New Mexico Disclosure Bill Could Chill Political Speech in the State

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Center for Competitive Politics’ Director of External Relations Matt Nese submitted comments today to the New Mexico Legislature on Senate Bill 15, which proposes to create broad and burdensome disclosure requirements for individuals and organizations that make communications to the public that merely mention the name of a candidate in a specified time period before a primary or general election. The comments were submitted ahead of a hearing on the legislation this morning by the House Voters and Elections Committee.

S.B. 15 broadly extends recent court-sanctioned disclosure of these communications, covering speech that discusses political issues, but does not advocate for or against candidates for office. As a result, the legislation may deter individuals from contributing to organizations by impinging on their right to freedom of association. Likewise, many small non-profit groups may find it easier to cancel communications efforts rather than struggle to meet reporting requirements.

The disclosure information required by S.B. 15 could also result in the harassment of individuals by their political opponents, and the proposed reporting thresholds for organizations speaking before the public on an issue could result in “junk disclosure” by associating a donor with a communication they have no knowledge of or may not even support.

In short, the language in S.B. 15 is so broadly defined that in order to comply with the bill’s far-reaching reporting requirements, it’s likely that many groups will instead opt not to speak. “This legislation proposes extensive and burdensome reporting and disclosure requirements that could chill the speech of many organizations,” said Nese. “If this bill is signed into law, a nonprofit organization in New Mexico that publishes a simple scorecard rating of legislator votes on its website could be forced to fill out complex paperwork with the state and reveal many of its donors.”

A copy of the comments can be found here. Please contact Communications Director Sarah Lee with further questions at 770.598.7961.

 

 

The Center for Competitive Politics promotes and defends the First Amendment’s protection of political rights of speech, assembly, and petition. It is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

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