Money in Politics in New York: June 8th Edition

1. Although the clock on this legislative session is winding down, reform advocates remain confident that New York’s legislators will enact new campaign finance rules in the near future. “The question about campaign finance reform and public funding of elections is whether it will be adopted soon or sooner,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause. While government officials are hesitant to say that anything will pass before the end of the current session, multiple reform bills have been introduced.  Grassroots activists continue to pressure reluctant legislators to support reform, and civic leaders such as former New York City Mayor Ed Koch are pushing for change.
2. The campaign finance reform movement heard from some important labor allies this week. Numerous unions voiced their support for bringing reform to New York and urged Albany to enact the proposed public financing bill, which will match small donations at a six-to-one ratio. “It is imperative that we address this issue during the 2012 legislative session,” wrote New York State United Teachers in its memorandum of support.
3. New York has a lot of room for improvement when it comes to enhancing its disclosure rules. A new report by the Corporate Reform Coalition gives the Empire State a score of 10 out of 100. This makes New York second to last among the fifty states, just ahead of North Dakota. The Coalition recommends both stronger enforcement of current state disclosure rules and adoption of important reforms, including mandating the disclosure of “electioneering communications” (spending that is intended to influence an election but that steers clear of so-called “magic words” such as “vote for” or “vote against”) and requiring political advertising to include information about the ad’s sponsor.
4. The New York Times reports that the Committee to Save New York, an advocacy group that has supported a number of Governor Cuomo’s policies, received significant donations from groups seeking to bring casinos to New York. The article questions the timing of the donations and Governor Cuomo’s public support for growing the gambling industry, while the Cuomo camp denies that the contributions in any way affected his policies. An editorial in The New York Times urges Governor Cuomo to ask his supporters to voluntarily disclose their contributions to the Committee, even though the state ethics board has yet to issue rules that would mandate such disclosure.