Friday, July 20, 2012

Federal Campaign Finance Reforms Blocked--New Mexico Efforts Continue

This week the U.S. Senate halted efforts to advance legislation that would require independent groups to disclose the names of contributors who give more than $10,000 to independent groups for use in political campaigns. The measure, known as the DISCLOSE Act, (“Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”) was drafted in response to the 2010 Citizens United ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court said that corporate campaign donations are a form of free speech and cannot be limited by government.

In a letter to the Governor before the last Session of the Legislature, Attorney General King stated: “Many of us are concerned that under current U. S. Supreme Court interpretations, there may be many so-called independent groups, corporations, non profits or others that will seek to expend substantial sums of money to influence elections without making fair disclosure of the sources of their funds.  We do not believe that is in the public interest, and we firmly believe that requiring full and fair disclosure of the funding sources for all electioneering materials and expenditures is fully consistent with and authorized by the U. S. Supreme Court in the well known Citizens United decision, as well as other court precedent.”

AG King then proffered legislation that creates campaign disclosure requirements for third parties that campaign for or against political candidates in New Mexico. Unfortunately, the measure did not make it through the legislative process at that time. Not one to give up, the AG will try again in the next Session to enact a good, strong bipartisan supported law requiring disclosure of election campaign contribution funds.  Unfortunately, to the detriment of political funding transparency, what AG King predicted about the explosive growth of secret big-money electioneering has already come true in our state.

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