The Perversity of Campaign Finance Laws and Important Choices Today

Reflections on today’s election and some real concerns about our campaign finance laws that allow huge infusions of dark, outside money and local corporate money to flood our mail boxes with deceiving mailers. 

First and foremost today, if you haven’t already, please vote.

There are important choices to be made today.

Perhaps the most important is the vote to decide who will manage NM’s energy future, with two critical PRC races. Retake has many supporters in Dists. 4 and 5 and we certainly hope you will vote for Janene Yazzie or Steve Fischmann. The results of those races will be huge.

There are also a raft of statewide races that will determine our choices in November when we select our next Governor, Lt. Governor, Auditor, and Land Commissioner. We are only supporting one candidate in those races, Bill McCamley for State Auditor. To us, he was clearly the first choice, a man of integrity who has represented his district in the Roundhouse very well.

There are also two local Roundhouse House District races (Dist. 41 and 46) with campaigns between two incumbents funded by gas and oil and pitted against two solid progressive challengers.  Those of you in 41 and 46, we hope you will vote to elect Susan Herrera (41) and Andrea Romero (46).  We feel the election of these challengers will make passage of good progressive bills far easier, by removing two Democrats who vote with the GOP far too often and who are masters at manipulating the committee process to deep-six good bills that their corporate funders oppose. And then there are important local races for judges, county commission and sheriff.

Some have asked why Retake Our Democracy didn’t publish a voters guide with recommendations in all these races or why we hadn’t voiced our support for one or another candidate for Governor or Land Commissioner early in the race. All we can say is that Retake’s primary goal is to engage, educate and activate in relation to issues and bills we feel will advance social, racial, economic, gender and environmental justice. Our primary purpose is not to weigh in on every primary race. We did not take a position on the Mayor’s race, any of the city council races in March, or in any State race except the State Auditor.

In supporting Andrea Romero (Dist. 46) and Susan Herrera (Dist. 41) we discovered just how contentious and personal primary races can be. And how much time is required to do due diligence to the races. What we had not anticipated was the degree to which advocates for candidates we oppose would push back, sometimes with valid points, other times with scurrilous assertions, all of which required time to consider and either accept or rebut. And then there is the level of acrimony that accrues from simply taking a stand in opposition to one candidate or another. The result is that people who likely agree on 75-90% of the issues find themselves feeling abused by the process and each other. Those wounds will be hard to heal and, in truth, we need each other. It is hard to imagine how much healing would be needed had we taken positions in all the races.

In short, please make sure you vote today and maybe call a few friends or if you have an e-list, send out a note encouraging people to vote. And if you have a favorite candidate or two, toss them a plug. And then on Wednesday, let’s start the hard work of unifying and supporting those candidates who emerge. We simply can not afford divisions from primary battles to allow Steve Pearce to become Governor, or whoever emerges as the GOP candidates in House Districts 1 and 2 to represent us in Washington. If we learned nothing else in Nov 2016, there is a big difference between the lesser of two evils and the evil itself.

A Democracy In Peril

The last few days I’ve been working to defend Retake Our Democracy against an Ethics Complaint raised by a supposedly progressive California-based organization that claimed we had failed to report our immense contributions to campaigns we are supporting. Never mind that the total cash contributed is less than $200. This is trivial next to the very real ‘contributions’ to campaign dialog that are deluging the airwaves and mail boxes from the corporatocracy.

While working on our response to the Ethics Complaint, I read several reports of perfectly legal campaign practices. Things like:

  • PNM contributing $440,000 to PACs that are entirely funding hit pieces on behalf of two PRC incumbents. What’s more Lynda Lovejoy and Sandy Jones smear campaigns are being run by none other than Republican Strategist Jay McCleskey, Gov Martinez’ notorious strategist and confident…and these two Commissioners have the audacity to continue to make decisions of tremendous financial import to PNM while accepting such huge amounts of support to produce hit ads against honest, trustworthy opponents–utterly shameless.
  • Chevron and Mack Energy contributing almost $300K to NM Strong, a conservative PAC that is now spending that money on hit ads on behalf of Debbie Rodella, Carl Trujillo, and George Muñoz (Land Commissioner).

It makes it so much easier for PNM to advance greedy, climate crushing energy plans if you know that the Commissioners you selected and for whom you purchased their re-election will vote 3-2 in your favor no matter what kind of fictitious claims you make. This is democracy?  Really?

It also makes it easier for two of the major blockades for progressive legislation in the Roundhouse—Debbie Rodella and Carl Trujillo—to be re-elected when they have corporate partners from Chevron and Mack Energy paying for hit ads that attack their worthy opponents with misleading claims in last minute mailers. If they can fool their constituents, then they can continue to do industry’s bidding at the expense of their constituents. There is a reason, Debbie Rodella gets an A+ NRA rating and why Carl Trujillo is endorsed by the Association of Commerce and Industry and a pro-life alliance, while their opponents are endorsed by unions, pueblos, Planned Parenthood and Conservation Voters of NM.

And yet, all this Dark Money is perfectly legal, perfectly democratic and Retake Our Democracy is having to file a response to an Ethics Complaint because we bought pizza for a house party for Yazzie and Fischmann and have published blogs encouraging our followers to become engaged and active. We will be filing our response to the Complaint in the next few days and expect to be fully exonerated with the only damage done being one lost night’s sleep, many hours of compiling data, and several hundred dollars in legal feels. But is this what campaign disclosure laws are intended to do: allow wanton huge contributions to taint our elections and fill our mailboxes with lies and deceptions while discouraging volunteer-based grassroots activism that tries to counter that influence with blogs that are issues-focused?

If you feel it is crazy that PNM, Chevron and Mack Energy can unscrupulously pervert out democratic process while little old us has to pony up scarce resources for attorney fees, we’d sure appreciate your contribution.Donate Button with Credit Cards

That’s it for today. Wednesday is not a day I typically blog, but with this much at stake, I don’t see how I can not. We’ll see. But whatever you do today.

VOTE!!! Then Pray

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics, Local-State Government & Legislation

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9 replies

  1. You are right , Paul, the wounds will take time to heal. I received five mailers from the Enchantment PAC supporting Andrea Romero rivaling each other in sliminess and dishonesty. One was racist. To your credit, you rebuked them. So did Andrea but it took her about a week to do so and only after you had rebuked them.

    I received two GOP PAC mailers. One was marginally better than those from the Enchantment PAC. The other was honest and practically wholesome. It was a model of what a mailer should be.

    The progressive wing of the Democratic party is in trouble when out-of-state money funneled through Albuquerque makes us look real bad in comparison with the GOP. The progressive wing of the Democratic party wants to get money out of politics? It will be a long time before I believe that.

    Then last night — I don’t even want to tell you about the phone calls and others I received last night.

    I was a committed progressive when this election contest started. Now, I just don’t know. There are too many, too well-funded progressive I do NOT wish to be associated with. They have become the Republicans of the left.

    I hope that next time around, Retake Our Democracy gives more thought to whom it supports.

    • As you note, Retake and me personally are utterly opposed to dark money. I made that clear in today’s post. It does neither side any good and only fosters horribly misguided views of both candidates. You didn’t mention the terribly unfair hit mailers coming from corporate funded PACs supporting Trujillo. To be fair, these were also vile. I just hope voters are able to discard this mailers and vote based upon historic votes and positions.

  2. The last part of the Poor People’s campaign action was to deliver letters written earlier to each of the PRC commissioners. All but one were not in their offices, so letters were pushed under their doors. Sandy Jones did come out and speak to us. I asked him about the “New Mexicans for Progress” PAC, more properly called “PNM for PNM”, which produced a mailer proclaiming him the only candidate standing up to the special interests. He said he was opposed to dark money in his campaign and wanted a photo showing him with PPC folks. This was politely declined, and Samia ended with a beautiful little speech on morality.
    During a break in the PRC hearing I spoke to Pat O’Connel, an engineer by training (so I tended to like him) who works for PNM. We exchanged information in a relaxed manner. Storage seem a critical issue for renewables. My come away was that someone like Pat was basically well intentioned, but working within the (capitalist) system, so his job is to have PNM make maximum profit. From this viewpoint the New Mexicans for Progress PAC, which smart PNM lawyers presumably said was legal, was a smart investment of 0.5M$ by PNM. So, my come away was that smart capitalists, who present themselves as well intentioned, are utterly without a moral compass, because capitolism teaches us to be this way.
    The donate button is not working for me. Alternatives for donation?

    • Hi Guthrie,

      Not sure why it didn’t work….it always does, but I checked and it didn’t work. I fixed it, so if you go to our home page and click the same blog (top of the page), you can click the same link and it will work. Thanks so much. Paul

  3. I am very grateful for your (Paul & Roxanne’s) deep & enduring commitment to democracy & responsible citizenship – for delving deeply & teaching through your written examples how to discern truth from falsehoods, fabrications, distortions, propaganda, evasions, et al.

    “Delve Deeply” & “Learn to Discern” are great bumper stickers & T-shirts. With some potent graphics they’d be popular fund raisers for Retake.

    I am trying to cut back on my driving (to & from SF),& want to give Retake some feedback via email on three issues – “$15 dollars an hour,” “capitalism,” & an “International Hemp Research Cooperative.”

    “$15 an hour” is a temporary solution that ignores the large picture and, I believe, solution. Gaining $15 an hour minimum wage means nothing when the powerful gain multimillion $ tax deductions & salary hikes. Instead, we should advocate ethical, fair ratios between the lowest & highest salaries in corporations. So instead of a ratio of 1 to 3,000, a fairer scale would be 1 to 50. A graph showing the historical shift over the last 50 or 75 years would be powerful.

    Secondly, capitalism is a creation of the Power Over paradigm that has dominated for centuries & contributes to the imbalance with which we are struggling. Nature freely offers partnership. (Here’s another t-shirt & bumper sticker theme – “Nature is not a capitalist!”) I suggest replacing capitalism with employee owned & operated cooperatives where democracy replaces authoritarianism, hierarchy.

    I offer to loan for showing to Retake supporters my copy of “Shift Change,” an excellent DVD documentary about Mondragon cooperatives begun by a priest in Spain after World War II. Two enticing ideas the docu briefly mentions are creation of a cooperative public bank & a 21st century genuine health care program for members that would include dental & vision coverage as well as energy medicine; no more insurance privatization including the added costs & enormous bureaucracy – creation all within the national cooperative rather than wait for the corrupted federal government to pass.

    Thirdly, the International Hemp Research Cooperative Institute would evolve from New Mexico’s growing & researching hemp products The appropriate state university would prioritize hemp growing/research projects to focus on developing products that would replace the most harmful fossil fuel (FF) products, possibly FF plastics & FF fertilizers. Create a state policy that would offer patent rights first to hemp co-ops in order to keep the business(es) here in NM rather than selling the patents to corporations most likely to take the patents to the cheapest labor in the world to manufacture. As the hemp coops grow, create the research institute for all the hemp coops to share research missions & facilities.

    Marge Johnson

  4. You might see this article as a “bit off topic”, but it is NOT…..a brilliant article on business schools and what they teach and how they indoctrinate and now we have the term “business man” elevated to the status of a god with the Predator and Pimp of so-called business… as savior… as the foundation of our country…it is a crock breeding sociopathic behavior and mean-spirited white man doctrine and dogma….21st century “Scrooge mind” no different than in the time of Dickens….no matter your age, worthy of reflection!


    Seems my comment was lost….I send again in different words…..this is a brilliant article on business schools, the indoctrination of its attendees and the flat our soul-less sociopathic god-making of the GREAT WHITE HOPE: the Business Man who we now see modeled for us by the Predator and Pimp of corrupt practices in the WH and …….business as the messianic hope of all economies based on patriarchy. It’s all a crock and a root cause for the insane mind matrix running America and planet. I recommend the article for a reflection on root causes. Politics is just an off shoot of this soul-killing ideal of greed, power and what fouls the air as the golden calf idolatry of BUSINESS AND THE BUSINESS MAN…..

  6. Hello, It does neither side any good and only fosters horribly misguided views of both candidates. You didn’t mention the terribly unfair hit mailers coming from corporate funded PACs supporting Trujillo. To be fair, these were also vile. I just hope voters are able to discard this mailers and vote based upon historic votes and positions.

  7. Perhaps the most important is the vote to decide who will manage NM’s energy future, with two critical PRC races. Retake has many supporters in Dists. 4 and 5 and we certainly hope you will vote for Janene Yazzie or Steve Fischmann. The results of those races will be huge.

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