For Immediate Release: December 20, 2019
LEGISLATURE & GOVERNOR BLEW IT ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM IN 2019;
200+ ORGANIZATION CAMPAIGN DEMANDS ACTION IN 2020
FAILURE TO AMEND COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS BY DEC. 21 DEADLINE SHOWS LAWMAKERS CONTENT WITH A WEAK PROGRAM
Statement of Dave Palmer, Campaign Director of Fair Elections for New York campaign:
“Ask any Democratic state legislator if she or he supports reducing the undue influence of big money in politics, and nearly everyone will respond, ‘yes.’ But today, in true Albany fashion, legislators’ collective inaction spoke a much louder, ‘no.’
“The Legislature had a choice to make in the face of a highly-criticized Public Campaign Finance Commission report that approved sky-high contribution limits, weak enforcement, a laughably slow timeline, and, it turns out, a program that can only exist if New York’s minor parties are wounded or destroyed. Instead of passing a necessary legislative fix within the statutory period provided, both houses have indefensibly, tacitly accepted the Commission’s inadequate recommendations. Governor Cuomo’s opposition to a fix is equally shameful.
“Evidence suggests the Public Campaign Financing Commission was what the cynics had alleged: a public face for a backroom deal struck between the Governor and legislative leaders. That would certainly explain the collective failure of the ‘three in a room’ to push the Commission to recommend the strongest possible reforms, as well as their opposition to amending the subpar result now. In other words, it seems they got exactly the result they wanted.
“Meanwhile, way too many legislators sat quietly on the sidelines. The charade is over. The push for meaningful campaign finance reform in New York is not. The onus for delivering meaningful reform in 2020 is back where it should be: on the Governor and Legislature.”
“Without the sustained and vocal activism of the over 200 organizations that made up this campaign, we would not have gotten this far. A special shout out to the people and organizations who took time away from their top priorities — including many Black and Brown leaders fighting urgent threats in their communities — to also prioritize building a stronger democracy.
“Some legislators only take a step when something seems possible; others help create possibilities. We desperately need more of the latter in New York. Thank you to those activist legislators who stood up publicly, at every turn, against the odds and the internal resistance, to help us move the Overton window. We got something. Now let’s fix it.
“And finally, thank you to the Albany press corps for putting sunlight on Albany. We’re confident that, on this issue in particular, we’d be nowhere without you.”
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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