Reinvent Albany Supports Doing-Business Restrictions Discussed by Public Financing Commission
Watchdog Group Responds to Commission’s Deliberations at Meeting in Buffalo
Reinvent Albany called on the Public Financing Commission to establish dramatically lower contribution limits for donors doing business with the state in a letter sent in response to the Commission’s public meeting in Buffalo last week. The Commission has twice discussed establishing lower limits for doing-business contributors as in New York City, but no determinations have been made. New York City’s system limits donations from senior executives at companies to no more than $400 when they have contracts or land use matters before the government, and from lobbyists advocating on legislation.
Reinvent Albany is concerned that the Commission will create a weak public financing system because contribution limits are too high and public money will match the first $250 of large contributions. This undercuts the very intent of the program, which is to amplify the voice of small donors. Imposing much lower doing-business restrictions would help mitigate this concern.
Reinvent Albany also weighed in on several other components of a public financing program discussed by the Commissioners at their 10/29 meeting in Buffalo.
Qualifying thresholds are thresholds for minimum funds raised and number of donors that candidates must reach before they can receive any public funds. Reinvent Albany believes they are generally too high and will lead to fewer candidates participating in the program.
Banning Corporate and Union Contributions
Reinvent Albany supports banning contributions by corporations, LLCs and unions. The state already limits corporate and LLC contributions to $5,000 annually, but there are no limits on the number of LLCs an entity can create, nor are there limits on union contributions from their treasuries.
Contribution Limits to Party Committees
Reinvent Albany supports lowering contribution limits to party committees but it is not clear that the Commission has the authority to do so. We support the Commission’s lawyers making public their assessment, and the legislature lowering the limits if the Commission lacks the power.
Protecting Public Funds
Reinvent Albany supports the Commission protecting public funds by adopting proposals that will limit public fund disbursements to candidates that have nominal opposition. We also support prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars from being spent on duties of elected officials or campaign expenditures like cars and residences that have a dual purpose. Public fund payments to candidates in minor party primaries should also be limited to $5,000 per candidate, as is done in New York City.