Money and politics have been intertwined since the beginning of government. Today is no different. While bribery laws have been around in the United States since the founding, an increasing amount of states have enacted specific laws related to bribery in politics in an effort to address pay to play operations. Pay to play is the term used to describe a situation where money, typically in the form of political donations, is exchanged for specific political favors, often in the form of a regulation carve out or an award of a government contract. In an effort to curb political favoritism, states have regulated, or completely prohibited, political donations from lobbyists and government contractors. New Mexico is no exception. The New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill that significantly impacts who can donate to political candidates and political parties. The bill did not make it through in the Senate, but supporters are hopeful it will pass in the next legislative session.
The text of NM House Bill 118 widely prohibits lobbyists and government contractors from donating to a political candidate or any political committee. It also prohibits “seekers of targeted subsidies” from political donations. This is defined as “a person, including a business entity or nonprofit organization, that will directly benefit financially from a targeted subsidy.” A “targeted subsidy” is further described as “a financial benefit, including a tax exemption, credit or reduction in taxes, that is conferred by proposed legislation or the enactment of law on an entity that is: (1) named in the legislation or law as its beneficiary; or (2) described in the legislation or law in a particularized manner that is the functional equivalent of naming the entity as its beneficiary.” Continue reading