Consider this: between 2005 and 2012, political action committees [PACs] spent a staggering $45 million on political campaigns in the state, according to a newly released report by the good government nonprofit, Common Cause New Mexico. That’s enough money to pay for a year’s worth of tuition and fees at the University of New Mexico for 7,438 undergraduates.

But since the US Supreme Court opened the door for unions and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of cash on elections, so long as that spending is not coordinated with a candidate, and those entities took full advantage of the invitation to pour millions in cash into the form of institutionalized gambling that is election spending.

"Our research shows a dramatic increase in spending from out-of-state PACs, a shift away from party-centric PACs, and layers upon layers of concealed funders through PACto-PAC contributions," the organization states, noting that in many cases the true identity of contributors is effectively concealed.

The amount of contributions from outside New Mexico increased from about $2.2 million in 2005-06 to roughly $5.4 million in 2011-12. From 2009-12, most of that cash came from Washington DC and Texas, according to the report.

The report is also missing spending by 501(c)4 nonprofits, so-called "dark money" groups. A bill from Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, aims to fix that loophole. But don't expect the state to be able to limit campaign money: A federal appeals court recently ruled that a district court was correct in issuing an injunction against a New Mexico law that sought to limit contributions to certain political committees.

The ruling cited the Citizens United ruling—which we're sure you can study in college.
(Justin Horwath)