Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2019
Contact: press@fairelectionsny.org

FAILURE TO PASS PUBLIC FINANCING IN BUDGET “MISSED OPPORTUNITY”

Fair Elections Campaign Pledges To Hold Elected Officials Accountable for Delivering on Campaign Finance Promises

The Fair Elections for New York campaign offers the following statement:

“A massive grassroots effort came together this year to demand a new day in Albany, with a small-donor matching system that would give everyday New Yorkers a real voice in our political system.  Despite the inclusion of public financing in the Governor’s Executive Budget and the efforts by the Senate Democrats and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to get it done, the Assembly’s unwillingness to come through on its decades-long promise has left us with a Commission that will offer a way to yet again pledge reform with no guarantee of delivering. In addition, the Governor is using a public financing commission as a way to attack fusion voting, something that has nothing to do with a public campaign financing system.

We expect timely appointments to this commission and will provide recommendations. Who is appointed to the commission is critical: New Yorkers deserve only the best, most expert and independent thinkers who are committed to creating a robust public financing system that will encourage candidate and small donor participation. This certainly includes the critical ‘9th’ member of the commission jointly appointed by the Governor, Majority Leader and Speaker without which the commission cannot be fully constituted.  There must be multiple, statewide public hearings by the legislature on public financing of elections and on the role of the commission.

The value of this commission will be determined by the quality of its appointees and the public process it offers to allow every day New Yorkers and experts to shape the outcome.  We intend to hold our elected officials accountable to their promises and make sure New York actually delivers a historic victory without poison pills. We won’t rest until New York has public financing of elections that puts people, not big money, at the center of our political system.  Without it, the laws that impact tenants, public schools, environmental justice, health care, criminal justice and so many other issues will continue to be too greatly shaped by powerful industry influence instead of the people of the state.”

BACKGROUND

Big donors dominate New York’s elections. A recent analysis by the Brennan Center shows that just 100 people donated more to candidates in 2018 than all 137,000 estimated small donors combined.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie have all authored small donor matching systems proposals in the past in attempt to give everyday New Yorkers a voice in the process by matching small donations with public money.  These proposals were consistently blocked by Republicans in the Senate.   

The Fair Elections for New York campaign includes over 200 community, labor, tenant, immigrant, racial justice, environment, faith, good government, and grassroots resistance organizations who came together to pass comprehensive campaign finance reform, including small donor public financing, in this year’s budget.

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New Yorkers deserve a responsive, accountable government. Voter turnout in New York is among the lowest in the nation, due in part to antiquated procedures for registration and voting that discourage participation. And our campaign finance system favors the wealthy over everyday, working New Yorkers. To tackle the crises we face in housing, living wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, climate, fair taxes, and more, we must transform a campaign finance system that advantages the interests of the few over those of the many.