Thursday, January 29, 2015

Public Campaign Financing for Legislative Candidates

Senator Peter Wirth and Representative Miguel Garcia have introduced bills to expand the public campaign financing system to include legislative candidates.

These companion bills would take the existing Voter Action Act and apply it to New Mexico's legislative districts just as it does for state PRC districts, with money allocated proportionally to the number of voters in the district, for both primary and general elections.

An elected official who used public campaign financing will feel accountable to the public at large, unlike an official who relied on big money contributions from special interests.

This system all but eliminates big money from elections. But problems remain, especially with the rise of dark money groups and the unlimited, unreported fundraising and spending that happens in the wake of the Supreme Court's faulty Citizens United decision.

The long term solution is a federal Constitutional amendment clarifying that money is not speech and corporations are not people.

In the short term, let's keep taking steps towards cleaner and more civil campaigns. SB 259 and HB 205 are good bills, and the legislature should pass them.

After all, they have already determined that Public Regulation Commissioners and Judges should make decisions uninfluenced by campaign contributions. Isn't that equally true for our lawmakers?

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