SANTA FE, N.M. — Continued news coverage by the Santa Fe newspapers and a recent complaint to the city’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board apparently have made spending by PACs and others enough of an issue in the mayor’s race that someone wants to know what voters think about it.
A supporter of Councilor Patti Bushee reported receiving a polling call Sunday that among other things asked about publicly financed candidates and spending by outside groups.
Two PACs and another group – all financed by or with connections to unions – recently reported spending about $20,000 to support mayoral candidate Javier Gonzales, former head of the state Democratic Party. Gonzales, Bushee and the third candidate in the race, Councilor Bill Dimas, have accepted $60,000 each in taxpayer money to run their campaigns and can’t raise or spend any additional money on the race themselves.
Outside groups can spend as much as they like, but Dimas, Bushee and Common Cause – the nonprofit good government group that helped write the city’s public campaign financing law – have said the outside spending defeats the purpose of public financing to level the playing field and keep big money out of local elections. The outside spending for Gonzales continues to go on, with a pro-Gonzales mailer – a previously unreported expense – that says it was funded by one of the union-funded PACs showing up in mailboxes in recent days.
Gonzales says he’s asked the outside groups, which have past connections to the candidate, to stand down..
The Bushee supporter said the Sunday poll asked three awkwardly worded questions about the spending for publicly funded candidates, along the lines of:
1. Would it affect your vote if candidate received outside assistance?
2. Wouldn’t change your vote even if candidate received outside assistance?
3. Not concerned about the issue?