SANTA FE, N.M. — A settlement agreement that allows Congressman Steve Pearce and other federal politicians to bring stockpiles of campaign cash home to run for New Mexico state offices has been approved.

U.S. District Court Judge Judith Herrera on Monday signed a settlement between Pearce and the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office allowing federal campaign contributions to be transferred to a state campaign if state contributions limits were not exceeded.

Pearce sued last year for access to more than $900,000 in a federal campaign account to use in his run for New Mexico governor as the lone Republican candidate, and won a preliminary injunction in November allowing transfers.

The office of Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver says the settlement aims to prevent loopholes around New Mexico campaign finance law.

Taxpayers could wind up paying for costs of the litigation.

The Pearce campaign says it is seeking to recuperate $160,000 in legal fees from the state, arguing the decision to block campaign fund transfers ran contrary to a 1996 federal court decision that allowed Bill Richardson to funnel federal campaign funds to New Mexico as he prepared to run for governor after leaving Congress.

The Secretary of State’s Office initially said only $11,000 could be transferred by Pearce from his federal election account, based on its reading of state law and the office’s prior correspondence with candidates.

Campaign finance regulators and attorneys for Pearce have two weeks to negotiate a settlement on legal costs, or can leave the matter to the judge in the case.


Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.santafenewmexican.com