Voters have a right to know which special interests are spending big money to influence their votes. In Santa Fe, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico agreed and upheld the city’s transparency law.
Santa Fe’s transparency ordinance requires basic disclosure from those spending money to support or oppose ballot measures in local elections. The ordinance was created to shine a light on dark money and the effects of wealthy special interests spending money to sway voters.
The plaintiff, Rio Grande Foundation (RGF), is an Albuquerque-based group that regularly participates in legislative and policy advocacy in New Mexico. In 2017, RGF refused to file a campaign finance report disclosing who was behind its spending to defeat a ballot measure in Santa Fe’s municipal elections that year.
The city’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board ordered RGF to file a one-time, six-page campaign report. Shortly thereafter, RGF filed suit against the City of Santa Fe and the Board, challenging the disclosure ordinance.
Transparency in election spending is one of the foundations of our democracy. Real transparency about who is spending big money on elections will mean more government accountability and less political corruption.
Campaign Legal Center and the Santa Fe City Attorney’s Office are co-counsel to the City of Santa Fe in the case.