The Española City Council has overhauled the city's campaign contribution ordinance in the run-up to the 2008 municipal election.
City Clerk Veronica Martinez proposed the overhaul after reviewing the old election code, which dates back to 1979.
"The city's current code is crazy," Martinez said. "Candidates report three times in a 10-day period, and then they don't even have to file a report after the election."
Mayor Pro Tem Alice Lucero also said the former election code was out of date and was in dire need of updating.
"The old ordinance is such an antique," Lucero said.
Martinez' revisions, which were approved by the Council Tuesday, will now require candidates to file reports three times during the election season: the first Monday in February, the first Monday in March and the first Monday in April. Each report is due by 5 p.m. on the three dates.
The next city election is scheduled for March 4, 2008.
At each deadline candidates will have to submit an itemized report with the following:
• The amount, date, purpose of contribution or expenditure or value of goods and services contributed;
• The name and address of the person or entity who makes a contribution exceeding $50;
• The name and address of each person to whom $250 or more was expended; and
• The name of the person or entity to whom unpaid debt is owed, as well as the amount of the debt and the date it was incurred.
Candidates who raise less than $250 are not subject to such a report, a change from the old $500 cutoff mark.
The $50 limit on reporting individual contributions and expenditures is also lower than the old limit, which was set at $100.
Martinez said her office and, if need be, the municipal court, would handle the enforcement of the new revisions.
If a candidate fails to adhere to the reporting deadlines, he or she could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, a penalty that carries a sentence of $500 fine or 90 days in jail, the new code states.
"I don't know we would go to that extent as to track someone down and throw them in jail, but we could," Martinez said.
The old law, once called "unenforceable" by former city attorney Pete Dwyer, was either not used for years or at other times considered a voluntary system.
Before the 2006 elections, Councilor Alice Lucero said the contribution law hadn't been enforced since 1992, when she was city clerk. During the 2006 campaign, both slates submitted to the code, but the slate of mayoral candidate Floyd Archuleta failed to provide all the information required under the law.
A $10 a day late fine is also provided for in the new code. For each day a candidate is late in submitting a finance report, he or she is charged $10.
The new code also provides for the city clerk to bar candidates from taking elected office if they fail to comply with the code.
The previous election code called for candidates to report contributions three times: the first and second Thursdays before an election and 10 days before the candidate takes office.
Those in violation of the code were considered guilty of a petty misdemeanor and could be barred from taking their elected position, but did not prescribe the $10 late fee now proposed by Martinez.
Despite requiring a campaign treasurer, penalties are levied against the candidate.
"Ultimately it's the candidate's responsibility," Martinez said.
Mayor Joseph Maestas was quick to point out that the election revisions were a campaign promise that his administration had made good on.
"This is another part of our election reform package we promised when we ran," Maestas said.