March 2, 2015

Poll finds business community support lobbying cooldown

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check markA poll of members of the business community in New Mexico finds that they support a ban on legislators working as lobbyists for two years after they leave their position in government.

The results came from a poll conducted by Research and Polling, Inc. for the Committee for Economic Development. The poll was conducted last month and surveyed over 300 business leaders in the state, according to a press release announcing the poll and spoke about issues with lobbying and political donors and their effect on legislators and other elected officials.

The full results of the poll are available here and are embedded below.

CED is a non-profit group that describes itself as “a nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization.”

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

“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.”

Groups that promote ethics in government have been seeking a lobbying cooldown bill and other legislation related to transparency for lobbyists. An even higher amount, 86 percent, say lobbyists should be required to disclose publicly which bills they are being paid to lobby for or against.

The poll found that 80 percent of business leaders surveyed believe that former legislators should wait at least years after their term ends before they can become paid lobbyists. Of those 80 percent, 62 percent say they strongly support.

An ethics commission is also popular, with 52 percent strongly supporting creating such an entity to establish and enforce rules related to ethics, while 24 percent more somewhat supported it. Just 20 percent opposed the legislation.

Political contributions

The business community has long been a key source of political donations.

The poll found high support for public disclosure of all political contributions and expenditures from individuals, corporations, PACs, non-profits and unions—89 percent said it should be required.

When it comes to political donations, those surveyed believed that companies who make political contributions “have an easier time getting meetings with elected officials.” A total of 78 percent believe this is true, while 13 percent say it is not. Over three-quarters, 68 percent, believed spending money on political campaigns gave them some sort of economic advantage; 34 percent said such spending provides a large advantage in the marketplace and an equal 34 percent said a small advantage.

The business leaders also said they felt some pressure to make political contributions—47 percent said some pressure was put on them to make political contributions, while 22 percent said there was a lot of pressure, 21 percent said not very much pressure and just 5 percent said there was “none whatsoever.”

That number when up when asked about being pressured to contribute to political campaigns or parties; 61 percent said they feel some pressure, while 21 percent said they feel a lot of pressure. Just 13 percent said they do not feel any pressure to make such contributions.

The poll of 307 business leaders was conducted by phone between February 2 and February 18 by research and Polling, Inc.

From the polling memo on how “business leaders” were chosen:

Numerous lists were compiled in order to generate a statewide sample of business leaders. The lists 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

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