Just one day after four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court challenging the city’s campaign finance laws, Democrat Mayoral Candidate Pete Dinelli has decided to ask a judge to give him intervener status in the case.
Dinelli says he thinks the election code which prohibits city contractors, owners and key employees, and business agents from making donations to municipal candidates is constitutional and says he wants to “preserve clean elections in Albuquerque.”
Former City Councilor and Attorney Michael Cadigan, who helped write the 2007 (approved by 71 percent of voters), is representing the Committee to Elect Pete Dinelli Mayor.
In the motion, Cadigan wrote that the donation ban was created because “special interests and city contractors are perceived to exercise an undue influence in elections.”
“Campaign contributions by city contractors significantly contribute to a palpable sense of corruption in Albuquerque,” Cadigan wrote.
Cadigan, who use to employee the plaintiff’s attorney Al Park before he left to start his own firm, contends that a ban on city contractors and corporate contributions is justified because it eliminates corruption and the appearance of corruption.
Cadigan also makes the point that the election code was modeled after the federal ban on contributions by federal contractors. That ban has been upheld by numerous courts.
Dinelli’s lawyer claims the current campaign finance rules are fair and ‘strike a balance’ with individuals civil rights – particularly free speech.
The actuality and appearance of corruption is a sufficiently compelling reason to allow the government to limit campaign contributions from contractors and Historically, large contributions Were given to secure a political quid pro quo from current and potential office holders.
Cadigan also writes the ban “protects the integrity of the political process.”
The lawsuit also alleges the City Clerk Amy Bailey has failed to advise candidates that contractor donations are currently banned.
The plaintiffs, which also names the Albuquerque Board of Ethics as defendants, filed the lawsuit on Monday after several groups, including citizens, the Democratic Party of New Mexico, and Pete Dinelli filed ethics complaints again Mayor Richard Berry after they discovered multiple contractors donations listed on the the incumbents first financial report.
Berry’s campaign staff has not returned NM Telegram or answered e-mail questions about the lawsuit.