COMMENTARY: Some prominent Las Crucens are tossing unfair accusations at an out-of-town super PAC that has been spending lots of money to influence Tuesday’s city election.
Former Las Cruces Mayor Ruben Smith authored a commentary in which he accused GOAL WestPAC of not telling us who’s behind its work, where it’s located, or what it stands for. Smith based his allegations on an unfinished “about” page on the group’s website that lacked such information.
Activist and columnist Peter Goodman questioned in his own commentary why the PAC didn’t register with the City Clerk’s Office. He also alleged that GOAL West is “controlled” by U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, GOAL West has raised $80,000 for its efforts to defeat certain candidates in Las Cruces. It has been spending heavily in the last week or so on mailers, robocalls and other media.
The PAC was started in 2013 by Pearce, who later asked for his initial $10,000 donation back because of criticism from Democrats. Today his office says he has no official involvement in GOAL West.
At a time when so many other political groups hide details about themselves and their donors from the public, accusing GOAL West of secrecy is unfair. I’ve published two articles detailing who’s behind GOAL West’s work and who’s funding its efforts. I was able to do that because GOAL West has been transparent.
The fact is that GOAL West registered with the City Clerk’s Office and filed its first finance report on Friday. The group legally could have waited until this week to do that. It might have avoided scrutiny of its donors until after Tuesday’s election if it had waited.
Instead, GOAL West chose to file its first finance report days earlier than was required.
Also fact is that we know a great deal about who’s involved in the PAC. We know where it’s located. And we know much about the work it’s doing. From that we can learn a lot about its philosophy.
As to the allegation that the PAC is “controlled” by Pearce: That could be illegal. In the court of public opinion GOAL West might be tied to Pearce, but the public has seen no evidence to back up the allegation that Pearce is controlling the PAC’s work. And Goodman presents no evidence to back up that claim.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision tossed out our ability to regulate fundraising and spending by independent groups like GOAL West. But the Court made clear that local, state and federal governments can require transparency.
At a time when so many groups are engaged in politicking without disclosing information about their fundraising and spending, GOAL West is doing the opposite. Kudos to the group for being transparent — which gives us, the public, the ability to learn about its involvement in Las Cruces and decide how we want to respond on Election Day and beyond.