Money in Politics This Week
Crossposted from the Brennan Center for Justice’s ReformNY blog.
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New York Campaign Finance and Ethics News
1. In a radio interview this week, Gov. Cuomo renewed the call for statewide campaign finance reform,
decrying the corrosive effect that super PACs and high contribution limits continue to have on electoral politics in Albany. “The power of money in the Capitol is unbelievable,” Gov. Cuomo said. Cuomo has pledged to implement a public financing system similar to New York City’s small donor matching program, as well as to improve enforcement of state campaign finance laws, close campaign finance loopholes and lower contribution limits.
2. The debate over public financing has begun in the state Senate,
with the introduction of new legislation by Senator Eric Adams, which would establish a public financing program, create an independent enforcement counsel in the State Board of Elections, lower contribution limits and improve disclosure of independent political spending. At a press conference called by Senate Democrats, Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson told reporters that public campaign finance would dilute the influence of moneyed interests and enhance the power of small donors. Sen. Tom Duane added that Gov. Cuomo’s support is crucial for a bill’s passage, observing that the governor’s track record on marriage reform and pension benefits is clear evidence that “when he puts his mind to something, he can win.”
National Campaign Finance News
2. Nate Silver writes in the New York Times
, however, that small contributions ($200 or less) still make up over half of the president’s total contributions during the current election cycle,in contrast to a mere 13% of Mitt Romney’s campaign contributions
. Silver notes that in the current era of super PACs and big-ticket fundraisers, the dearth of small contributions does not indicate a weak campaign budget so much as it suggests a lack of support among grassroots Republican voters.
5. Redistricting in California’s 53 congressional districts has set off a wave of hyper-partisan fundraising by super PACs,
as both parties see California races as crucial to winning a majority in the U.S. House this fall. Super PACs such as American Crossroads, partly managed by Karl Rove, and the GOP Congressional Leadership Fund, to which billionaire Sheldon Adelson has contributed $5 million, are expected to play a leading role. Bill Allison, editorial director of the nonpartisan watchdog organization Sunlight Foundation, predicted that “After the election, it is these donors who will have access and entree to Congress at a level that will be unbelievable compared to what we’ve seen before.”