New Mexico Passes First Public Financing Fix With Bipartisan Support

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  • Dale Eisman

Common Cause New Mexico Urges Governor Martinez to Sign Bill Quickly

The New Mexico House took a critical step to clean up state elections today, passing S.16 The Voter Action Act by a vote of 68-0.

S. 16 helps replace with matching public funds the trigger funds that were struck down by the Supreme Court in the 2011 decision Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett. Before the decision, publicly financed candidates who faced high spending opponents or were victims of independent expenditure could get additional funds, or trigger funds to combat that spending.

S.16 will allow candidates who run for the Public Regulation Commission and in judicial races under New Mexico’s public financing program to raise additional small donor contributions and get a four to one match for those contributions.

“We are pleased the bill passed unanimously through the House Voters and Elections Committee (10-0) and House Judiciary Committee (11-0) and with strong bipartisan support today. A broad coalition of groups, including LWV, AAUW, Native American Voters Alliance, South West Organizing Project support this measure as did the Attorney General Gary King and Secretary of State Dianna Duran. We are grateful to Sen. Peter Wirth for his leadership on this issue and we are hopeful that Gov. Martinez will sign this into law,” said Common Cause New Mexico Executive Director Viki Harrison.

The Voter Action Act will not cost the state any additional money as the caps on funding remain unchanged. The bill also does not expand the state’s current public financing system. S.16 passed the Senate on February 28, 33-7.

“If Gov. Martinez signs S.16 into law, New Mexico will be a trailblazer in strengthening its public financing proposal after the Supreme Court struck down trigger provisions in Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The Common Cause-supported bill had broad, bipartisan support and will allow candidates who run in competitive campaigns to raise small dollar contributions from individuals and get a four to one match,” he added.

The bill now heads Gov. Martinez, who has 20 days to act.

Common Cause New Mexico is dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process.