Lamenting Leftism

NM Lawmaker Proves Ignorant of the Law, Then Doubles Down To Prove Ignorant of the ‘Intent’ of the Law

Just because you’re a state lawmaker doesn’t mean you understand state law, as one New Mexico Democrat demonstrated Wednesday in an attempted call-out of a Republican gubernatorial candidate.

State Rep. Matthew McQueen had to delete a post on Twitter that accused Republican gubernatorial candidate Jay Block of violating state law for fundraising during the “blackout” period following the recent special legislative session.

The problem, pointed out to McQueen by Journal reporter Dan Boyd, is that it’s not illegal at all.

New Mexico’s “Prohibited Period” or “legislative freeze” bans fundraising or political donations during legislative sessions, and extends 20 days beyond adjournment of special legislative sessions.  

The law clearly states to whom the law applies: sitting office holders, candidates for, or agents working on behalf of state legislator, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, commissioner of public lands or state auditor. 

While the law also applies to the governor and leutenant for governor, it does not apply to gubernatorial candidates.

McQueen quickly deleted his original tweet, but then he doubled down on his ignorance of the intent of the law by calling for a change in the statute to include gubernatorial candidates.

McQueen tweeted, “The prohibited period *does* apply to *candidates* for all of the other statewide offices, but not candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.” In a statement that further demonstrates McQueen’s failure to understand the intent of the law, he added, “Seems like something we should fix.”

He’s right — the discrepancy should be fixed — but not in the way he means.

Prohibited fundraising periods exist to eliminate the appearance of undue influence in the lawmaking process — to prevent lobbyists and other special interest groups from making campaign contributions that influence lawmakers while they’re in session.

“Candidates” for governor who aren’t already the governor have no say over what laws are passed during a legislative session, and thus cannot be influenced by lobbyists contributing to their campaigns during a legislative session. 

But neither do “candidates” for state legislator, attorney general, or secretary of state. 

There are plenty of states that prohibit campaign contributions (or gifts of any kind) to “candidates” of any state office during legislative sessions, and a Woke Democrat Snowflake like McQueen is a likely proponent of pushing for more legislative jargon when less would do. 

But intelligent New Mexicans should not be so quick to conflate the intent of the law with the potentiality of imaginary evils committed by would-be office holders.

One could concoct any number of diabolical conspiracies where moneyed lobbyists make gigantic donations to gubernatorial candidates at the same time an actual governor is signing a democratically passed bill into law and changing her position because of that outside pressure.

But it’s quite a stretch.

What does that say about your political environment that a sitting governor would consider reneging on a legislative commitment because a challenger receives a political donation from a lobbyist who would benefit from a gubernatorial candidate who is friendlier to their cause?

News of such a capitulation would be campaign-ending. As it should. With a free and independent press and an educated electorate, such a revelation would be as damning to the sitting governor who changed course upon hearing about the donation to her opponent’s campaign as it would be to the challenging candidate who accepted it.

Whether it were to become a law or not, to sic the Secretary of State on a gubernatorial candidate for sending a generic tweet asking for campaign donations unrelated to the legislative session seems over the top.

“There is much work to be done to fix our great state, and I can’t do it without your support” isn’t the type of campaign rhetoric that lobbyists would target to influence state law. “If you love New Mexico and want to see it be GREAT again, donate to my campaign today!” is not the talk of backdoor dealers pushing dark money into the halls of the state legislature. 

It’s a rhetorical question, but it should be asked nonetheless. If this was a Democrat candidate tweeting in January 2014 asking for support to defeat Republican Gov. Susana Martinez because there was “much work to be done to fix our great state,” would McQueen have reported it to the secretary of state for a violation of state law?

While certain Republicans would have jumped at the opportunity to criticize a Democrat, they would have been as ignorant of the intent of the “blackout” period as McQueen has shown himself to be.

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