By Wiley Rein
Despite the pandemic and being in its first year of existence, the New Mexico State Ethics Commission wasted no time in 2020. The agency recently took significant enforcement actions against two groups for alleged reporting violations for their independent expenditures. The matters illustrate the varying approaches states take to enforcement and spotlight issues that bedevil groups involved in issue and election advocacy.
The New Mexico State Ethics Commission only got off the ground at the beginning of 2020, after the state legislature passed legislation in 2019 implementing the agency pursuant to a constitutional amendment enacted by voters in 2018. Similar to the enforcement structure in some other states, enforcement of New Mexico’s campaign finance laws previously had been handled primarily by the Secretary of State and state Attorney General.
The existence of a dedicated state campaign finance agency can be a double-edged sword for those in the regulated community…