Making some headway in the New Mexico house:
New Mexico political candidates could not accept more than $2,300 from an individual or a political action committee in the next election cycle under a bill approved Monday by the House.
The bill (House Bill 821) is the first of a package of ethics and election-reform measures to clear a legislative chamber this session. Other bills would extend a voluntary public campaign funding system now in place for Public Regulation Commission candidates to all statewide offices; create a state Ethics Commission with subpoena power; limit gifts to public officials; and set more restrictions on state officials and their family members doing contract work with the state.
The House approved the campaign-finance bill (House Bill 821) on a 51-16 vote. It goes to the Senate.
Gov. Bill Richardson said he is pleased with the progress of the ethics bills in the House but is concerned about the lack of progress in the Senate. In the Senate, identical bills to the House legislation have been introduced, but so far only one has been scheduled for a committee hearing.
The governor said he plans to meet with Senate leaders this week about the proposals, which he said he would push “very hard.” “We’re the laughingstock of ethics in the country,” Richardson said at a Capitol news conference.
Walking into the 2008 election leaving a solid ethics foundation in this state and proposing stronger federal regulations could be a winner for Richardson. While this is one area that the federal government has actually been active with, it is still important that all candidates have credibility in an era where the public will not accept unethical behavior.