By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press
SANTA FE, NM (AP) – A federal appeals court on Tuesday dismissed efforts by a libertarian-leaning group in New Mexico to protect future financial contributions from public disclosure in defiance of the City of Santa requirements Fe.
Denver’s 10th District Court of Appeals dismissed an application by the Rio Grande Foundation, based in Albuquerque, to strike down the city’s campaign finance provisions as unconstitutional.
The dispute stems from the failure of a municipal voting initiative in 2017 to tax sugary drinks and boost funding for kindergartens, marked by millions of dollars in election spending.
The Rio Grande Foundation posted a video online criticizing the proposed soda tax, triggering an investigation into possible violations of the city’s campaign finance code.
The foundation complied with a city ordinance and disclosed two relatively minor donations of $ 7,700. He later sought to strike down the city’s bylaws, citing a “chilling effect” on political contributions and, therefore, freedom of speech.
The court noted in its ruling that “mere fear that the speech will not occur does not amount to an affirmative claim that the speech will not actually occur.”
Foundation President Paul Gessing challenged the decision, promising to call for a new hearing.
âThe decision was made due to an alleged lack of reputation, which we strongly disagree with,â Gessing said in an email. âWe will not disclose our donors until or unless the court expressly requires us to do so. We will continue to protect the privacy of our donors to the fullest extent of the law.
The city’s defense has been supported by several political spending transparency advocacy groups, including the Brennan Center for Justice, New Mexico Ethics Watch, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause.
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