Thursday, May 05, 2005


New Mexico Democrats Found in Violation of Election Laws

from Press Reports

FEC v. Democratic Party of New Mexico, et al., Civil Action No. 02-0373.


WASHINGTON -- On April 29, 2005, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico signed a consent judgment reflecting an agreement between the Federal Election Commission and the Democratic Party of New Mexico. As part of this agreement the Democratic Party and its Treasurer will pay a civil penalty of $60,000 for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). The case is FEC v. Democratic Party of New Mexico, et al., Civil Action No. 02-0373.

Multiple violations stem from a complaint regarding a 1997 Special Election held to fill the vacancy in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional district when Governor Bill Richardson accepted the Clinton administration appointment as Secretary of Energy. Violations stem from (1) the Democratic Party paying for get-out-the-vote (GOTV) communications for the Special Election using a combination of federal and non-federal funds, urging voters to vote Democratic. The Federal Election Commission ruled that because Eric Serna was the only Democratic candidate on the ballot, the communications were express advocacy for the candidate, and therefore by law had to be paid using only federal funds. In addition to the civil penalty, the Democratic Party has been ordered to transfer $86,900 from its federal to its non-federal account.

The FEC investigation also determined (2) that the Democratic Party coordinated its GOTV communications with the Serna Committee through extensive interactions between representatives of both committees. The Democratic Party made contributions to, and coordinated expenditures on behalf of, the Serna Committee in excess of statutory limits. (3) The Demoicratic Party failed to report these disbursements as coordinated expenditures, as required by law.

Finally, (4) the Serna Committee violated federal election law by knowingly accepting direct and in-kind contributions from the Democratic Party in excess of the statutory limits.

A copy of the consent judgment is available from the Federal Elction Commission’s Press Office at (202) 694-1220.

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