Tis the Season, a Money-in-Politics Reform Wish List

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New Mexico’s campaign finance system is broken, and KOB is just the latest in a series of media outlets to point it out.

It’s why the state gets a D- when it comes to integrity.

But it’s the season to make our gift lists. And New Mexico In Depth offers up its list to state’s lawmakers:

Require more frequent filing by candidates and PACS, quarterly in off years and every two weeks in the 60 days before an election. This will give the public a better sense of where the money is coming from and where it’s being spent.

Require specific filings for independent expenditures in campaigns. Include what was purchased – mailings, radio ads, robocalls – and who the expenditure supported or opposed. Citizens deserve to know who is behind that message.

Require political action committees to report what races they’re spending on.

Require campaigns to list the employer of donors, not just their occupation. That way, New Mexicans can connect the dots when large businesses and their employees are contributing.

Improve the Secretary of State’s campaign finance website so it’s easier to search for information. Make bulk downloads of all the data available, so anyone can follow the money.

Require lobbyists to list the bills they’re lobbying on for which client and what their position is.

Require lobbyists to list the client who is writing the check to lawmakers. Some lobbyists do this, but others don’t. As NMID and KOB have pointed out, it’s difficult to follow the money if reports conceal the true donor.

Require lobbyists to detail their spending on lawmakers. A lobbyist can buy plenty of food and drink for $75 per legislator, making the current disclosure limit a joke. Some lobbyists manage to report each and every expense on a legislator. They all should.

Require employers to disclose what they’re paying their lobbyists. Other states do it. The federal government does it. Why can’t New Mexico?

Once you beef up the law, enforce it. In the Center for Public Integrity’s 2015 State Integrity Project, of all 50 states, New Mexico had the biggest “enforcement gap.” That’s the difference between its laws (some of which are quite effective) and the way they’re enforced (which critics say is sometimes not at all). For too long, politicians (we’re looking at you, Phil Griego, along with others) and lobbyists have cruised along, knowing that no one was looking to0 closely at campaign finance reports. It’s time for that to end. Groups like Common Cause New Mexico and others have pushed for an independent ethics commission or a quasi-independent investigative unit with teeth in the Secretary of State’s office. Do something.

These are our wishes for a New Year in New Mexico.

What are yours? Share them in the comments.

One thought on “Tis the Season, a Money-in-Politics Reform Wish List

  1. Wish? list. I’m sorry but, bullshit.

    Since when is the will of the people a wish list for those who represent them; those who wield power and spend resources entrusted to them but that still belong fundamentally to the people. The terms of public in-servitude are prerogative of the people, not of their servants. Since when do you wish servants do what you want them to do?

    Write a bill that reforms government, carry it to Santa Fe, insist* that it be passed into law. There is no reason not to demand immediately, government that is as transparently accountable to the people as it will ever be. What are we waiting for?

    *Give the people something to show up for, and they will.

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