Parties that stand to benefit need not foot the bill

— The Santa Fe New Mexican

Here’s another door to shut in our bought-and-paid-for electoral system.

Turns out that political action committees can’t just buy candidates. They can actually pay the costs of a special election — essentially buying the outcome.

County clerks across New Mexico think that’s a bad idea and want the New Mexico Legislature to pass a law that would prohibit such practices.

At a recent board of directors meeting for the New Mexico Association of Counties, Lincoln County Clerk Rhonda Burrows told county commissioners that her group wants PACs out of the business of paying for elections.

In Ruidoso, for example, a PAC paid for a special election on a gross receipts tax, according to the Ruidoso News. The notion was to pass a five-year tax of three-sixteenths of a cent “business retention” GRT to encourage the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino not to up and move the operation elsewhere. The county was reimbursed for its expenses.

(The tax passed, by the way.)

That’s not the right way to run special elections. The clerks are correct to point out that parties that stand to benefit should not be paying the bills. As clerk Burrows said in the News: “Permitting this to occur creates at least an appearance of conflict of interest and calls into question whether elections are happening for the public good.”

Clerks want legislation that would ban a non-governmental entity from paying for or paying back a local government for the costs of a special election. That is smart governance. If the counties group does not adopt it as a legislative priority, we hope the legislation is introduced anyway.

Elections should decide matters in the public — not the private, well-funded — interest.


Abortion wars arrive


Speaking of elections, it appears Albuquerque is ready to enter the social issue wars in a big way, thanks to an out-of-state activist group seeking to put an anti-abortion measure on the city ballot come October.

Operation Rescue and other organizers believe they have collected more than enough signatures to place a proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks in front of voters.

Their proposal would provide no exception for incest, rape or a fetus with a severe abnormality. It’s likely, too, that such a ban is unconstitutional, meaning Albuquerque would have to spend money to defend a law that would be struck down should it pass.

The drive to obtain a ban at the city level on abortions after 20 weeks is the first of its kind in the nation.

It appears to us that rather than investing so much energy and emotion into seeking bans on late-term abortions, abortion opponents would be better served to join with supporters of a women’s right to choose in attacking the root cause.

Reduce unintended pregnancies, eliminating the need or desire for abortion, and work to ensure every baby is as anticipated and loved as Prince George of Cambridge. That’s the better way to reduce abortions.


Speak Your Mind