New York Flirts with Public Campaign Financing

New York flirts with public campaign financing

The Daily Gazette

By David Lombardo

February 22, 2012

As the call for public financing of statewide elections in New York grows, both chambers of the state Legislature have now introduced legislation to provide for public financing for state comptroller elections.

In a nearly completely partisan vote last summer, Assembly Democrats and one Assembly Republican advanced a bill that would allow candidates for the state comptroller post to receive matching public financing if the candidate agreed to limits on spending and contributions, monitoring of campaign expenditures and participation in public debates.

The proposal, which was drafted by state Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli, then went exactly nowhere in the state Senate.

Now, a similar bill has been introduced in the state Senate by, surprisingly, the Republicans.

Not surprisingly, as the Republicans in the Senate do this when they don’t want to attach a single member to a bill, the proposal has been introduced by the Senate Rules Committee. That makes it a Republican bill because the Republicans are in the majority in the Senate.

In order to be eligible for the matching funds, a candidate must raise $150,000. Once the candidate accepts public financing they can’t accept contributions over $2,000 per individuals and can only spend $75 million on the general election.

The public financing, which would be paid for by a 10 percent surcharge on securities litigation, would match $6 for every $1 contributed to a candidate, up to the first $250 of every contribution the candidate receives.

In an Assembly committee meeting in 2011, Republican Assemblyman Montesano questioned why only the comptroller’s race is being considered. Committee counsel said this proposal is being advanced as a pilot program to possibly be expanded in the future.

If signed into law, this proposal would be in place for the 2014 race.

Information on the meeting came from New York  State Watch.

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