U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

NM Rep. Pearce Can Use Fed. Campaign Cash in Governor's Race

The Federal District Court for New Mexico issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state's Secretary of State from limiting the amount of money Representative Steve Pearce can transfer over from his prior federal campaign to his state bid for the governor's office.

Pearce apparently has (or at this point, maybe, had) nearly a million dollars just sitting in his federal campaign account. However, the New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver limited Pearce from transferring more than $11,000 from that account to his state campaign account due to New Mexico's campaign finance laws. The federal court disagreed and issued an injunction allowing Pearce to access the funds while the matter is pending in the courts.

Partisan Politics and Jurisprudence

Potentially underlying this entire case is partisan politics. The Secretary of State is a democrat, while Pearce is a republican. Notably, the judge issuing the order, Justice Judith Herrera, was appointed by President George W. Bush. Interestingly though, when this same issue was broached with the prior, republican Secretary of State, Brad Winter, he reached the same conclusion as Oliver.

Oliver asserts that the law is clear and that one campaign cannot contribute to another campaign more than $5,500 for the primary election, and $5,500 for the general election. Pearce's lawsuit asserts that this rule is being discriminatorily applied and violates his First Amendment free speech rights.

Without this injection of capital, Pearce would likely be monetarily behind at least a few of the four potential democratic gubernatorial candidates. But he is the lone GOP candidate, which could play in his favor if the democratic primary does not result in a clear frontrunner that the party supports.

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