Thirty Groups Urge Governor to Establish Public Financing System and Independent Enforcement Unit

New York — Thirty leading business, progressive, labor, and good-government groups united to deliver a letter to Governor Cuomo Thursday urging him to include a system of public financing of elections and an independent elections enforcement unit in this year’s Executive Budget. Arguing that inclusion in the budget is the Governor’s best opportunity to enact campaign finance reform, the letter details the necessity of moving swiftly to curb corruption and reduce the undue role of campaign money in state government by passing a system of public financing. Citing the fiscal impacts of both reforms in the letter, the groups called on the Governor to use the state budget process to advance the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption’s priority recommendations.

Cynthia DiBartolo, Chairperson of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce:
“Small and medium-sized business are New York’s most dynamic job creating engine, and we need legislators willing to act on their concerns. We cannot continue to foster a system that risks elevating businesses with the best political connections and largest check writing capability above those with the best business practices.”

Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program:
“The Moreland Commission presented strong evidence that New York’s campaign finance system is broken, and in desperate need of immediate, comprehensive reform. Two critical elements of that reform — robust, independent enforcement and the creation of a matching system for small donations — need to be addressed in this year’s budget in order to ensure more transparent elections that elevate the voice of average New Yorkers.”

Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York:
“By including public financing of elections in his budget, Governor Cuomo would be sending a strong signal that he intends to restore the public’s trust in their government by enacting meaningful reform. New Yorkers need to be sure that their elected leaders are working for them, not CEO campaign contributors. That’s why Albany needs to pass publicly financed elections as part of the budget.”

Dan Cantor, Executive Director, Working Families Party:
“For three years, Governor Cuomo has taken a public stand in favor of public financing of elections only to be stymied by the Republican Senate. He has one powerful tool to force them to yield: include campaign finance reform in his Executive Budget. They will howl, but they howl about everything. Passage of a “fair elections” system will make New York the national leader on the question of whether it’s “one person, one vote” or “one dollar, one vote.”

Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY:
“As Governor Cuomo made clear in the State of the State, comprehensive campaign finance reform built around a core of public financing, is essential to restoring the people’s trust in government. With the recent conviction of Assemblyman Stevenson, the body count of corruption is now at 33. That’s why Common Cause/NY is urging the Governor to take decisive action and include public financing in the state budget. We must stem the tide of corruption which has engulfed Albany and made a mockery of our state government.”

Nick Nyhart, President & CEO, Public Campaign:
“Gov. Cuomo has voiced support for publicly financed Fair Elections in the past, and should take the lead on enacting this long overdue reform by including it in his budget. The Cuomo-appointed Moreland Commission came out strongly in favor of Fair Elections, and he should heed their call. New Yorkers have suffered long enough with a state government that has warped its priorities in favor of the money over the many. Gov. Cuomo should strengthen the voices of ordinary people by pushing for Fair Elections reform in his budget.”

Lisa Tyson, Director, Long Island Progressive Coalition:
“This year’s budget is a perfect place for Governor Cuomo to show his commitment to ending the current corrupt election system in New York State. A publicly-financed system with real transparency and enforcement is the change that is needed now. Long Islanders are ready for a fair election system that truly values the voice and vote of the people.”

Julie Kushner, Director, United Auto Workers Region 9A:
“Governor Cuomo has made rooting out corruption in Albany a cornerstone of his administration. A key component of achieving that goal is a system of fair elections which includes a transparent, publicly financed system of campaign financing. Having elected officials beholden to the public and not big money will strengthen our state and our democracy. We call on the Governor to include publicly financed campaign finance reform in his Executive Budget.”

Jaron Benjamin, Executive Director, Met Council on Housing:
“New York City tenants need publicly financed elections. The real estate lobby is the biggest spender on Albany elections, and it’s no coincidence that rent regulations are being phased out. Governor Cuomo has a great opportunity to lead by enacting the measure in the state budget.”

Susan Weber of Albany, Regional Director for
“Comprehensive reform of our election system, with public financing as the keystone, is the only way to banish the corrupting influence of big money. Public financing will provide enough funding for regular citizens to get their message out before the public and run a viable campaign. We look to Governor Cuomo’s leadership to get election reform done before another election based on large donors and pay to play.”

Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen:
“There can be no ethical government when elections are for sale. To eradicate corruption and fulfill its boundless aspirations, New York needs public financing for its public elections. That means public financing needs to be included in the state budget.”

Michael Kink, Executive Director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition:
“Investments in a stronger democracy can get New Yorkers economic policies that are more effective and more fair — and that will improve trust in government. This year’s budget is the right place to start.”

Heather McGhee, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for Demos:
“New Yorkers deserve a government where the size of your wallet doesn’t determine the impact of your voice or your right to representation. Public financing of elections helps put people back at the center of our democracy by making elected officials more accountable to the people in their communities, not just their big campaign contributors. We urge Governor Cuomo to take action and show real leadership on this crucial issue by including public financing in his budget.”

Sam Massol, Executive Director, BridgeRoots:
“There is no more important step towards reform and empowerment of communities than comprehensive campaign finance reform. We urge the Governor to continue in step with the people of New York, who have clearly expressed their desire for empowerment and diversification of State Government.”

Barbara Lawton, President/CEO, Americans for Campaign Reform:
“We urge Governor Cuomo to take advantage of this opportunity to both leave an enduring legacy for the people of New York, and provide powerful leadership to a nation hungry for genuine reform. Governor, please include funding for public financing of elections and the means to enforce it.”