Today in Albany, Buffalo, Brooklyn, and Binghamton, we hosted press conferences showing the corrosive influence of money in our politics. With just eight days left in the legislative session, there has been little action on moving two important pieces of legislation – one that would increase the minimum wage and one that would create Fair Elections, publicly financed elections for New York.

Though these two issues may seem completely unconnected, that’s not the case. Research released today shows that organizations and corporations opposed to increasing minimum wage overwhelmingly contributed to the campaigns of Senate Republicans who have been the biggest roadblock to both Fair Elections and increasing the minimum wage.  These organizations gave 71% out of nearly $400,000 to Senate Republicans and their campaign committees.

It just goes to show that as long as the current campaign finance system is in place, the Legislature is free to ignore the will of the people who support both an increase in the minimum wage and Fair Elections. Monied interests are using the current system to buy the policies they want and the rest of New York’s hard-working families are left by the wayside. This is not what democracy is. With the legislative session coming to a close, it’s time for the State Legislature to act now.

Organizations taking part in today’s various press conferences include Citizen Action of New York, Working Families Party, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Labor-Religion Coalition, Hunger Action Network, PUSH Buffalo, MoveOn, Bay Ridge Democrats, Downtown Independent Democrats, Occupy Albany, and the Coalition for Economic Justice. The Fair Elections for New York campaign is a coalition of well over 100 groups calling for fundamental change in campaign finance.

Below you’ll find the press release and the new research, along with photos and press mentions.

Photos from Albany

Photos from Buffalo

Photos from Brooklyn


Press Release

Minimum Wage Opponents Donate $400k to State Senate Campaigns

Community Calls on State Senate to Pass Minimum Wage Increase and Fair Elections

Albany, NY – On Monday, community, faith, Occupy, labor organizations, and Capital District residents joined in support of an increase in the minimum wage and a system of publicly financed Fair Elections in New York. Those gathered released new research compiling campaign contributions to State Senators and political committees by corporations, organizations, and lobbyists who have advocated against an increase in the minimum wage. The contributions totaled almost $400,000 statewide since January 2010.

As the end of this year’s legislative session nears, organizations advocating for Fair Elections and a minimum wage increase, proposals that both enjoy overwhelming support among New Yorkers, called on the State Senate to take action. They cited the massive influence of big money that CEO campaign contributors can have over public policy decisions as a key reason why a system of Fair Elections is so important.

Of the $399,436.87 contributed by opponents of a minimum wage increase to State Senators’ campaigns and party committees since January 2010, $283,356.87 – or 71% – was received by Republicans and Republican-affiliated committees. Democrats received $116,080 from those donors. Republicans have consistently opposed Fair Elections and a minimum wage increase.

Party committees received the largest amounts, with the State Republican housekeeping account receiving $75,000, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee housekeeping account receiving $50,936, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee housekeeping account receiving $45,691.34. The Senate Republican Campaign Committee received $23,950, and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee received $22,594.

Senator Skelos, the Senate Majority Leader, received the largest sum of any individual Senator, taking in $17,500. Senators Gallivan, DeFrancisco, Libous, and Saland rounded out the top five, receiving $10,150, $10,000, $8,950, and $8,350 respectively.

The top donors were the New York Association of Convenience Stores and its principle members, contributing $133,613, and the Retail Council of New York State and its principle members, donating $59,598.87.

“New Yorkers will never be sure that their priorities are being addressed by their elected officials until those elected officials are able to run campaigns without being subjected to the corrosive influence of CEO campaign cash,” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. “It’s the CEOs, huge corporations, and their lobbyists that consistently oppose common sense legislation supported by a majority of New Yorkers. Working families across New York are suffering at the expense of those who know they can spend a few thousand in campaign contributions and make millions in return. It’s time for our elected officials to stand up for us by increasing the minimum wage and passing Fair Elections.”

“The resistance to increasing the minimum wage is a prime example of how big money and elite interests in New York are able to wield disproportionate power to prevent the passage of a law that is desperately needed and has overwhelming public support. It is a disgrace,” said Colin Donnaruma of Occupy Albany.

Recipient  Amount
New York Republican State Committee – Housekeeping  $   75,000.00
NYS Democratic Senate Campaign Committee – Housekeeping  $   50,936.00
NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee – Housekeeping  $   45,691.34
NYS Senate Republican Campaign Committee  $   23,950.00
NYS Democratic Senate Campaign Committee  $   22,594.00
Skelos, Dean G.  $   17,500.00
Gallivan, Patrick M.  $   10,150.00
DeFrancisco, John A.  $   10,000.00
Libous, Tom  $     8,950.00
Saland, Stephen M.  $     8,350.00
Sampson, John L.  $     7,750.00
Nozzolio, Michael F.  $     7,000.00
Breslin, Neil D.  $     6,950.00
Valesky, David J.  $     6,900.00
Alesi, James S.  $     6,303.97
Maziarz, George D.  $     6,250.00
Young, Catharine  $     5,850.00
McDonald, Roy J.  $     5,450.00
Ritchie, Patty  $     5,000.00
Hannon, Kemp  $     5,000.00
Klein, Jeffrey D.  $     4,500.00
Farley, Hugh T.  $     4,350.00
Seward, James L.  $     4,175.00
Grisanti, Mark  $     4,150.00
Griffo, Joseph A.  $     4,000.00
Robach, Joseph E.  $     3,875.00
Fuschillo, Charles J., Jr.  $     3,711.56
Larkin, William J., Jr.  $     3,700.00
Adams, Eric  $     3,500.00
Marcellino, Carl L  $     3,200.00
Gianaris, Michael  $     3,000.00
Krueger, Liz  $     2,000.00
Golden, Martin J.  $     1,800.00
Carlucci, David  $     1,750.00
Flanagan, John J.  $     1,750.00
Little, Elizabeth  $     1,700.00
Ranzenhofer, Michael H.  $     1,650.00
Peralta, José  $     1,500.00
Perkins, Bill  $     1,500.00
O’Mara, Thomas F.  $     1,250.00
Ball, Greg  $     1,000.00
Lanza, Andrew J  $     1,000.00
Duane, Thomas  $     1,000.00
Serrano, Jose M.  $     1,000.00
Bonacic, John J.  $        600.00
LaValle, Kenneth P.  $        500.00
Smith, Malcolm A.  $        500.00
Johnson, Owen H.  $        500.00
Avella, Tony  $        350.00
Savino, Diane J.  $        250.00
Kennedy, Timothy  $        100.00
Total  $ 399,436.87
Top 10 Donors Amount
WAL-MART  $   41,875.00
ANHEUSER BUSCH  $   33,600.00
WALGREEN’S  $   25,375.00
MCDONALD’S  $   23,000.00
SPRINT NEXTEL  $   16,500.00

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