Monthly Archives: August 2015

By LLC Lawsuit’s Logic, Governor Could Be Docked Nearly $5 million

POLITICO New York’ Bill Mahoney reports that Governor Cuomo who has” raised the most money from limited liability companies isn’t concerned about the ramifications of a lawsuit that seeks to fine a candidate for accepting large sums from such donors.

“The campaign follows all finance laws and will continue to do so,” a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “The Governor has been a vocal leader in reforming campaign finance laws, including closing the LLC loophole, and he will continue to fight to do just that.”

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Tom DiNapoli: New York Should Opt Into Public Financing of Elections

In Wednesday’s Albany Times Union, Comptroller DiNapoli  called for campaign finance reform, including implementing a public funding program for all state elections. The Comptroller reproduced the article in an email he sent to his lists. It is reproduced here below.

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New York Should Opt Into Public Financing of Elections
By Thomas P. DiNapoli | August 26, 2015

In 2014, I faced one of the hardest decisions of my career: Should I opt into a public financing program for the comptroller’s race or not? For years, I had called for public financing of political campaigns. I’d even pushed my own legislation to start with the state comptroller’s office.

But now I was faced with a deeply flawed pilot program that had been rushed into law for an election a mere seven months later. The legislation was sloppy, inadequate and unsound in so many ways that good government groups that had spent decades fighting for this change were outraged and encouraged me to reject it.

In the end, I agreed with the advocates and chose not to participate in the pilot. There were too many signs that the program was doomed from the start. Perhaps it was designed to fail.

A new report from the state Board of Elections validates these concerns, noting the “extremely short” time frame to implement the plan and the hurdles that made it impractical or impossible for candidates to participate.

But the failure of one poorly designed plan should not dissuade New York from considering and adopting real public campaign finance reform.

I commend the state Board of Elections for making thoughtful suggestions on how to make a new public finance system viable: officials must have at least two years to implement a program and those seeking public financing need the proper time to opt-in and meet participation thresholds.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states across the country offer some kind of public financing to political candidates, and those systems have been proven to work. New York City has operated under a voluntary publicly funded system for more than 20 years. While not perfect, it is successful in promoting competition and reducing the influence of private donations.

In this era of extreme voter cynicism brought on by a seemingly endless series of corruption scandals, it’s time for the state to get on board. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform in New York now, including public funding of elections for all state offices: governor, comptroller, attorney general, Senate and Assembly.

Campaigns are big business in New York, and vast sums are required to mount an effective race, especially for statewide office. Anyone who is not wealthy but wants to run for office is often denied the opportunity because he or she simply can’t self-fund a campaign.

We need to consider the cost to our state of this system that keeps too many ordinary, qualified people out of public office; away from creating the laws we all must follow.

Current contribution limits for statewide offices are $19,700 for a primary and $41,100 for a general election. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income in New York state in 2013 was $58,000. How can New Yorkers believe in a system that lets statewide candidates accept contributions larger than the average family’s income?

Many believe the influence of big money in politics sometimes causes elected officials to forget the best interests of their constituents. This is eroding voter confidence in the process.

The best place to start cleaning up government is at the beginning: election to office.

Public financing allows regular citizens who do not have access to established political fundraising circles the ability to raise money and compete in elections. Matching funds for smaller contributions also forces candidates to focus on grassroots donors.

A new financing system in New York is a relatively low-cost tool that allows candidates and elected officials to make decisions without undue influence from large campaign contributors, taking the perception of pay-to-play off the table.

The non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute suggested the cost for public financing would be $26 million to $41 million annually — a few dollars per New Yorker for a sound investment in a more open, transparent state government.

The bottom line is that we must change the old ways of raising money in Albany. It’s time for New York state to build a new foundation of public trust by enacting campaign finance reform in time for the next state election.

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New York Now Has Two Women’s Equality Parties

Former State Senator Cecelia Tkaczyk filed a set of rules for the Women’s Equality Party.

There are now two different sets of rules for this party – each with different leadership.

It’s fair to assume this development will be headed to a courtroom sometime soon.

You can read the papers filed today here:  Women’s Equality Party II Rules

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State Constitutional Convention: Holy Grail Or Pandora’s Box?

It’s time again (and time well overdue) to consider amending New York State’s Constitution. Voters are asked whether to call a constitutional convention every 20 years, something voter will next be asked in 2017. Unlike in previous rounds, little  discussion or preparation has been undertaken so far.

David Howard King has penned  a timely article in today’s Gotham Gazette, balancing pros and cons and comments by Professor Gerald Benjamin, NYPIRG’s Blair Horner, Demos expert Richard Brodsky and others.

This author is weighing in on constitutional reform with a chapter on the need for real redistricting reform in a forthcoming book edited by Professors Benjamin and Peter Galie.

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Looks Like A Lose-Lose For Nassau’s Major Parties

Dan Janison presents an interesting scenario in Newsday where Nassau Republicans (for having power) and Democrats (for having less power) both might come out as losers in this year’s elections. Republicans face problems with contracting powers  and indictments. Democrats stand to lose the District Attorney race and possibly  fewer legislators in the county legislature, denying them the ability to block certain fiscal votes in the legislature.

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Democrats Blast Larkin for Late Filing

City & State’s Ashley Hupfl reports that “after Republican state Sen. William Larkin Jr. got some bad press this past week for his failure to report his campaign contributions and expenditures by the July 15 deadline, Democratic insiders are trying to capitalize on it to build momentum to knock out the incumbent in 2016.

Orange County Democrats recently sent a letter to Risa Sugarman, the state Board of Election’s chief enforcement counsel, asking her to investigate Larkin for possible election law violations.”

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Judge Deals Setback To State Senate Hopeful Jones

John Roby reports in Press Connects that ” a state Supreme Court justice has denied a Tioga County businessman’s request for more time to petition onto the ballot for the 52nd state Senate District election in November…

Jones’ request centered on the compressed timeframe of the vacancy election. He had sought to collect the 3,000 valid petition signatures required for his name to appear on the Taxpayer Party line in the Nov. 3 general election, which were due to the state board of elections by Aug. 18. The petitioning period for the general election runs from July 7 to the due date, but the Senate vacancy did not open until Libous’ conviction July 22.”

The court  rejected Jones’ request, finding he had sufficient time and resources to meet the requirement.

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