Money in Politics in New York: February 8 Edition

February 8, 2013

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.

Publicly Financed Elections are Good Business
In an op-ed published Sunday in the Albany Times-Union, co-founder and CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council, David Levine, explains why business owners are so enthusiastic about campaign finance reform. A poll commissioned by the ASBC indicates that business leaders are dissatisfied with the current role that money plays in American politics. Other surveys, such as this one by the Committee on Economic Development demonstrate support for reform is also strong in the business community; 72 percent are in favor of creating a public financing system that would match low-dollar contributions and give average citizens more incentives to contribute to campaigns. Secretive donations to political campaigns and organizations perpetuate perceptions of corruption, eroding the public’s trust in government institutions as is necessary for a functioning market and a participatory democracy. “Underneath the headlines, many business owners still believe that success should come from hard work, safe and quality products, and good customer service—not spending on elections.”

Lobbying Disclosure Reports Available on JCOPE Website
The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics has recently implemented the nation’s first system of disclosure of funding sourcesfor specified entities spending in excess of $50,000 per year on lobbying expenditures. The disclosure is a requirement of the Public Integrity Act of 2011, which seeks to end the practice of black box lobbying, whereby expensive lobbying gifts are provided to legislators by unrecognizable and hidden groups. The public will now be better served with information about who is funding the state’s large lobbying campaigns.

In Passing Campaign Finance Reform, Senator Klein Holds the Key
Senator Jeffrey Klein has been in the news quite often lately over the Independent Democratic Conference’s decision to create a ruling coalition with the Republicans in the New York State Senate. It turns out Klein’s coalition could be instrumental in determining the fate of campaign finance reform in the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo has already committed himself to reform; he proposed that the state adopt a system similar to that of New York City, where small donations are matched with public funds. Although Senator Klein has stated he supports campaign finance reform, he has not yet weighed in on any specific proposals.