Attorney General Hector Balderas to Support Campaign Finance Disclosure Bill

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  • Viki Harrison

SB 278, sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith, will be heard tomorrow afternoon, Thursday Feb. 26, by the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee in Room 315.  The bill, which requires disclosure of donors to independent political action committees, picked up a new supporter this week – the Attorney General.  SB 384, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth, mirrors SB 278 in the Senate.

In a letter to the bill’s sponsors, AG Hector Balderas said, “We believe your bills will allow New Mexico laws to conform to U.S. Supreme Court and federal and other appellate court precedents that have addressed the parameters for campaign finance law reforms.  We believe strongly in the principle of full disclosure, and even the controversial decision in Citizens United affirmed the constitutionality of disclosure laws, which your bills effectively provide.”

HB 278 and SB 384 bring New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act into compliance with recent court decisions.  Common Cause New Mexico, along with the Attorney General’s office, has been working with the Secretary of State’s office on these constitutional problems as well as to ensure more transparency of the new type of contributions, which threaten to dwarf traditional campaigns.  

“The existing Campaign Reporting Act has significant constitutional problems, and we support reform of the act,” said Secretary of State Dianna Duran. “We are working with all of the parties to move forward.”

The two disclosure bills are in line with popular sentiment expressed in a recent poll, taken by Research and Polling for Common Cause New Mexico.  88% of respondents said they wanted independent political groups to report who their donors are and how their money is being spent on campaigns.  92% supported a requirement that all political contributions (from unions, corporations, non-profits, PACs and individuals) be made public.  The poll of 451 registered voters was taken in January and has a margin of error of 4.5%.