Money in Politics in New York: June 15th Edition

June 15, 2012

Reposted with permission from The Brennan Center. Money in Politics is a series which regularly compiles the latest news concerning the corrosive nature of money in New York State politics — and the ongoing need for public financing and robust campaign finance reform.

1. As the legislative session winds down, the chorus advocating for campaign finance reform in New York State keeps growing louder.  An editorial in the Huffington Post draws on examples from other states to argue that public matching funds will increase constituent involvement and help dull the effect of a few wealthy donors and special interests.  The editorial also recommends adopting a rule that would provide free and equal advertising for candidates, noting that the idea has gained support from both liberal and conservative groups.

2. Environmental groups in the midst of an ongoing fight against fracking have fully recognized that campaign finance reform for New York would provide a boost to their movement.  Gas companies and their trade associations donated over $1.3 million to New York state officials and campaign committees between 2007 and 2011, and an editorial in Newsday argues that it’s no coincidence that the state budget failed to include funds for a study of the dangers of fracking.  “[T]he greatest threat to our environment here in New York may be an unlikely suspect: big money.”  A coalition of environmental groups have penned a letter to Governor Cuomo expressing support for the pending Fair Elections Act.

3. Lobbyists contributed over $1.8 million in campaign contributions and bundled contributions to New York legislators in 2011, reports the Times Union.  The pernicious effect of these contributions is exacerbated by New York’s lack of disclosure rules.  While the New York Public Interest Research Group managed to piece together scattered pieces of information to report the issue, the public should not have to wait until an annual survey is released to learn the sources of political contributions.  Rather, continuous disclosure should be the norm.