- Associated Press - Friday, September 8, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Nonprofit advocacy organizations that spend unlimited amount of money to influence elections in New Mexico will have to disclose the names of contributors, under rules adopted by state elections officials Friday.

The new requirements are set to go into effect on Oct. 10 - in time for 2018 primary and general elections - for so-called dark money groups that spend at least $2,500 on a statewide election or ballot measure.

Democratic New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver said vague and confusing rules are being cleaned up and that the changes will “help shine a light on the dark money that has been plaguing our state’s campaigns.”

Several conservative-backed groups with a statewide and national presence say Toulouse Oliver is overstepping her authority and that naming contributors to independent expenditure groups would stifle free speech.

“If implemented and left unchallenged, this measure will freeze open debate in New Mexico and expose many citizens to harassment and intimidation over the causes they support,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director for Concerned Veterans for America, a group that does not disclose its financial backers. He said that opposition to the new measures was downplayed by state officials.

Proponents say the new rules will allow voters to better understand which individuals and business interests stand behind political advertising. Supporters of the changes include New Mexico chapters of the League of Women Voters and the campaign finance policy group Common Cause.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez in April vetoed a bill containing many similar provisions that had broad, bipartisan support among lawmakers.

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