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Stop attacks on NM candidates

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez

Last week, voters in the First Congressional District received mailers containing misleading attacks against me and one of my opponents, Deb Haaland. These ads were paid for by a conservative group called “Forward Not Back.” Forward Not Back is a Super PAC based in Charlotte, N.C., affiliated with another out-of-state Super PAC called “No Labels.” The group is financed primarily by billionaires and uber-wealthy hedge fund managers living outside of New Mexico. I condemn the group’s unfounded and unwarranted attacks, and I am calling on all candidates in our race to stand up and publicly condemn these attacks.

The implications in the mailer surrounding my taxes are categorically false. My husband and I have always paid our property taxes.

The mailer is also misleading about the potential costs of a “Medicare for All” plan. Despite what Republican fear mongers have proclaimed, there are many viable ways to pay for a Medicare for All plan that would not involve increasing taxes. The savings alone that would be accrued from transitioning into Medicare for All are one possible way to fund the plan. Studies have shown that the overall cost of Medicare for All would be dramatically less expensive than our current insurance-based health care system and would cover more people. Under our current system, health care costs total up to $3 trillion a year and leave 30 million people without coverage. A Medicare for All plan would cost only $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion and provide coverage for all. The Medicare for All online calculator can help individual families see what they would likely save with a Medicare for All system. I urge individuals, families and employers to visit the calculator to see how much they will save.

The larger questions at stake behind these attacks are why does this shadowy, out-of-state, Republican-financed Super PAC want to meddle in our race? Why attack only the women in the race, both women of color? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but the fact that they are able to do this is a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which held that associations and individuals have the right to spend unlimited amounts of money, often undisclosed, to influence the outcome of elections. This has given rise to billionaires pumping money into elections such as ours in attempts to advance their regressive agendas of suppressing wages, attacking unions and escaping paying their fair share of taxes, all at the expense of the best interests of hard-working New Mexicans.

I believe that Citizens United was wrongly decided and if elected I would support all efforts to overturn it. But we can act right now to make our elections more fair and transparent by implementing two immediate campaign finance reforms.

One is to make campaign donations more transparent and require these Super PACs to fully disclose their donors. We must stop the proliferation of dark money by prohibiting Super PACs from obscuring their big donors by creating sub-entities and multiple layers that make contributions harder to track. Another reform is to institute robust and effective public financing options for those candidates who choose to forego the current campaign finance system. This will reassure voters that publicly financed candidates will not be beholden to their contributors, but will serve the public interest if elected. It is in the spirit of this reform that I have pledged to refuse PAC money from corporations, the NRA or the fossil fuels industry. False and misleading negative advertising from dark money groups turns voters off from the democratic process and undermines the integrity of our electoral system. I urge media outlets to give time to candidates who are being attacked to respond. Leaving candidates to respond to negative attacks on their own reduces their abilities to spread their more positive and issue-driven messages. That is part of the reason why negative ads unfortunately work.

But I have faith that the voters of the First Congressional District will see right through these types of attacks. I want the voters to know that if I am elected, I will work for you. I urge you to look into and meet the candidates, and to vote for a candidate that you believe can effectively represent you and your values, not the shadowy corporate interests. Early voting has already started, so please vote by Election Day, June 5.

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