For Immediate Release: October 29, 2019
PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO: https://www.facebook.com/
Fair Elections Advocates and Elected Officials Rally For a Strong Public Financing Program at Commission Hearing
Campaign Submits Letter to Commission Urging Them to Reverse Course & Create “Model for the Nation” Program and Leave Fusion Voting Alone
Commission Has 35 Days to Issue Binding Recommendations to Amplify Voices of Everyday New Yorkers and Lessen Influence of Big Money in NYS Politics
BUFFALO, NY — Fair Elections for New York campaign hosted a rally and press conference today outside a public hearing of the New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission in Buffalo to express concern that the Commission is headed in the wrong direction and to call on commissioners to reverse course on a series of proposals that would lead to what experts agree would be a weak and possibly unworkable system.
The campaign submitted a letter to the Commission and called on the Commission to deliver a meaningful public campaign finance program for the state. Such a program must include at least a 6-to-1 match on all small donations from New Yorkers launching by 2022 for both primary and general elections, contribution limits lower than federal levels for all candidates, and an independent enforcement unit—and to leave fusion voting alone.
With less than four weeks until the Commission’s stated date to submit their proposal ahead of its December 1st deadline, Fair Elections supporters have called for the Commission to commit to releasing an interim bill draft to give the public time to weigh in before the recommendations are final and avoid backroom dealmaking. The Commission’s recommendations are binding and will become law if the Legislature does not act before December 22nd, which is why Fair Elections supporters are also calling on the Legislature—the body elected by New Yorkers—to prepare to act if the Commission falls short.
This Commission was created in response to public outcry over big money in politics and following the grassroots activism of over 200 groups supporting Fair Elections for New York, who made campaign finance reform a top budget issue.
“This Commission was created to make our democracy more responsive and accountable and put an end to the era of big money in politics and backroom legislating. It is the product of New Yorkers from all corners of the state making their voices heard and demanding action. Unfortunately, what we have seen thus far has not come close to the ‘model for the nation’ program that was promised by our elected leaders,” said Dave Palmer, campaign manager, Fair Elections for New York campaign. “We are calling for a strong public campaign financing program that will restore trust by limiting the power of the big money interests and giving everyday New Yorkers a bigger say in Albany. Time is running out but there is still time to course correct and work to create something meaningful. We urge the Commission to put forward at least one draft bill for review before December 1 and the Legislature should return to Albany in December if the Commission final recommendations fall short.”
“Here at the last public hearing of the Public Campaign Financing Commission, the question on everyone’s mind is: will they do the right thing and listen to the hundreds of experts and members of the public who have testified at these hearings, or will they succumb to political pressures behind the scenes?” said Jamaica Miles, State Organizing and Training Director at Citizen Action of New York. “With just 1 month to get the job done, this Commission must focus on creating the ‘model for the nation’ public financing program that Governor Cuomo said they would create.”
“We must find a way to limit the influence big money has in our democracy. It should be ‘one man, one vote.’ Not ‘one dollar, one vote. Fair elections would increase the power of small donations. By matching small-dollar donations 6-to-1, then, and only then, we can amplify the voices of women, of people of color, of the working and middle classes, and of any and all underrepresented New Yorkers in the political process,” said Franchelle Parker, Executive Director Open Buffalo.
“While most families in NY are living paycheck-to-paycheck struggling to pay for basic needs like healthcare and education. New York State currently has the highest ceiling for individuals campaign contributions in the country allowing wealthy people to donate in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year crowding out the interests of working class people,” said Duncan Kirkwood, Citizen Action of New York Member.
“As America’s democracy is under attack and in peril, New York, through the work of this commission, has the chance the show our country a better way forward. By adopting a system of small-donor public campaign financing, everyday New Yorkers will have a bigger voice in politics and wealthy interests will count for less. These types of reforms have worked successfully across the country, but establishing such a program in New York will have an impact like no other, reverberating across the nation,” said Nick Nyhart, national public campaign financing expert.
“Democracy itself is currently facing some of the greatest challenges in our nation’s history. If we believe in this glorious experiment we need to take steps to safeguard our local politics from the endless untraceable money coming from outside our communities. Steps like closing the LLC loophole allowing unlimited contributions from corporations and matching small local donations are the first steps to safeguarding our way of life,” said Aaron Sigel, local business person.
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 ensure comprehensive campaign finance reform, including small donor public financing, was included in this year’s state budget. The campaign plans to hold leaders accountable to their commitment in the budget to deliver Fair Elections reforms this year. Learn more at FairElectionsNY.org
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.
Join our email list to learn about opportunities to contact decision makers and ensure they create a strong public campaign financing system that gives power to everyday New Yorkers.