For Immediate Release
October 7, 2019
Good Government Groups to Public Financing Commission: Release Interim Bill Draft
Groups Call For An Opportunity to Review Recommendations Before They Become Law
Albany, NY – Six good government groups today released a public letter to the public financing commission, urging it to release an interim version of the bill draft they are considering by the first week of November. Such a release would ensure that experts could advise the Commission to make a workable final policy without a rush leading up to the December 1 deadline.
The letter noted that all experts who have testified so far, along with the bills that have been introduced in the Legislature and by the Governor, include the following points:
- a permanent program (not a pilot)
- covering primary and general elections
- including at least a 6-to-1 match on small donations for in-state contributions
- significantly reducing contribution limits for participating and non-participating candidates
- placing the program and existing campaign finance law under the jurisdiction of an independent enforcement unit
- establishing qualifying thresholds low enough to ensure candidates with community support can participate
The letter was signed by Laura Ladd Bierman, League of Women Voters of New York State; Betsy Gotbaum, Citizens Union; Blair Horner, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG); John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany; Susan Lerner, Common Cause New York; and Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice.
Full Text of the Letter:
October 7, 2019
Dear Members of the Public Campaign Financing Commission,
As experts on campaign finance policy, we write to request that the Commission issue interim recommendations — in the form of a bill draft — publicly by the first full week of November.
You have a challenging task crafting a public financing system, made even more challenging by your lack of staff support and getting it completed in the 37 working days left. You all have demanding day jobs and virtually no resources to get this complex task completed. Thankfully, New York City offers a successful time-tested model upon which you can scale up a statewide program. Of course, the city system would need to be adjusted for statewide use. As you know, every public financing concept presented to you, as well as previous bills introduced by the Governor and Legislature, agree on these basic points:
- create a permanent program (not a pilot)
- cover primary and general elections
- include at least a 6-to-1 match on small donations for in-state contributions
- significantly reduce contribution limits for participating and non-participating candidates
- place the program and existing campaign finance law under the jurisdiction of an independent enforcement unit
- establish qualifying thresholds low enough to ensure candidates with community support can participate
We appreciated the Commission providing the opportunity for us to share our expertise relatively early in this process. An interim recommendation would allow for comment and analysis on something more specific, helping to ensure a workable final policy. It would help avoid a rush at the end to meet the December 1 deadline — and would increase public trust in this process and final result.
Thank you for considering our request. We hope you can let us know by the next working session of the Commission, if not sooner, whether an interim recommendation will be released. We remain fully committed to supporting this Commission’s efforts to create a public financing system that is a national model. Please let us know how we can help.
Laura Ladd Bierman, League of Women Voters of New York State
Betsy Gotbaum, Citizens Union
Blair Horner, New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany
Susan Lerner, Common Cause New York
Lawrence Norden, Brennan Center for Justice