Thursday, March 3, 2011

Think NM Ethics Bill Makes it Out of First Committee

House Bill 604, which would ban political contributions from people who contract with state government cleared its first hurdle this morning, getting a 10-1 vote for do-pass from the House Voters and elections Committee.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe and Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

A similar bill last year passed the House but collapsed and died in the weird labyrinth known as the New Mexico State Senate.

A news release from Think New Mexico says "The bill would bar registered lobbyists and major government contractors (those seeking or holding contracts worth $50,000 or more) from making political contributions to candidates for state public office. The bill would also increase transparency and accountability in election spending by requiring that anyone – including nonprofit organizations, unions, and corporations – that engages in political advocacy must report and disclose the sources of the funds used for that advocacy."

The question is even if the bill becomes law, would a court strike down the provision that require non-profits to report contributors? So far the one case in which the state tried to get non-profits to disclose was thwarted by federal courts.