Money in Politics in NY: July 13th Edition


1. Campaign finance reform and public financing have gained renewed momentum in New York even as the legislature is out of session. According to the Albany Times Union and North Country Public Radio, among other reports, Governor Cuomo has pledged to redouble his commitment to making reform his next big achievement. He will begin touring the state to educate voters about public campaign financing in an effort to increase its public salience. The Governor is optimistic that the legislature will consider the issue; the Times Union suggests that it could be taken up after the November election, possibly as part of an arrangement during a special session to increase legislators’ salaries.

2. The unprecedented flow of money into campaigns this election season is striking, but the problem is being compounded by the lack of transparency throughout the process. Non-profits, including 501(c)(4) organizations deemed as “social welfare” groups, are funneling millions into political ads, despite legal strictures prohibiting them from aggressively engaging in politics. In an effort to promote transparency and integrity, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has vowed to investigate political spending by non-profits. A Newsday editorial praises Schneiderman for “issuing a subpoena for records from the National Chamber Foundation to determine whether it provided millions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business group, for political activities around 2004.”