Buffalo News Calls for Campaign Finance Reform in New York
New York’s political landscape, with its sky-high campaign contribution limits, is easily dominated by big money contributors – a situation compounded by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recognized that we must take immediate action to halt the pernicious pay-to-play environment that currently overshadows the democratic process in our state. In his State of the State, Gov. Cuomo pledged to make campaign finance reform a main tenet of his legislative priorities and to support public financing of elections.
We have, over the years, in study after study, detailed a deeply disquieting situation. It is one that causes the public to perceive that special interest campaign dollars and not the public interest is a controlling factor in Albany. This disillusionment of the political system process has fostered great momentum for making this pledge for public financing a reality now. The Buffalo News recently published an editorial in support of public financing in NYS as a way to counter the overwhelming influence of special interest money. I applaud the Editorial Board for using their power of the pen to push the State Senate leadership to bring this badly needed reform to a floor vote.
There is constant pressure on elected officials to raise money for their campaigns. We force even the best elected officials into impossible situations and without comprehensive campaign finance reform in the form of a public financing system that helps to both clearly articulate the “line” for elected officials and constituents alike, our system will be plagued with not only abuse but the perception of abuse. This will lead to a continuation of the widening disparity between the amount of dollars contributed by special interests and those given by small contributors. We need to put elections back into the hand of voters.
A robust public financing system will accomplish the following in New York:
- Emphasize and amplify the impact of small dollar donations
- Encourage district and voter directed campaigning over “dialing for dollars” and special interest fund-raising
- Decrease significantly the amount of time candidates must spend fund-raising
- Increase the involvement and “investment” of small dollar donors and grassroots participants in our state election campaigns
We’re lucky that we have a Governor who made campaign finance reform a main tenet of his campaign – now it’s time – as the Buffalo News Editorial page recently stated- for the leadership in the State Senate to follow through as well. I echo their sentiments:
“Even if the Senate leadership doesn’t want public financing, it deserves to come to a vote. Then all New Yorkers can see where their senator stands.”