House approves bill requiring campaign reporting in largest districts
School board candidates in New Mexico’s largest districts would face a new level of scrutiny under a bill approved Friday by the state House of Representatives.
Candidates in districts with an enrollment of more than 12,000 would have to publicly disclose their campaign contributions and expenses.
The sponsor, Rep. Jim Smith, right, said five of the state’s 89 school districts would fall under the law. A sixth district, Gallup-McKinley, is on the cusp of the enrollment threshold.
Albuquerque, by far the state’s largest school district with about 90,000 students, has seen school board campaigns escalate in cost to five figures per race.
Smith, a Republican and high school science teacher from Sandia Park, said public disclosure of expenses and contributions in those races makes sense. New Mexico Common Cause, a government watchdog organization, is among the groups supporting Smith’s proposal, House Bill 232.
Campaign committees or candidates that receive or spend at least $500 would have to report those transactions to the secretary of state.
In addition to Albuquerque, other school districts that would be affected by the bill are Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Gadsden.
The bill will next be heard in the state Senate, where Democrat Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque will carry it.