Poll: New Mexico Business Leaders Support Campaign Finance and Transparency Reform

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  • Viki Harrison

A new poll of New Mexico business leaders released today shows serious concern about the lack of transparency in New Mexico’s government and campaign finance system. The poll shows overwhelming support for reform amid worries from the business community about the lopsided influence of political donors compared to every day voters. The poll was commissioned by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED), a nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization, and conducted by Research & Polling, Inc.

A sample of 307 New Mexico business leaders was interviewed by telephone. All interviews were conducted between February 2nd, 2015, and February 18th, 2015.

The statewide sample of business leaders included the board members of 11 Chambers of Commerce throughout the state, the largest private sector employers in New Mexico, the largest employers within various business sectors, Albuquerque Economic Forum members, Albuquerque Economic Development (AED) members, and members of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Association (MVEDA). The distribution of the sample is representative of the five geographic regions of the state.

Highlights from the poll include:

  • 71% believe that more transparency is needed in disclosing political contributions.
  • 87% believe that political donors have more influence than average voters; 53% believe that they have a great deal more influence.
  • 68% believe that companies gain some economic advantage in the marketplace by spending on political campaigns.
  • 59% believe that New Mexico’s elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than voters.

“We polled over 300 leaders from a range of industries across New Mexico,” said Brian Sanderoff, President of Research and Polling, Inc. “Their strong concern on issues of transparency and contributor influence suggests that the business community may be a potent voice for state reform.”

Those surveyed show considerable support for the following transparency-increasing proposals:

  • 89% support a requirement that political contributions and expenditures from all sources be made public.
  • 86% support a requirement for lobbyists to make public the bills or issues for which they have been hired to advocate.
  • 76% support the creation of an independent ethics commission to oversee the ethical behavior of state officials.

The poll and its methodology are attached here.

Quotes of Support from New Mexico Business Leaders:

“Our democracy depends on the electorate having trust in the system, but these results reinforce the impression that the well-funded and well-connected have disproportionate sway,” said Ray Smith, Chairman for the Albuquerque Economic Development and President of Klinger Construction. “The numbers make clear that business leaders all across the state support sensible proposals to turn the course, especially requiring more disclosure.”

“Effective state government requires the confidence of the public and the business community,” said Simon Brackley, President and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce. “The adoption of thoughtful transparency and ethics proposals will improve the efficacy of New Mexico state government and, hopefully, promote greater engagement.”

“While business leaders are split on whether New Mexico is heading in the right direction, the vast majority (86%) think that ethics in state government has been a long time problem,” said Roy Martinez, Santa Fe Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President. “There is a great deal of agreement that more transparency is necessary and that the establishment of an independent ethics commission should be among New Mexico’s priorities in the ethics reform process.”

“Most New Mexico business leaders want to focus their energies and resources on the marketplace, said Bryan Chippeaux, Chairman of Century Bank. “ This requires confidence in state government and enhanced transparency will foster that confidence.”

“Transparency is an essential element for business transactions.  It only makes sense that transparency and openness should be required of our political system,” said Nancy Partridge, Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Manager.

“Business executives must now extend their leadership beyond company walls to make the case for a more transparent, ethical campaign finance system,” said Adelmo Archuleta, Owner of Molzen-Corbin & Associates. “Through a diverse coalition from both the public and private sectors, we’ll be able to advance meaningful statewide reforms.”

Founded in 1942, the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization that delivers well-researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues. CED’s work is grounded on seven core principles: sustainable capitalism, long-term economic growth, efficient fiscal and regulatory policy, competitive and open markets, a globally competitive workforce, equal economic opportunity, and nonpartisanship in the nation’s interest. Learn more at www.ced.org.