PACs and nonprofits fuel 2020 elections

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As is the case every year, the month or so before election day is one of the busiest of the year for both political contributions and spending. Voters begin to tune in, early and absentee voting starts, and candidates make their final pitches to the electorate. Political action committees (PACs) and other groups spend considerable amounts to influence election outcomes. This year, even with a raging pandemic, those dynamics have held.

Here are the top 20 groups raising money during the Third General Reporting Period, which covered October 6th – 27th.  Political action committees or independent expenditure groups have raised an aggregate sum of $8.3 million since June. Groups aligned with, controlled by, or predominantly funding Democratic candidates and causes are colored blue, while Republican candidates and causes are colored red. Non-partisan groups are colored yellow. 

But fundraising during the general election only captures some of the activity. 

PACs have been raising money since before the beginning of the general election period in June, and in total, have reported spending over $9.8 million since then. The following 20 groups are color coded to reflect support for Democratic campaigns (blue), Republican campaigns (red), or non-partisan campaigns (yellow).

Here are the overall figures for spending by the top 20 groups:

Topping the list are groups like Brian Egolf Speaker PAC, New Mexico Senate Democrats, and their Republican counterparts. These committees act as central fundraising bodies for maintaining or expanding the seats they hold in the state legislature, accepting large contributions from various PACs and private entities and then spending that money on behalf of their most needy members and candidates. 

Also notable are the number of outside Democratic aligned PACs raising large sums of money, including Better Future for New Mexico, New Mexico Workers for Progress, Patriot Majority for New Mexico, and Planned Parenthood, among others. These kinds of groups raise large sums of money for various liberal causes from both individuals, mega-donors and organized labor.

This kind of spending clearly dwarfs Republican PAC spending, but oftentimes, that’s because business entities contribute directly to Republican candidates. For example, New Mexico Ethics Watch reports that oil and gas entities spent $321,000 on political activities in October, with more than 68% going to Republican candidates, according to a recent press release.

This year, there’s also a quite large non-partisan effort by two groups in support of a constitutional amendment to make the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission an appointed rather than elected body.  The “Committee to Protect New Mexico Consumers” failed to disclose who funded their spending, but the group was incorporated by well-known environmental advocates, including Jon Goldstein of the Environmental Defense Fund and Noah Long of the Natural Resources Defense Council. During the general, the campaign finance disclosures of “Vote Yes to Reform the New Mexico PRC” show it’s supported by a myriad of liberal and environmental groups.

Adjustment: The amount of spending by the Committee to Protect New Mexico Consumers has been adjusted to remove a duplicated amount included in the data download provided on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.

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