NMMOP Campaign Finance Amendment 09/22/17

In 2017, when RepresentUs New Mexico was New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, it created an amendment language subcommittee that was tasked with reviewing the various versions of a campaign finance amendment that had been proposed in Congress and studying the law pertaining to elections and campaign finance. After about a six month process, the subcommittee produced the version below. Since then, the organization has moved towards amendment language that does not require the invalidation of corporate constitutional rights as set forth in Section 1, and thus would not require making exceptions for political parties and connected political committees as set forth in Section 3.

Proposed Text of the 2017 NMMOP Amendment

“That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission for ratification:

“Article __

“Section 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only. Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trusts and other artificial legal structures created pursuant to the laws of a state, the United States or any foreign state have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State or local law and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

“Section 2. Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit or prohibit political contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, in order to prevent corruption. protect the integrity of government and the electoral process and  ensure that no person, group or entity, as a result of his or its financial resources or capabilities, has unfairly disproportionate access to or influence upon elected political officials, or the ability to unduly influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or the passage of any ballot measure. For all permissible contributions and expenditures, individual and aggregate financial limitations set for each donor shall apply to all campaign contributions and expenditures at all levels of government, federal, state, and local. Individual and aggregate financial limitations should be set for all campaign contributions and expenditures. Aggregate limitations shall apply to all types of contributions and expenditures and to all classes of recipients, whether made to candidates, political parties, political committees or a combination thereof. Such regulation, limitations or prohibitions shall also be made to apply to campaign contributions and expenditures made or incurred for the purpose of opposing the election of any candidate for public office or any political issue or ballot measure.

“Section 3. With the sole exception of bona fide political parties and registered political committees, no artificial entity may solicit or make contributions to or incur expenditures for the benefit of any political campaign of a candidate running for public office or in support of any ballot measure, or to oppose any candidate, political issue or ballot measure. Only citizens entitled to vote in an election may make contributions to or incur expenditures for the benefit of political parties or political  committees.

“ Section 4. Federal, State, and local governments shall also pass laws requiring disclosure of contributions and expenditures, regardless of dollar or value amount, in order to promote transparency in the election process and to give the People sufficient information to know the identity of the donor and the amounts of each contribution and expenditure and so that agencies charged with collecting and reporting such information to the People shall be able to do so in a timely and effective matter.

“Section 5. Legislation passed pursuant to the intents and purposes of this article shall not be construed to abridge or infringe upon any of the rights of the People established under the First or Fourteenth Amendments or any other provision of the Constitution.

“Section 6. Congress, the States and local government shall also pass appropriate legislation to effectively enforce legislation promulgated pursuant to the provisions of this article and to provide adequate funding for the agency charged by each of them with regulating campaign contributions and expenditures pursuant to this article.”

Explanation of the Proposed Amendment

Section 1 is almost identical to Section 1 of the “We the People Amendment,” H.J.Res. 48 (Rep. Nolan, D-MN) Lin the 113th Legislature.

Section 2 is also largely based on Section 2 of H.J.Res. 48, but the rationales for campaign finance regulation have been expanded and additional limitations upon individual and aggregate contributions and expenditures were added. Also, the disclosure provision has been moved from Section 2 to  Section 4.

Section 3 excludes all artificial entities except political parties and registered political committees from making contributions or incurring expenditures. Those must be excepted from the ban against participation by artificial entities because they are historically part of the process and serve useful purposes.

Sections 5 and 6 were largely borrowed from other proposed federal amendments.

John House
Subcomittee Chair