Albuquerque’s mayoral candidates are already raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaigns, but some of them won’t have to disclose whom they’re getting it from – or what they’re spending it on – until July.
Under the City Charter, privately financed candidates for mayor don’t report their campaign finance activity until about 12 weeks before Election Day, or July 14 this year.
There’s an exception for mayoral candidates who are already in office – City Councilor Dan Lewis, among them – who must file quarterly reports throughout their entire tenure. Lewis, whose campaign says he has raised $100,000, must file disclosure statements Monday and in mid-April.
Heather Ferguson of Common Cause New Mexico, which advocates for open and ethical government, said the charter’s late deadlines are rooted in a time when mayoral candidates waited until summer to launch campaigns. A January reporting deadline would make more sense today, she said, given that candidates announce campaigns a year or more ahead of time.
Voters deserve to know, she said, if a mayoral candidate is funded by, say, out-of-state interests. Scientific polling repeatedly shows support across party lines for more disclosure of campaign funding sources, Ferguson said.
“They want to know who’s paying for our elections,” she said.
Candidates who opt into Albuquerque’s public financing system must disclose seed money and in-kind donations before they start gathering the thousands of $5 contributions needed to qualify for taxpayer funding.
But other campaigns are free to raise and spend as they please without disclosing the activity to the public until July – nearly three months before Election Day.
Brian Colón, an attorney and former chairman of the state Democratic Party, has raised about $200,000 already, a spokeswoman said, and he hasn’t even formally announced his campaign.
Deanna Archuleta, a Democrat and former Bernalillo County commissioner who entered the race in May, said she’s raised at least $100,000.
“I share concerns that the current process does not fully provide Albuquerque residents with timely information about candidate fundraising,” she said in a written statement to the Journal .
Running for mayor can be expensive. Mayor Richard Berry raised about $900,000 during his 2013 campaign, and his predecessor, Martin Chávez, raised about $1.1 million in 2005. Each won re-election those years. Berry defeated Chávez in 2009.
Union groups, business owners, attorneys, real estate agents and neighborhood leaders are usually among the donors.
Election Day is Oct. 3. It’s a nonpartisan election – party affiliation won’t appear on the ballot – and if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, there will be a runoff election in November.
Berry isn’t seeking re-election to a third term.
Candidates for state office face their own deadlines. They must file reports starting in April, before the June primary election. They also file reports in April and October in the years between elections.
Among those already in the race or planning to run are Archuleta; Colón; Lewis; talk radio host Eddy Aragon; County Commissioner Wayne Johnson; state Auditor Tim Keller; retired police detective Michelle Garcia Holmes; retired Old Town resident Stella Padilla; Elan Colello, CEO of a virtual reality company; Scott Madison, who works with the nuclear weapons program at Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories; and Susan Wheeler-Deichsel, founder of the civic group Urban ABQ.
Considering a run are City Councilor Ken Sanchez and former City Councilor Pete Dinelli.