New Mexico is one of only six states without an ethics commission to hold state officials accountable for any wrongdoing and process complaints from ordinary citizens.
Over the past decade there have been many scandals involving state senators, treasurers and public regulation commissioners. The reputation of our state has suffered and, combined with developments at the national level, an attitude of distrust of government has taken hold.
But that can change!
In November, as voters, we have a chance to bring New Mexico into the mainstream by voting to create an independent commission. It will go a long way toward holding state officials, candidates and contractors accountable when they cross ethical boundaries and violate laws like the governmental conduct act, procurement and lobbyist laws and campaign reporting requirements. The commission would be enshrined in the constitution, thus ensuring that it could not be abolished later by officials who want to avoid oversight.
The commission created by Constitutional Amendment #2 will have its own subpoena power to investigate and resolve complaints. It will hold hearings and issue advisory opinions to help officials do the right thing in confusing gray areas-before they run afoul of the law. In that way it will help prevent corruption.
The seven-member commission will be balanced with no more than three members of the same political party. Appointments will be made by the Governor and the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, who will each appoint one member. The remaining two members will be selected by the appointed members of the commission.
Common Cause New Mexico has worked for an independent commission for decades, and I hope voters don’t let this opportunity slip by just because it’s at the bottom of the ballot. We need to send a message that New Mexico is no open to corruption and no one is above the law. VOTE YES on Constitutional Amendment #2.