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End Pay to Play


End Pay to Play

Issue Summary

A series of scandals involving government contractors and lobbyists has undermined public trust in government at a time when state and local governments face serious challenges that will require public confidence and support to solve. Most of these scandals involve "pay to play" corruption in which special interests make political contributions in order to increase their chances of receiving public dollars.

To combat pay to play corruption in New Mexico, in 2009 Think New Mexico published a report recommending that the Legislature and Governor enact legislation prohibiting government contractors, special interests seeking major government subsidies or tax breaks, and registered lobbyists from making political contributions to state or local elected officials. In addition to prohibiting these special interests from donating directly, Think New Mexico recommended barring them from bundling political contributions from other donors and delivering them to candidates.

These reforms would build on New Mexico's Gift Act, which passed the legislature by a strong bipartisan majority and was signed into law by Governor Richardson in 2007. The Gift Act prohibits state contractors, recipients of major government subsidies, and registered lobbyists from making gifts worth more than $250 to state candidates or public officials.

A dozen other states have enacted laws banning political contributions from government contractors, lobbyists, or both, and elected officials in those states report that the reforms have improved the political cultures of their states.

Banning political contributions from lobbyists and those with a financial interest in legislation will reduce corruption and enhance public trust in government. It will also help ensure that scarce public dollars are allocated on the merits, not on politics. Every dollar spent on a politically connected contract or subsidy is a dollar that is not available for important public services.

During the 2010 legislative session, Think New Mexico championed legislation to implement our proposed reforms. House Bill 118 passed the House on a vote of 46-24 before running out of time in the Senate.

Get Involved

Contact your Legislators Think New Mexico's legislative successes are due in large part to the grassroots advocacy of our supporters. During the 2009 legislative session, Think New Mexico supporters sent over 1,400 messages to their legislators and the governor urging them to support our title insurance reform legislation, which ultimately passed by wide, bipartisan margins. If you would like to assist Think New Mexico in our efforts to end pay to play corruption in New Mexico government, please call or write your state legislators and urge them to support legislation banning contributions from government contractors and lobbyists. Ask your legislators to support these reforms.



Contact your Local Media Vocal public support of policy reforms like banning political contributions from government contractors and lobbyists is crucial to making them a reality. Legislators are attentive and responsive to letters to the editors from their constituents. We encourage you to express your support for ending pay to play corruption through the media, as well as directly to your representatives. The Media section of Think New Mexico's Action Center provides the names and contact information for your local media, including newspapers, radio stations, and television stations, and you can compose and send any of them an email or letter right from the page.

Resources & Media


Pay to Play Policy Report Read Think New Mexico's policy report on ending pay to play corruption in New Mexico



Coalition in Support of Ending Pay to Play Corruption


What do Connecticut's Democratic state legislature and Republican governor agree on? That their state's ban on political contributions by registered lobbyists and government contractors has transformed the state's political culture for the better.


Newspaper Articles & Editorials

Read a letter to the editor of the Albuquerque Journal about Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • March 31, 2012


Read Santa Fe New Mexican editorials in support of Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • February 6, 2011February 20, 2010December 6, 2009October 25, 2009


Read Albuquerque Journal article on the progress of Think New Mexico's legislation to ban political contributions by lobbyists and major government contractors • March 4, 2011


Read Las Cruces Sun-News editorial endorsing Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • November 8, 2009


Read Truth or Consequences Herald editorial endorsing Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • October 21, 2009


Read Rio Grande Sun editorial endorsing Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • October 15, 2009


Read Santa Fe New Mexican story on Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • October 11, 2009


Read Associated Press article on Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • October 11, 2009


Radio Stories

Listen to KSFR Santa Fe Public Radio "Our Times" program featuring Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • June 25, 2011 (mp3, 52:04)


Listen to KSFR Santa Fe Public Radio story on Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption • October 27, 2009 (mp3, 11:41)


Listen to KSVP Artesia AM 990 Interview with Associate Director Kristina Fisher about Think New Mexico's initiative to end pay to play corruption Part I (mp3, 5:27) and Part II (mp3, 6:26)October 23, 2009


Blogs, Online Media, and Other

Read Think New Mexico's opinion editorial on Heath Haussamen's nmpolitics.netOctober 12, 2009





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