Money in Politics, March 1 Edition

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.

Qualcomm Discloses Political Spending
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, manager and trustee of the state retirement fund, has dropped a lawsuit against wireless tech giant Qualcomm following the company’s decision to disclose its political expenditures. Under a new policy released by Qualcomm, it will post its contributions to political candidates, parties, trade organizations and 501(c)(4) organizations for each fiscal year online.“Qualcomm’s disclosure policy sets a high standard for transparency in corporate political spending disclosure and the company deserves praise for its actions,” DiNapoli stated. The Albany Times-Unioneditorialized in favor of DiNapoli, praising his initiative. “We encourage Mr. DiNapoli to continue to use the $152.9 billion state pension fund’s ample clout to make more companies come clean. And let’s hope that other public pension trustees and other public officials are following this instructive tale.” Qualcomm’s voluntary disclosures will benefit its shareholders, but investors need the protection of a uniform, nationwide rule requiring disclosure of corporate political expenditures.

NY State Senator Brad Holyman: End Albany’s Pay-to-Play Culture
New York State Senator Brad Hoylman has an excellent op-ed in The Villager this week. Hoylman states that despite incremental improvements in ethics reforms following landmark legislation last year, Albany’s pay-to-play culture will not end until campaign finance laws are changed as well. New York’s contribution limits are 12 times higher than the national median for states and 10 times greater than the limit for presidential candidates. Corporate contributions, banned in almost half of all states, are the norm in New York. Political party housekeeping accounts, which can accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations, serve as a loophole that creates the possibility of giving in excess of New York’s sky-high limits. “Fortunately, we have a widely celebrated model of a fair and functional campaign finance law right here in New York City.” Candidates for any elective office in New York City can qualify for public funding if they raise enough money from small donors. Contribution limits are low and only living, breathing individuals can donate to a candidate. Two of the State Senate’s three conference leaders have pledged their support for campaign finance reform. Let’s push to make sure “Albany has the best politicians money can’t buy.”