City Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth recently sponsored a proposal to amend Santa Fe’s current Public Campaign Financing Code. The 2009 law contained a matching system which was invalidated by the US Supreme Court in 2011. The matching system currently being proposed will achieve constitutional compliance, allowing publicly funded candidates to be more competitive with privately funded opponents and respond more effectively to heavy spending.
The Finance Committee reviewed the bill twice, expressing numerous concerns. Additional information was requested once, and then, narrowly escaping being killed, it was postponed on October 1. One contentious issue was whether matching funds should apply to Council races or only Mayoral. Some opined that the proposal is “a solution looking for a problem.” The sponsor countered that we need to keep “the problem” at bay, and it’s only a matter of time before outside big money sees Santa Fe’s council seats as valuable and begins channeling funds into those races to turn the City in their favor.
Romero-Wirth met with several committee members, offering concessions that preserve the integrity of the proposal. Instead of three-to-one matching, it now provides one-to-one. There are also new caps on the maximum amounts that can be raised privately and that can be paid out by the City. The Finance Committee reviewed the revision on October 15 and finally approved the bill.
Read more detail about the revised bill and statements from Finance Committee members at the meeting.
The bill is slated to be on the agenda for full City Council consideration on December 12. The sponsor believes there is a good chance it will pass.
MOP volunteers have been supporting this issue by submitting Letters to the Editor and Op Ed articles, as well as by sending emails to Finance Committee members. We will resume this activism in December, encouraging all Councilors and the Mayor to pass this important item. To learn more or to help, contact Ishwari by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.