Opinion: Wealthy donors shouldn’t hide behind rules in campaigns

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I have been a citizen of New Mexico for 40 years and of Taos for 27. For once I am excited by the effort of an elected official to improve our political process. Our Secretary of State, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, is creating rules to make contributions to all New Mexico political campaigns transparent and available to the public. As she stated on her website: “We are continuing to work towards greater transparency and disclosure in political campaigns because New Mexicans have a right to know who is paying for the TV commercials and ads that are trying to influence our vote.” I do want to know who is buying my candidates’ votes.

I attended a hearing concerning the proposed rules that was sparsely attended by citizens of Northern New Mexico. Instead there were four entities supported in large part by the Koch Brothers that opposed the rules: the Center for Competitive Politics, Americans for Prosperity, Concerned Veterans for America, and the Rio Grande Foundation. One spokesman said that donors would be afraid to be known publicly and quoted from a lawsuit by the NAACP against the State of Alabama, which requested anonymity for their donors. It is amazing to me that these extremely wealthy and established donors would be as afraid of the consequences to themselves as poor blacks in the Jim Crow south. Really now!

Another stated the well-known fact that the signers of the Declaration of Independence “signed their death warrants” when they signed the document. Of course they did. The British government did every thing they could to put down the revolution. Nathan Hale is one hero who demonstrated the brutality of their attempts to suppress it. My question is: would we have succeeded in having the revolution that created the United States of America if they had published the Declaration and said: “we are afraid to sign this Declaration but go ahead and fight for your freedom”? What do you think?

It seems that from the beginning of recorded history there has always been a conflict between the aristocrats, those in power, and the wealthy wanting to protect their liberty to do as they will versus the needs and desires of the peasants, common people, immigrants and others. The history of our country, too, has been the story of this conflict both on the streets and in the political arena from Shay’s and the Whiskey Rebellions during the post Revolutionary War era through abolition, the Civil War, the fight for the vote by Blacks and women, union organizing, and on to the Civil Rights, LGBT, and immigrant rights of today.

Now those of us who believe in democracy and the right of all humans to a life of dignity and well-being are facing a concerted effort by the wealthy and the ruling class to curtail those democratic freedoms by restricting the vote and by allowing hidden money to confuse and frighten voters. Maggie Toulouse Oliver is standing at the front of the effort to protect the vote and to bring transparency to political campaigns. She needs all the support she can get to oppose the forces of “dark money” to defeat her proposed rules. If you care about this, go to her website (sos.state.nm.us/Elections_Data/notice-of-proposed-rulemaking.aspx) and leave a comment.

Not afraid to sign my name.

Brown lives in Arroyo Seco.

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