Guv OKs consideration of campaign reform

Gov. Susana Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez

Gov. Susana Martinez will allow lawmakers to consider bills related to fixing New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act during the session that begins next week.

Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said today that Martinez won’t propose specific legislation but will “message election reform broadly to allow discussion of campaign finance-related legislation” during the 30-day session that starts Tuesday.

30-day sessions are designed for budgetary issues. To be considered, other topics need to be allowed by the governor.

With the 2012 election in full swing, addressing the situation is urgent. As reported in October, recent court decisions have rendered the state’s campaign-finance law “unenforceable,” in the words of one good-government activist. The issues:

  • The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has deemed New Mexico’s definition of a political committee “constitutionally infirm.” That happened in 2010 when the 10th Circuit upheld a lower court’s rejection of an attempt by the secretary of state and attorney general to force two nonprofits to register as political committees.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case means states can no longer limit the size of donations being spent on independent expenditures, so New Mexico’s law limiting such donations isn’t constitutional. Last week, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of state limits on financial contributions to be used in federal campaigns and for independent expenditures in state races.  A state GOP lawsuit seeking to permanently undo those and other parts of the state’s contribution-limits law is pending.

At the very least, activists say disclosure laws need beefed up to ensure the public knows who’s spending money on campaigns.


Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, is among the lawmakers working to address the situation. In last year’s regular legislative session, he sponsored a bill that would have amended the Campaign Reporting Act to require disclosure of independent expenditures, rewrite the definition of “political committee,” and tweak the law in other ways. It passed the Senate but died in the House.

Wirth plans to try again this year.

Darnell has said Martinez “believes strongly that the public has a right to know who is funding political campaigns and has always gone above and beyond in disclosing contributors,” and that she “is willing to work with anyone sincerely committed to improving our campaign finance laws to ensure that the voices of candidates and political parties are not drowned out by special interest groups operating in secret.”

But the governor isn’t putting her weight behind campaign-related legislation from Wirth or anyone else, at least right now.

Martinez backing sunshine bills

Though she’s currently staying on the sidelines in the discussion about campaign reform, Martinez is backing a pair of government transparency proposals that she will allow to be considered during the session:

  • Rep. Jim Smith, R-Sandia Park, is sponsoring legislation that would require that agendas for public meetings be posted online and made available at least 72 hours beforehand.
  • Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, is sponsoring a bill that would make clear in law that the names of classified state employees will be included in the sunshine portal – though Martinez’s administration has already done that without the law explicitly allowing it.

11 thoughts on “Guv OKs consideration of campaign reform

  1. Qui Tam:
    Stop accusing me of “supporting criminals”; disagreeing with blanket statements that you refuse to prove is not a criminal act, knee-jerk questioning of the ethics and integrity of people who you know nothing about is the act of someone who lacks the maturity to be an effective participant in substantive issues, and getting offended when someone points out that using an anonymous internet persona to call out specific elected representatives whom you have no guarantee are even going to read what you’ve written isn’t exactly engagement.

  2. Professional politicians like Wirth and Egolf, and some others, are doing the job their money backers and idealogical supporters want them to do.  To push their agenda, they do as the people who fund their campaigns want them to do, nothing unusual about that.  Do they represent or listen to other views?  Of course not, they are not paid to do that, they only do as they are told by those that keep them in office with the big bucks.  To hear them arguing against “money in politics” is too ludicrous to even comment about, they know it will make no difference in their political money game.

  3. IcarusPhoenix – as a taxpayer, I am a constituent. Trust me, I am not anonymous to those who matter. It, however, is completely astounding that you continue to argue on behalf of criminals. But that, in itself, reveals your character. Good luck when you become a victim, which I hope you do not, of those very criminals. 🙂

  4. Qui Tam:
    There’s a difference between a actual constituents and completely anonymous names on the internet; engaging with the former is part of his job.  Engaging with the latter can at best lead to a zero-sum gain, and has a remarkable possibility of leading to a pointless and unproductive conversation that detracts from doing his job… particularly when dealing with an anonymous screenname that has a notorious bad habit of treating even mild disagreement on issues (or, for that matter, any desire to even discuss issues other than those that particular anonymous screenname obsesses over) as a personal attack.  Thus, I ask you; what on earth makes you think that you have demonstrated yourself to be worth Representative Wirth’s time in your current faceless form?  More often than not, you simply come across as a faceless version of those Tea Partiers who used to go to town halls to shout down members of Congress in whose districts they didn’t even live.

  5. I for one like watching my elected representative participating with constituents, I find it informative and the true essence of doing one’s job. I think it shows courage, honesty, backbone, and a true desire to preform one’s duties. The question you might ask yourself IcarusPhoenix is how and why you spend your time like you do.

  6. Or, rather than making the amateur mistake of wasting time to reply to anonymous words on the internet, Senator Wirth could instead spend the time doing his job.

  7. How about upholding the laws already on the books?

    Or at least finding someone who will?

    Great initiative Senator Wirth and Governor Martinez. May I suggest a task force be formed to carefully scrutinize the campaign contributions and fundraisers of all current political candidates? How about doing an extensive search going back to 1995, with all findings posted on a specific website? And might I suggest that if criminal activity is found to have occured, let that body of evidence circumvent AG King and be forwarded to an entity that actually prosecutes crimes.

    Thank you for your time and attention to these grave matters. 

  8. I notice that the bills she is supporting are both sponsored by Republicans.  Where’s the “compromise?”  Not that those two bills are necessarily bad.