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New Mexico poll weighs support for campaign finance reforms

SANTA FE, N.M. — A statewide poll about proposed campaign finance and ethics reforms in New Mexico highlighted broad support among registered voters for more public disclosure of political funding sources.

Common Cause New Mexico, an advocate of new campaign disclosures and ethic regulations, commissioned the survey and published its results Tuesday as the Legislature convened for a 30-day session.

Calls for ethics and campaign finance reforms have surged in the wake of a scandal involving former Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who was prosecuted for misusing political donations to fuel a gambling addiction and completed a 30-day jail sentence on Sunday.

About 77 percent of registered voters strongly supported requirements for public disclosure of large political contributions from individuals, corporations, political action committees, nonprofits and unions. Another 14 percent supported the idea somewhat, and 7 percent opposed the idea.

Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc. conducted the survey, contacting a random sampling of 452 registered voters by telephone and cellphone between Dec. 28 and Jan. 6. The poll had an error margin of 4.5 percentage points.

House Democrats want to create a statewide ethics commission, toughen a pension-forfeiture law aimed at corrupt elected officials, and require that donations funneled to winning candidates for inaugural celebrations be reported like any another campaign contributions. House Republican Jim Dines has floated a separate proposal for an ethics panel that would make findings public.

Republican Gov. Susan Martinez has discretion over whether many of the initiatives can be heard during a 30-day budgetary session. She has indicated support for requirements that public officials report outside income that could pose a conflict of interest.

The new poll found 85 percent support for the creation of an independent state ethics commission, with 66 percent of registered voters expressing strong support.

Opinions were more closely divided on whether limiting the amount of campaign contributions to candidates would help prevent corruption or have an impact on corruption.

Roughly 58 percent said limits would help prevent corruption, down from 68 percent in a similar poll last year. Thirty-one percent said limits would have no impact on corruption and 11 percent said either didn’t know or wouldn’t say.

Among the poll’s other findings:

–Efforts to ban elected officials from taking contributions from industries they regulate had 85 percent support, and 12 percent opposition.

–About 65 percent of respondents strongly supported making former legislators wait two years after leaving office to become paid lobbyists, while 17 percent somewhat supported the idea and 12 percent were opposed.