For Immediate Release: March 8, 2019
Fair Elections for New York Hails House Passage of Public Financing; Calls on New York To Pass ‘Fair Elections’ in Budget
Albany, NY — In response to the passage of the comprehensive democracy reform package H.R. 1 in the United States House of Representatives, the Fair Elections for New York campaign issued the following statement:
“Across the country people are standing up to demand fair elections and a democracy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest among us,” said Dave Palmer, campaign manager of Fair Elections for New York. “H.R. 1, Democrat’s answer, was sponsored by every single Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. We commend the House, and every Democrat from the New York congressional delegation, for hearing the voice of the people and passing H.R.1 with small donor public financing as its centerpiece — the single best solution to address big money’s undue influence in our politics. New York has a chance to lead the nation and become the first state to implement a small donor match, as long as our elected officials don’t back away from their commitments and accept the big-money status quo.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo, Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie have all authored small donor matching systems proposals in the past that were consistently blocked by Republicans in the State Senate. The Governor has once again included a small donor matching proposal in this year’s executive budget, and with supportive majorities now in control of both the Assembly and Senate, the path is clear to get the job done.
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 are building momentum to pass comprehensive campaign finance reform, including small donor public financing, in this year’s budget.
Statements from Fair Elections for New York Supporters:
“Today, House Democrats passed HR1, a package for fair elections. It’s now time for “fair elections” here in New York. The budget we are finalizing this month is the perfect time to pass a small-donor matching system and make sure wealthy donors and special interests do not continue to have too much influence in Albany,” said New York State Senator Jessica Ramos.
“One of the main reasons why people of color are under served and underrepresented by our government is that our election system is infected with dirty money and our people face unreasonable barriers to voting. We cannot expect to achieve racial justice and meet the immediate needs of many people of color, such as housing, criminal justice reform, education, and jobs, without also implementing comprehensive campaign finance reform,” said New York State Senate Elections Committee Chair Zellnor Myrie
“In H.R. 1, we have the greatest hits of democracy reform. It’s no accident that small donor public financing is central to this package — it’s the single best way we have to reduce the power of big money over politics,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “In New York State, small donor public financing is tantalizingly close to becoming reality. Our leaders must not fall down on the job — not so soon after we heralded the new, progressive, united Albany. For decades in New York politics, the voices of regular New Yorkers have been drowned out by the wealthy few. Crucial reforms have been stifled. That’s not what democracy looks like. Small donor public financing would help set New York straight. The state would become a leader for the whole nation to follow.”
“The passage of HR1 in the U.S. House sends a clear message that people–not billionaires–should be at the center of our politics,” said Jessica Wisneski, Co-Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York. “We applaud our New York Congressional delegation for their leadership. New York can show the same commitment to people-powered democracy by including small donor public financing in their budget proposals.”
“During this legislative session, New York has the opportunity to lead the nation and strengthen the voice of immigrants and working class communities of color by passing comprehensive finance reform, including small donor public financing,” saidJavier H. Valdés, Co-executive Director of Make the Road New York. “A 6-to-1 small donor matching program will allow New Yorkers to push back and limit big money from corporations and extremely wealthy people from controlling our elections. In this state’s budget we must reclaim our democracy so every New Yorker can be equally represented during state elections.”
“When our elections are dominated by wealthy, majority white donors, our elected representatives are less likely to prioritize the needs of poor and working class,” said L. Joy Williams, President of Brooklyn NAACP. “Here in New York, we have a chance to lead the nation and pass small donor public financing, the proposal at the heart of H.R. 1, into law. We can create a democracy that works for everyone.”
“We applaud the House of Representatives for taking the historic step of passing the sweeping democracy reform bill, HR1, which includes campaign finance reform with a small donor match. It’s an exciting precedent that we hope our local leaders in Albany follow this month when they have the opportunity make New York a national leader by passing a similar proposal in the state budget,” said Héctor Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU. “The proposed NYS Fair Elections legislation would fix New York’s campaign finance rules, which are some of the worst in the country, and make our state more democratic. At the heart of our support of Fair Elections for New York is a deep seeded understanding that every day people, like our members, should be able to represent their communities and run for political office. Small donor matching is the most effective way to counter the financial imbalance in our electoral system. Our New York legislature has shown it can lead on democracy by quickly passing much-needed voting reforms the first week of the legislative session. With 100% of New York’s House Democrats on board, the top three leaders in the state authoring the Fair elections proposal, and a long standing commitment from Governor Cuomo, now is the time to finish the job and pass public financing reform with the Fair Elections bill.”
“We are at a key moment in history for our nation’s democracy,” said Jonah Minkoff-Zern, Director of Public Citizen’s Democracy’s Is For People campaign. “We in New York can take strong action to make it better, as the House has done today with the passage of HR 1, or we can accept a nation increasingly ruled by a small group of powerful elite. The choice is in the hands of our legislators and Governor who have committed to act in the past and should do so now that they have the chance.”
“New York State must follow in the footsteps of New York City and the House of Representatives, and pass campaign finance reform with a small-dollar public match this year,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “By doing so, we will amplify the voices of New Yorkers in the political process, and incentivize candidates to engage with immigrant and other marginalized communities. Through their campaign contributions, public matching gives diverse communities a more powerful voice in the democratic process and a greater say in who is representing them in government.”
“Progressive champions in Congress are taking a momentous step by passing campaign finance reform with a small donor match — it’s time for New York to follow their lead,” said Bill Lipton, New York State director of the Working Families Party. “For too long, New York’s weak campaign finance system has allowed wealthy donors and corporate interests to dictate the political process and drown out the voices of working New Yorkers. We stand with the organizers and community residents fighting to pass small donor matching and limit the corrupting influence of big money in our state politics.”
“NYPIRG today applauded passage of H.R. 1 by the House of Representatives. Yet one House approval doesn’t mean a new law. New York State should show the nation how to pass comprehensive campaign finance changes into law,” said Blair Horner, NYPIRG Executive Director. “The Governor’s plan would dramatically shift the state’s campaign financing system away from the wealthy few, and to the many. New York doesn’t have to look far for a national model praised by experts nationwide; New York City’s voluntary campaign finance matching program has been a success for decades.”
“House Democrats in Washington are unified behind cleaning up Washington but Republicans stand in the way. In Albany, no such obstacle exists. Governor Cuomo and State Democrats have talked the talk for years, but will they walk the walk and finally restore integrity to Albany?,” said Alex Camarda, Senior Policy Advisor at Reinvent Albany. “Do they believe in good government or is it just a convenient campaign talking point? All eyes are on Albany.”
“We applaud today’s historic passage of HR1 in the House. It is a bold vision for strengthening our democracy by both expanding the access to vote and valuing the impact of everyday Americans in their government,” said Empire State Indivisible. “It is of particular significance that, for the first time, the Democratic party is supportive of a public financing system that would increase the weight of small dollar donations, thus lowering the barriers for those who choose to run for office. Unfortunately, with a Republican controlled Senate, these reforms will stall. Our Democratic led state Legislature must then act to enact a small-donor matched public financing system here in New York State. For years, leaders in both houses have publicly supported a small-donor match program and blamed the IDC and Republican controlled Senate for its failure to advance. In 2018, New Yorkers from across the state worked around the clock to elect a strong Democratic Majority. We will be watching closely to see if our new leaders uphold their commitment.”
“Today, the House of Representatives showed its commitment to democracy by passing the historic HR 1. Now the New York legislature has to do the same by passing Fair Elections,” said Joan Mandle, Executive Director of Democracy Matters.” Only by passing Fair Elections can New York keep its promise to be a leader in the fight to preserve and strengthen our democracy in this difficult time.”
“On behalf of Stand Up America’s community of over 2 million progressives nationwide, including over 100,000 New Yorkers, we strongly urge New York’s political leaders to follow the House’s lead and enact bold campaign finance reform this year, including a small-dollar matching system,” said Stand Up America. “New York has a chance to go from one of the worst to best in the fight against big money. New York could become the first state since Citizens United to pass bold comprehensive campaign finance reform that includes a small-dollar matching system. If campaign finance reform is not included in the final budget currently being negotiated in Albany, it will be because New York’s leaders decided to accept the big-money status quo. It is time to bring power back to the people of New York and unrig our broken political system.”
“While New York is a national leader on many progressive issues, our position as forty-sixth in the national rankings regarding ease of access to voting speaks for itself,” said Stephen Carpineta, Communications Director of the New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN). “We need widespread campaign finance reform, including small-donor matching, which was provisioned for in the Governor’s budget this year. It’s time we follow the House’s example, hold our legislators accountable, and enact Fair Elections in New York.”
“Today, we look to DC to commend the US House of Representatives for the passage of HR1,” said Morningside Heights Resistance. “We turn to our State Senators and Assemblymembers in Albany to make history by passing comprehensive campaign finance reform in this year’s state budget. This must include small donor public financing! Now is the time to make our government work. Morningside Heights Resistance is a group of neighbors on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We formed after the 2016 election to pool our knowledge and coordinate our grassroots efforts. Each of us was spurred to action by different issues–climate change, immigration, healthcare, funding for public education, housing laws–but early on we realized that without fundamental reforms to the core of our democracy, namely elections and voting, none of our efforts stand a chance… We urge the State Legislature to step up.”
“While the Senate is expected to stall progress on HR1, cities and states can lead the way. In a matter of weeks, leaders in Albany can keep a similar proposal in the state budget. Then everyone can look to New York as a model for the nation. This is the true test for the new leadership in Albany,” said the Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance. “The Governor’s budget proposal includes small donor matching. If it’s not in the final budget, it will be because those in power decided to take it out and accept the big-money status quo. Please include money in the 2019 New York State budget to allow for public campaign financing including small donor matching.”
“While we are excited at the prospect of the federal election reform bill HR 1 passing the House of Representatives, our club’s membership is eager to see more aggressive action taken at the state level,” said The Four Freedoms Democratic Club. “All three of the state legislators representing the Yorkville and Roosevelt Island communities – Sen. Liz Krueger, Sen. José Serrano, and Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright – signed on to the call for Fair Elections and a small donor matching fund program, and we hope that they will pressure their colleagues to follow suit. We would be very disappointed if, after such a monumental grassroots victory in the last election, our legislative leaders abandoned their commitment to progressive, democratic values and failed to pass this legislation.”
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.
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