We are under attack by an unprecedented wave of special interest money, and New York State has one of the worst campaign finance systems in the country, with absurdly high contribution limits, limited enforcement, and gaping loopholes. Individuals can contribute more than $60,000 to candidates in a statewide election and unlimited contributions are allowed to political party’s “housekeeping” accounts by individuals and corporations. It’s a system that is built for the big donor, not the average voter.
It is working to reform New York’s campaign finance system—to reduce the influence of money and special interests in state elections, engage more citizens in the political process, and create a model for national reform. It is leading an advocacy campaign, accompanied by targeted electoral efforts through it, to build a majority for reform in the New York State Legislature.
One needn’t look far for a blueprint for reform. New York City’s campaign finance system, which includes public matching funds, is a strong model for statewide and national reform. In New York City, small donor contributions up to $175 are matched 6:1. Contribution limits are reasonable, and enforcement is consistent. Since this system was enacted more than twenty years ago, more New York City residents have taken part in the political process by voting and contributing to candidates, and special interest influence has decreased.
It is working to pass comprehensive campaign finance reform in New York state that includes low-dollar matching funds, lower contribution limits, and greater transparency and enforcement. We stand with the 74% of New York State voters who support campaign finance reform that includes lower contribution limits and a system of public campaign funding. (Source: January 2012 Siena Poll.)
Passing a campaign finance reform bill—including public matching funds—will require a targeted electoral and advocacy strategy to build a majority for reform in the New York State Legislature and grow outside momentum and pressure. We will work with the Cuomo administration, lawmakers, coalition partners, and New York voters to pass robust campaign finance reform in New York during the 2012-2013 legislative session.
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