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Silver rallies for public campaign finance in the budget

3/11/14 · By Will Brunelle · Capital New York

ALBANY—Proponents of public campaign finance said at a Tuesday rally that their best chance for its adoption is through the state budget.

They praised Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat from lower Manhattan, who committed to putting a system that matches small donations into a budget resolution his house is set to adopt this week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has put a similar system in his budget proposal, and Republican-allied Democrats in the State Senate are pushing to insert it into that house’s one-house proposal, over G.O.P. Resistance.

“The Assembly majority is leading the way, it has been leading the way, and it will do it again this week,” Silver said.

He said the bill would “level the playing field for New Yorkers” by increasing transparency and limiting “big money donations” from corporations and for-profits in order to “safeguard the electoral process,” according to Silver.

He added: “You all have until April 1st to convince the Senate to do the right thing and pass campaign finance reform.”

Scott Sommer of the United Auto Workers addressed ralliers who filled an ornate, sandstone staircase at the Capitol by urging them not to accept delay.

“If anybody is telling you they want it out of the budget, they’re telling you they don’t want you to have a voice,” he said.

Fiscally conservative groups including Unshackle Upstate argue against public financing for elections as nothing more than “labor’s latest effort to enhance their political influence at the expense of taxpayers.”

Bob Master, political director for the Communications Workers of America, took a shot at the current system in his speech, saying it was “legalized bribery and legalized corruption, and it goes on every day.”