Money in Politics in New York, February 1 Edition


Eldridge: Why Businesses Should Support Campaign Finance Reform
In a Times-Union op-ed, Sean Eldridge, president of Hudson River Ventures, calls on politicians to get serious about reform. Eldridge notes that New York’s antiquated campaign finance system is built for big donors, not average voters. Wealthy contributors can donate $60,800 to some state candidates—ten times more than what they can give to presidential candidates. Numerous loopholes such as political party “housekeeping” accounts and separate limits for affiliated corporations can eviscerate even New York’s extremely high limits. It is no surprise then that “elected officials are encouraged to spend their time with the wealthy and the well-connected, and cater to the special interests of very few, instead of the constituents who put them in office.” Furthermore, these excessive contributions skew the market in favor of select businesses with political ties. Tax loopholes, pay-to-play antics, and special interest projects tremendously benefit a few key groups but waste our taxpayer dollars. In order to generate long-term economic growth, New York needs to eliminate special treatment for the well-connected and foster an open marketplace free from corruption.

Tkaczyk Wins State Senate Race against Incumbent Assemblyman Amedore
The last undecided New York State Senate race has finally been resolved. Last Friday, George Amedore conceded to his opponent, Cecilia Tkaczyk. Tkaczyk won by a mere 19 votes, making this race the second-closest in Senate history. The contest was prolonged by legal battles over 887 ballots out of nearly 126,000 that were cast. As The Nation notes “Tkaczyk faced daunting odds. A poll one month out showed her down by twelve points. She was running with a cash disadvantage, in a GOP-gerrymandered district, with little name recognition and a hard-to-pronounce name. With little left to lose, Tkaczyk and the key groups supporting her made the race a referendum on democracy itself. In the mail and at the doors, they let the voters know that a vote for Tkaczyk was a vote for publicly financed elections.” While the furious recount was underway, Tkacyzk publicly affirmed in aTimes-Union op-ed that campaign finance reform was her campaign’s core issue. “If I do get sworn in, I’ll know my support for public financing is a central reason I won the job.” Now that the job is hers, the prospects for Fair Elections legislation have picked up some steam.

68 Percent of New Yorkers Rate Campaign Finance Reform as a High Priority
Two weeks ago, the Sienna Research Institute found that59 percent of New Yorkers support a public financing and 79 percent support improved public disclosure of political contributions. This week, aQuinnipiac Poll reaffirmed these findings. When voters were asked if Governor Cuomo and the legislature should give campaign finance reform the highest priority, a high priority but not the highest, or a lower priority; 31 percent rated it as the highest priority and 37 percent as a high priority. Support for reform appears consistently strong across partisan lines. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats, and 73 percent of Independents ranked campaign finance reform as a high or the highest priority.