Bridge Alliance Helps Close Campaign Finance Loophole in NM

Posted by on February 19, 2018 at 2:17 PM

Bridge Alliance-supported legislation in New Mexico closes the door on unverifiable campaign contributions and foreign money

Friend --

The "credit card loophole" is a gap in our campaign finance laws that allows individuals -- including foreign sources -- to make anonymous donations to political campaigns using untraceable prepaid credit cards. Individuals can use the loophole to mask their identity and evade contribution limits. You can read more about the loophole on Bridge Alliance member Take Back Our Republic's website.

This past Tuesday, the New Mexico State legislature unanimously passed a bill (SB 50) that closes the credit card loophole at the state level. Remarkably, that vote took place just five days after it was messaged by Governor Susana Martinez, passing through both the Senate and House. SB 50 now goes back to Governor Martinez for her signature to turn it into law.

SB 50 adds a necessary layer of security and integrity to the state’s campaign finance laws.

We are excited to report that the Bridge Alliance's Director of Development Doug Nickle played a key role in championing this bill and shepherding it through the New Mexico legislature. His account of the process is below:

"My role in SB 50 started when I testified in front of the Courts, Corrections and Justice interim committee last summer, in my capacity at Take Back our Republic. I spoke on a range of campaign finance related issues.

The eventual sponsors of the bill, Senator Cisco McSorley (D), and Representatives Bill Rehm (R) and Jim Dines (R) focused on the online credit card campaign contribution loophole and requested more information. Over the next couple of months, I worked with Dare To Be United’s National Programs Director, Joe Livoti, to draft proposed legislation.

Senator McSorley took the lead and filed what ended up becoming SB 50. Leading up to the short legislative session, Common Cause New Mexico was extremely diligent in promoting SB 50 as the common sense, nonpartisan campaign finance reform that it is. Additionally, we received tremendous support and guidance from New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse-Oliver and her staff, who are keenly focused on election transparency and disclosure issues.

Here is the fiscal impact report on SB 50, which is a concise summary of the intent and scope of the bill.

The week before the Unrig Summit, I contacted Governor Susana Martinez's office to see if she planned to send SB 50 to the legislature. I didn’t hear anything back, so on Feb. 6th, I reached out to her office and connected with her Director of Policy, Brad Galbraith. Brad was very engaging; he listened and asked a lot of insightful questions about the credit card loophole and how SB 50 would address it.

Two days later, on Feb. 8th, Governor Martinez messaged the bill! On Friday the 9th, I testified in front of the Senate Judiciary committee- with supporting commentary from Common Cause New Mexico and Secretary of State Toulouse-Oliver- where SB 50 passed unanimously. It was voted on and passed on the Senate floor on Monday the 12th (I was the “expert witness”), and then assigned to the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs committee on Tuesday morning the 13th, where it passed unanimously (additional supportive commentary from Common Cause New Mexico and SOS Chief of Staff John Blair).

SB 50 was added to the House supplemental calendar, and on Tuesday night it passed on the House floor. I was again the “expert witness,” but as was the case with Senator McSorley in the Senate, Reps. Rehm and Dines provided their own expertise and intelligent command of this issue.

This process was an astoundingly successful collaborative effort. Fundamental, rainmaking contributions came from my colleague Joe Livoti of Dare To Be United, Heather Ferguson of Common Cause New Mexico, and the team at Take Back Our Republic.

Further- and proof that our representative democracy can work efficiently if we engage as citizens- we owe gratitude to the bipartisan spirit and leadership of Senator McSorley, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Representative Rehm and Representative Dines, and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse-Oliver and her staff. It was a hugely successful bipartisan collaboration, linking the commitment and good will of reformers and elected officials."

We would like to congratulate Doug on this success and take a moment to note the significant results that can be achieved through collaboration. The Bridge Alliance was founded on the principle that we can achieve much more together than any one of us can achieve on our own, and SB 50 is a great example of that philosophy in action. We look forward to working with all of our member organizations to achieve many more successes in all areas of political reform throughout 2018 and beyond.

Bridge Alliance


Bridge Alliance Members in the News:

Issue One - Newsweek

POGO - The Daily Caller

Democracy Works - JHU Newsletter