Ind Dems Propose Massive Campaign Finance Overhaul

April 12, 2013

Amidst the swirling winds of a bitter Spring day, and rumors of more indictments of state elected officials, the State Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) has proposed an ambitious overhaul of New York’s campaign finance laws.  IDC’s detailed proposal is rooted in New York City’s campaign finance system, and includes many proposals championed by good government groups. The centerpiece of IDC’s package is a six to one public match for the first $250 of any political contributions, and a $2,600 limit on campaign contributions. The proposal also includes a new Campaign Finance Board, caps on campaign spending, stiffer penalties, and increased disclosure requirements.

The IDC is a group of four state senate Democrats led by Bronx Senator Jeff Klein, which split from the rest of the Democratic caucus. Klein is senate “co-leader,” and his caucus currently holds the balance of power in the state senate. (Disgraced Queens senator Malcolm Smith was a member of the IDC until his arrest on bribery charges last week.) The IDC proposal is important because Klein is an ally of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the IDC proposal, which has been strongly endorsed by good government groups like Citizens Union, League of Woman Voters and NYPIRG,  is a trial balloon for reforms the governor is expected to introduce sometime in the next three or four weeks.

Independent Democratic Conference Campaign Finance Proposal
April 12, 2013

  1. Create the Campaign Finance Board within the State Board of Elections.
  2. Six to one public match for the first $250 received from an individual.Public campaign contribution match funded by 10% surcharge on state litigation, tax check-off.
  3. Limits on campaign expenditures for all candidates. (Still very big numbers.)
  4. Limits on individual campaign contributions, $2,600/candidate each election cycle.
  5. $10,000 limit on contributions to state and county parties.
  6. Transfers between parties and candidates capped at $2600.
  7. Ban on corporate contributions to candidates and political parties.
  8. Elimination of party house keeping accounts. (Unlimited slush funds.)
  9. Create statewide “doing business” database of state vendors.
  10. $260 donation limit per candidate, and no match, for anyone doing business with state.
  11. Increased penalties for violations of $5,000 for failure to make required filings, $10,000 for “knowingly” violating other campaign finance rules.
  12. Increase power to Attorney General to prosecute campaign finance fraud.
  13. End to “Wilson Pakula” rule allowing party leaders to allow candidates from other party’s on their party ballot line. (IE. Democrat on Republican line.)