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Webber proposes support for amendment to limit campaign spending

SANTA FE — Mayor Alan Webber — who raised more money in the 2018 campaign that got him elected than his four competitors combined — is sponsoring a resolution that aims to temper “disproportionate influence in elections” since U.S. Supreme Court decisions have opened the floodgates on campaign spending.

The mayor’s resolution, now making its way through the City Council committee process, refers to Supreme Court decisions that allow for corporations, unions, non-profits and other entities to spend unlimited amounts of money in candidate elections as an expression of free speech.

The mayor’s resolution calls on Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution that confirm that rights guaranteed under the country’s founding document belong exclusively to human beings, not incorporated groups.

Last month, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s landmark Citizens United decision against limiting independent campaign expenditures.

Webber’s measure also calls for federal, state and local governments to be mandated to regulate, limit or prohibit campaign contributions and expenditures to ensure no person or entity gains “substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or ballot measure” because they are rich or have access to money.

Finally, Webber’s measure asks Congress to adopt laws that require campaign contributions and expenditures to be publicly disclosed in all elections. He said he introduced the resolution to follow through on a campaign promise.

“At the time I was running for mayor I was approached by the (New Mexicans for) Money Out of Politics group and asked if I supported federal legislation or, as Sen. Udall proposed, a Constitutional amendment to undo the harm done by the Supreme Court in the last several years that makes money such an important factor, particularly in national elections. I said I would do that,” he said.

The mayor noted that Santa Fe County has already passed a similar resolution.

“What’s really important is how we regulate control and make transparent the way campaigns are funded, where people report where they got their money and how much they got. As far as my own campaign is concerned, we were absolutely scrupulous in reporting,” he said, adding that the resolution was meant to comment on an issue of national importance.

He went on to say that he felt that Santa Fe and New Mexico have a “very honest and well regulated campaign contribution system.”

According to campaign finance reports for the 2018 mayoral election, Webber raised and spent $298,000 during his campaign, not counting in-kind contributions.