Thursday evening, the Charter Review Task Force met to discuss member Chuck Gara's proposal to amend the city charter so that anyone who wished to get involved in a city election had to register with the city as a "Measure Finance Committee." Currently, non-profit organizations feel that they are exempt from the requirements under the city charter.
“Measure Finance Committee” means a political committee or any person or combination of two or more persons acting jointly in aid of or in opposition to the effort of anyone seeking to have their name placed on the ballot for city office, a petition to place a measure on the ballot pursuant to Article III of this Charter, voter approval or disapproval of one or more measures on the ballot and/or the election to, or recall from, office of one or more candidates for office when such person or people have accepted contributions in excess of $250 or make expenditures in excess of $250 for any of the purposes listed heretofore.To us it looks like non-profits who send out attack, uh... "education" mailers to targeted districts with the intent of "shaping the electoral battlefield" already fall under the City Charter's definition of a Measure Finance Committee. Apparently, the city attorney agrees.-Article XIII, Section 2 (k) - Albuquerque City Charter
[Thursday's] discussion took a confusing turn when city attorneys addressed the issue. They said the Gara proposal wasn't materially different from what's already in place.The issue here isn't really Gara's proposed amendment. The issue here is enforcement. The current charter provision can easily be interpreted to mean that 501(c)3s who engage in electioneering - like Eli Lee's Center for Civic Policy did last election cycle - must abide by the provisions of the city charter which include reporting donations and expenditures. The city has never interpreted the provision that way and thus it has never enforced it.
Of course the usual suspects are hooooowling in outrage. The American Liberal Civilities Union, AFSCME, "several non-profits," etcetera, believe it's their god given (ok maybe their Darwin given) right to engage in practices that are denied individuals and of course the eeeeeevil business community.
As we asserted in our last post... In our opinion, THE CITY CHARTER ALREADY VIOLATES THE 1ST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION. The issue of non-profits having to report their expenditures and donors the way every other group engaging in municipal electioneering is required to do, has simply never come up. Now that someone has had the temerity to make an issue of non-profit election shenanigans, these political non-profits and even non-political non-profits are trying to protect their own liberties without regard to the freedoms of other groups or individuals.
Thursday we called it hypocrisy... and so it is. If the measure finance provision of the charter is unconstitutional as we believe it to be, the measure finance provision needs to be removed. If however, it is constitutional then measure finance provisions need to apply to every group regardless of their IRS status.