Everyone has a right to know who is trying to influence our views and our representatives.

A 21st century democracy requires strong transparency and disclosure laws so everyone knows who is funding political campaigns. Secret money in elections is unacceptable and undemocratic.

The need for heightened transparency has never been more urgent, as millions of dollars from anonymous sources flood into elections around the country. In New Mexico, we see out-of-state special interests investing unprecedented amounts of money in every election — from statewide races to local ballot initiatives.

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision brought huge sums of money into our politics. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in that decision and others, has also upheld the need for disclosure.

Common Cause New Mexico is working to pass constitutional disclosure laws in New Mexico. It is essential that we restore the Campaign Reporting Act (CRA) and adapt the CRA to modern methods of campaigning.

  1. Restore the enforceability of the Campaign Reporting Act (CRA) — Since the CRA was enacted, the courts have developed restrictions on the authority of governments to regulate campaign speech. Under these rules, several key provisions of the CRA have been invalidated by the courts.
  2. Adapt the CRA to modern methods of campaigning — Additionally, there are now numerous national and local independent groups participating in state elections in a variety of ways, ranging from campaign ads coordinated with candidates to an occasional ad mentioning a public official who is running for re-election.

Recent Developments
In 2017, the New Mexico state legislature passed a bill to shed a light on dark money in our elections. Unfortunately, however, the governor vetoed the bill and it was not signed into law.

Since then, the Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State has taken action through rules and regulations to provide important definitions and enforceable provisions to shore up some of the loopholes in the CRA. Rules clarifying campaign reporting requirements for PACs and independent spenders were passed, giving voters the right to know who is behind the huge independent expenditures expected in the 2018 elections.

The rule also defines “coordinated” expenditure and “independent” PAC to cover groups that have eluded reporting requirements by claiming they are non-political. The biggest beneficiary of the new regulations will be the public, which will be able to follow the money behind candidates and issues on the ballot. But more still needs to be done to shed a light on money in our elections.


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