An overwhelming majority of New Mexicans believe that lobbyists should have to make public the bills and issues for which they have been paid to advocate, according to a poll released Monday.
Results of the poll, paid for by the government watchdog group Common Cause New Mexico, also showed that 64 percent of New Mexicans surveyed firmly believe New Mexico’s elected officials are more responsive to lobbyists than to voters. Only 19 percent said they believe elected officials are more responsive to voters.
The telephone poll conducted by New Mexico Research & Polling found wide support for stricter campaign finance disclosures, establishing a state ethics commission and requiring legislators to wait at least two years before becoming lobbyists.
“The results of this poll confirm what we’ve been saying for several years, namely that everyone deserves to know who is lobbying and paying for the campaigns of our elected officials, and everyone should be held accountable for their actions,” Viki Harrison, executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, said in a written statement Monday.
Making lobbyists disclose the bills they are working will be the purpose of legislation to be introduced in the 2015 session by Rep. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces. An 89 percent share of poll respondents said that is a good idea, while only 8 percent said it is a bad idea.
Under current law, lobbyists must submit forms identifying their clients, but there is no mechanism to disclose which individual bills they are working for or against.
The poll asked whether the respondents favor making public all contributions — from individuals, corporations, political action committees, unions or nonprofits. A total of 92 percent favored that idea. That’s up from 87 percent last year.
Nonprofits can’t legally donate directly to candidates, though they can buy “issue ads” that are directed at candidates they support or oppose. Under current law, independent expenditure groups, which are not directly connected to a campaign, are not required to reveal the sources of their money.
The poll is based on results of telephone interviews with 451 registered New Mexico voters, conducted Jan. 9. It has a statistical margin of error of 4 percent.
This story originally appeared in The New Mexican, a sister publication of The Taos News. Contact Steve Terrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his political blog at www.santafenewmexican.com/news/blogs/politics.