--2 GOP to challenge state campaign finance law
       
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GOP to challenge state campaign finance law

State party spokeswoman says the $5,000 limit 'ties our hands.'

October 10, 2011, 12:00 am
By Joey Peters

The Republican Party of New Mexico filed a lawsuit today charging that parts of the state's campaign finance law are unconstitutional. 

RPNM spokeswoman Annaliese Wiederspahn says the state law unfairly limits how much the national party can support the state party, and vice versa.

She mentions that in 2008, a year before the state law was passed, the RPNM received roughly $2.4 million from the Republican National Committee. State law would now limit that donation $5,000.

"It ties our hands from doing anything," Wiederspahn tells SFR.

As a precedent, she points to the controversial 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling from the US Supreme Court, which allows unlimited campaign spending from corporations and unions.

"This is very straightforward," she says. "It's about the First Amendment right to freedom of speech."

Several liberal nonprofits and Democrats, including President Obama, oppose the logic of the 5-4 ruling. Steve Allen, whose group Common Cause New Mexico is among them, points to one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the current case�Indiana-based James Bopp.

Bopp, a conservative activist, advised Citizen's United during it's successful lawsuit against the FEC. Bopp also recently advised New Mexico Turn Around, a right-leaning organization and plaintiff in the current suit, in a lawsuit against Albuquerque's campaign finance laws.

"He's made it his mission to completely dismantle the campaign finance laws in the United States that prevent our elections from being bought and sold to the highest bidder," Allen tells SFR.

But despite his opposition to the Citizen's United ruling, Allen sees at least part of the current lawsuit prevailing.

He says one section of it is technically accurate: that state law can't limit contributions from groups creating independent expenditures�or simply groups that aren't working directly with candidates. But Allen says there should be a limit. The lawsuit doesn't.

One thing both Common Cause and the GOP seem to agree on is how all contributions should be tracked and listed online. Allen says tracking donations should be on the top of Gov. Susana Martinez's agenda coming into the next legislative session.

The state law, which passed in 2009 with bipartisan support, limits individual donations to $5,000 for statewide candidates and $2,300 to non-statewide candidates. 

Read the full NMGOP complaint below:


RPNM Campaign Finance Limit Complaint
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