Accountability in State Government
- Viki Harrison
Political campaign season is ramping up, and no doubt New Mexicans will quickly tire of telephone calls, television advertisements and radio ads asking for your vote. While these have always been a part of the political process, the avalanche of money in today’s political campaigns is causing a much bigger problem than annoying TV commercials, it is preventing our state elected leaders from solving the big problems our state faces.
For this reason, Common Cause has announced its joint efforts with other New Mexicans to raise the issue of money in politics through our New Mexico Pledge campaign, and help New Mexicans demand change to the current political system. Business and professional leaders throughout the state are joining hands because the future of our state depends on reforming money in politics.
At Common Cause New Mexico, we are dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, and reinventing an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest and empowers ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process.
Among our partners is the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government which is working on the campaign in the capacity of ensuring better disclosure of campaign and lobbying contributions, consistent with its historical commitment to make public information available to all the public. Today’s political system is endangering both of these missions.
Campaign money is coming in from every direction, from people, from groups, from special interests – the list goes on. The current system forces our elected leaders to spend too much time listening to the people who pay for these ads, and too little time listening to the needs of everyday New Mexicans. As a result, our state’s problems continue to mount.
This campaign is working to give a voice back to New Mexicans, and the foundation of our campaign is the “New Mexico Pledge” that outlines specific policy proposals that will make our state government more accountable to all New Mexicans. These policy proposals include:
- Everyone deserves to know – Improve disclosure in elections by making campaign and lobbying activities more open to the public so that the influence of money in elections and legislative decisions is transparent. Develop disclosure technology that makes reporting about election and lobbying activities easier, more transparent, and more affordable for the state. Make clear definitions of coordination between campaigns and independent efforts.
- Everyone is held accountable – Establish a bipartisan ethics and campaign practices commission that provides guidance for public officials to ensure compliance with existing laws and has adequate authority to ensure enforcement and accountability.
- Everyone can participate – Improve, strengthen and expand existing laws making public campaign financing available for candidates for certain offices who agree to limit their fundraising. Thus enabling a more diverse set of candidates to run for office and be accountable to their constituents rather than to their largest campaign contributors.
Go to NewMexicoPledge.org and learn more about the pledge today. Help us restore the core values of American democracy, reinvent an open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest and empower ordinary people to make their voices heard in the political process.
This article first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal.