill to Strengthen Public Financing, Disclosure Laws

Albuquerque Business First (12/23): “Wirth’s bill, SB58, is 20 pages long and would make a litany of changes to New Mexico’s public-financing and spending-disclosure regulations. It would prohibit unopposed candidates from collecting funds, bar the use of campaign funds to compensate candidates or their families and give matching funds on small contributions to publicly-financed candidates who are outspent by privately-financed candidates.

“The bill also provides a definition for ‘coordination,’ something currently lacking in state law. Nonprofits are currently required to disclose the source of funds spent in coordination with electoral campaigns, but the law provides no guidance as to what constitutes coordination. Wirth’s bill provides a simple fix, defining ‘coordinated expenduture’ as ‘a campaign expenditure by a person other than a candidate’s campaign that is made at the direction or request of, or in cooperation, consultation or concert with, that candidate’s campaign or any agent or representative of that candidate’s campaign.'”


NM, AR MO, CT, ME Most Likely Places to Seek Reform

Huffington Post:

New Mexico: Outside Spending & Coordination

“New Mexico was one of the worst-prepared states for the altered campaign finance landscape wrought by the Citizens United decision. The state’s laws had no legal definition or standard for either independent expenditures or coordination between an independent group and a candidate or party committee. And, like every other state, New Mexico did not require disclosure of donors to nonprofits active in electoral politics.”

Arkansas: Ethics & Disclosure

“Arkansas voters this year passed a ballot initiative with significant campaign finance and ethics reforms, including a total ban on direct corporate contributions to candidate campaigns. The state-level reform group Regnat Populus hopes to build on this success with an initiative in 2016 to expand these reforms and enact new disclosure rules for independent groups.”

Missouri: Contribution Limits, Gifts & Disclosure

“These outsized contributions [from a Missouri mega-donor] that came after Missouri ended its campaign contribution limits are sparking action.

“Democratic lawyer Brad Ketcher said he will propose a constitutional amendment for the ballot that would re-establish contribution limits for legislative candidates, place limits on lobbyist gifts and impose strong coordination rules on independent spending.”

“The issue is gaining attention from Republicans as well. Republican state Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Jefferson City) introduced legislation to require disclosure of dark money spent by nonprofit groups on elections, ban lobbyist gifts and increase campaign finance disclosure.”

Maine & Connecticut: Public Financing

“In Maine, this means lawmakers would be allotted public funds in an amount appropriate to counteract the dramatic increase in independent spending since Citizens United. Maine Citizens for Clean Elections is working to get an initiative on the ballot in the next election.

“Connecticut legislators are expected to tackle similar fixes, according to groups involved in reform efforts.”

NM to Reduce Public Funding During Uncontested Races after Candidate Paid $10K to Lobbyist as Consultant During Such Race

Follow the link for other stories of spending by uncontested publicly financed candidates

Candidate for New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission Democrat Lynda “Lovejoy won a three-way race in the primary election but was unopposed in the general. She received $28,290 in public financing for the primary election and $27,574 for the general.”

“Also, after winning the primary election and before her uncontested election in the general, she paid more than $10,000 to campaign consultant and lobbyist Mark Fleisher of Albuquerque.”

“Fleisher’s lobbying clients this year include a telecommunications company regulated by the PRC. He has also represented a power company before the commission.”

State Sen. Peter Wirth, a major player in the Legislature on issues of campaign finance, says providing public financing to unopposed candidates doesn’t make sense to him.”

“Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat, says lawmakers can take a look at the issue as part of a larger overhaul of public financing of campaigns he plans to propose when the Legislature meets in January.”

“In a bid to reduce the influence of money in politics, the state has provided optional public financing to candidates for the PRC since 2006 and for candidates seeking election to the state Appeals and Supreme courts since 2008. Efforts in the Legislature to expand public financing to candidates for other statewide offices have failed.”