Money in Politics in NY: Dec. 9 Edition


Moreland Commission Endorses Public Financing of Elections

On Monday, the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption released a preliminary report on its findings and recommendations regarding the state’s election, campaign finance, corruption, and transparency laws. Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed the commission in July following corruption scandals involving several legislators in Albany and the failure of the legislature to pass comprehensive reform. The preliminary report includes strong recommendations for lowering sky-high campaign contribution limits, closing loopholes, restricting the personal use of campaign funds, disclosing independent expenditures, and creating an independent enforcement agency. The commission also singled out matching small private donations with public funds for election campaigns as an effective strategy to generate greater citizen participation. “Small donor matching also allows those without access to well-heeled interests and without the support of large independent expenditures to nevertheless compete in elections,” the report stated.

Editorials Praise Moreland Recommendations

The New York Times praised the Moreland Commission’s recent report on Wednesday. Criticizing the “engrained corruption” in Albany, the editorial urged Governor Cuomo to “push for a new system of campaign financing that provides public matching grants for small campaign donations.” The editorial pointed out that the cost of $41 million per year for public financing could easily be covered by one fewer tax break for a big developer.

The Buffalo News wrote, “the effort to establish a voluntary system of public financing of elections in New York is a critical component to change in Albany’s pay-to-play culture.”

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle demanded legislative action on public financing and the rest of the campaign finance reforms in the Moreland report.

The Albany Times Union called public financing as recommended by the commission “a bargain for cleaner elections and government.”