May 25, 2012

Special Interest Sweethearts: New Mexico

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Special Interest Sweethearts
Using Research From ProgressNow New Mexico,
KOB-TV Tracks Down State Legislators Who Are 100% Special Interest Funded

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Some elected officials fundraise solely from their constituents and neighbors. Some raise funds from small, individual donations and also take money from lobbyists, corporations and other special interests. But some of New Mexico’s legislators are 100% special interest funded – that is, these legislators fundraise exclusively from lobbyists, corporations, PACs, etc. – and have NEVER taken an individual donation from the citizens they represent. (Click here to see the 9 “Special Interest Sweethearts” ProgressNow New Mexico identified as having taken no money from individual contributors during the first half of 2012.)

KOB-TV tracked down these special interest sweethearts after an exhaustive review of campaign finance reports by ProgressNow New Mexico. KOB’s story investigates the career-long record of five different legislators who have funded their entire political careers with special interest dollars. Watch KOB this Wednesday (May 30th) at 10:00pm  as they release the names of the top offenders.PAt with Chris.jpg

“Some of our legislator’s campaign finance reports read like the side of a NASCAR race car,” says Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico. “These legislators seem to have given up on earning the support of voters who sent them to Santa Fe. Instead, they go back to the corporate trough for easy money – and that should leave us to question whose interests they are really representing when they cast their votes.”

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Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, the influx of special interest money into the American electoral system has skyrocketed, and New Mexico has not been immune. From the lowest halls of power to the highest, our politicians are being bought and paid for not by average, hard-working New Mexicans but, instead, by corporations, lobbyists, PACs, etc. In fact, a recent front-page article in the ABQ Journal detailed how Governor Susana Martinez’s super-PAC has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Texas special interests alone.

ProgressNow New Mexico’s review of legislative finance reports found just as egregious an amount of special interest money streaming into the campaign coffers of our Senators and Representatives.* (Before the second-quarter reports were released, ProgressNow New Mexico found 13 different legislators who had only raised funds from special interests.) Companies like Exxon-Mobil, Altria, Comcast, AT&T, Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, plus a slew of lobbyists and PACs, fund some of our state legislators at a rate of 100%. Senator Bill Payne (R-Bernalillo), for example, took nearly $14,000 from 37 different special interests in the first quarter of 2012 alone.

In America, no matter how you may personally feel about the issue, politicians are not required to fund their campaigns with money from their neighbors or constituents. However, it signals a certain amount of disingenuousness to claim that you represent and will fight for the interests of normal people in your district while not expending the effort to fundraise any dollars whatsoever from the people you claim to speak for.

Our democracy is founded on the principles of consensus and true representation, not on the narrow interests of corporations and lobbyists. More politicians should follow the lead of the legislators who work hard to raise funds from individuals instead of being content to take as much money as possible from as many specials interests as will throw it their way.

(Click here to see who made ProgressNow New Mexico’s list of “Special Interest Sweethearts”)

 

*Our methodology: We reviewed the campaign finance reports of every incumbent legislator and first narrowed our data set by limiting it to those legislators that took at least 10 contributions in the first/second quarter of 2012. We then added up all the contributions made to a campaign by lobbyists, corporations, PACs, and unions (not including self-funded dollars, i.e. monies given to a candidate’s campaign by the candidate him/herself) and compared that sum to the total monetary contributions for the quarter. If the sum of special interest contributions equaled the total monetary contributions for the quarter then that legislator’s campaign was classified as 100% special interest funded. If monies were given to candidates from individuals (not registered lobbyists), pueblos/tribes, or other campaigns or “committees to elect,” then those monies were not classified as special interest dollars.