Money in Politics This Week
Crossposted from the Brennan Center for Justice’s ReformNY blog.
For more stories on an ongoing basis, follow the Twitter hashtag #moNeYpolitics and #fairelex.
New York Campaign Finance and Ethics News
1. A report issued this week by the Center for Working Families finds that Pedro Espada’s contributions from the real estate industry skyrocketed once the ex-state Senate Majority Leader took over the housing committee. The report not only finds that Espada’s fundraising shot up by over 650% once he became Chairman of the housing committee, but that over half of the funds Espada raised from 2009 to 2010 came from the real estate industry—and that only three contributions, totaling a mere $800, came from his own district. The full CFW report can be read here.
2. An analysis by Common Cause of donor data from the most recent state legislative election reveals that the vast majority of contributions in state races originate outside candidates’ home districts. For instance, the data shows that two state Senators, Republican Mark Grisanti and Democrat Tim Kennedy, raised from 75% to 90% of their campaign contributions from wealthy donors living outside their districts
. Additionally, about $3 of every $4 donated to Syracuse’s two state Senators—Democrat David Valesky and Republican John DeFrancisco—came from corporations or groups,
not individuals, and most of that money came from outside the legislators’ district. Susan Lerner, of Common Cause New York, noted that most contributions for state races come “not from the actual voters” but from small clusters of zip codes near the Capitol, Wall Street, and the Upper East and Upper West sides of Manhattan.
National Campaign Finance News
2. Public hostility to Citizens United
and the broadening perception of partisanship on the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to play a major role in the 2012 elections. Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster who works with Priorities USA Action, a Super PAC supporting President Obama’s re-election, said that his polling and focus groups showed that Citizens United
“is probably the best-known decision since Bush v. Gore
.” Garin said: “To the extent it would be a motivating issue this year, it would be for Democratic and independent voters around the Citizens United