AAA  Jan. 28, 2015 6:10 AM ET
Labor and education top list of New Mexico election donors
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(AP) — A new analysis by a watchdog group shows education and labor unions were among the top spenders in New Mexico state races during the 2014 election cycle.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent more than $790,000, while the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico combined to spend more than $1 million.

The figures were released Wednesday by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity. The group tabulated the spending based on disclosures by candidates and state political parties.

The data does not count direct spending on a race — for example, money used to buy a TV ad that tells voters it was sponsored by the "Republican Governors Association." Rather, the analysis looked at donations to candidates and groups, who then used that money for such spending.

Carter Bundy, political and legislative director of the public employee labor union in New Mexico, said the numbers reflect that unions comply with campaign finance laws and report everything.

"People who oppose workers' rights and try to keep wages low and use dark money, don't end up reporting it," Bundy said. "Until that stuff starts getting disclosed there's no way you can say that unions are large spenders because we get outspent by big out-of-state corporations across the country and here."

Right-to-work legislation has been introduced in New Mexico. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has voiced support, saying in her State of the State address that workers should have the choice whether they want to join a union or contribute to one.

With the November election, Republicans gained control of the state House for the first time in 60 years. While the legislation stands a better chance of moving through that chamber, Democrats remain in control of the Senate and have vowed to block such measures.

Election spending by the National Education Association on New Mexico state races topped $693,200 last year, according to the Center for Public Integrity

Charles Bowyer, executive director of the NEA of New Mexico, said much of that spending was done by the national group. He said the organization believed it was important to preserve a pro-public education state Legislature.

"That was really the purpose of the spending," he said.

Bowyer said the organization will work with lawmakers to preserve the rights of public school employees.

Democratic gubernatorial challengers Gary King and Alan Webber rounded out the list of top election spenders. King spent more than $642,000 and Webber $403,000, according to the campaign finance analysis.

Associated Press
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