SANTA FE, N.M. — The Latest on New Mexico guidelines for using federal campaign money in local races (all times local):
U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce’s campaign for governor of New Mexico is seeking to recover $160,000 in legal costs in a dispute with state election regulators over the transfer of federal campaign cash to the state race.
Pearce campaign spokesman Kevin Sheridan said Wednesday that it is appropriate for the state to pay those legal costs based a decision by the Secretary of State’s Office to block the transfer of federal campaign funds. He says that decision ran contrary to a prior ruling allowing Bill Richardson to access federal campaign dollars in a successful 2002 run for governor, citing a judge’s recent opinion.
The Secretary of State’s Office initially said that only $11,000 can be transferred by Pearce, based on a New Mexico law that limits campaign contributions to $5,500 in a primary election and again in the general election.
A proposed settlement agreement in the case would ensure Pearce can continue to use more than $900,000 that he raised while in Congress on his campaign for governor.
New Mexico election regulators are providing guidance for future political candidates who seek to transfer money from a federal campaign account to run for state office.
New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Joey Keefe said Monday that the guidance responds to a judge’s request in a dispute about Republican Congressman Steve Pearce’s access to a years-old stockpile of campaign cash as he runs for governor.
Detailed conclusions of law were submitted to the judge on Friday by attorneys for Pearce and Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. They aim to prevent federal-to-state transfers from becoming a loophole around New Mexico campaign finance law.
A federal district court judge is considering a proposed settlement that allows Pearce to use nearly $1 million in campaign cash he stockpiled while in Congress.
Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com