Governor Cuomo Calls for Campaign Finance Reform

In his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo outlined a series of steps that will bring fairness and greater disclosure to the New York’s campaign finance laws. This excerpt from Governor Cuomo’s Building on Success: 2014 State of the State handbook highlights the proposed reforms:

“In 2013, in the wake of several proven and alleged incidents of corruption and misconduct by public officials and the Legislature’s failure to enact comprehensive reforms, the Governor created a Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in government and propose reforms to address weaknesses in the law. The Moreland Commission, consisting of prosecutors, academics, and legal experts deputized by the Attorney General to assist in the Commission’s investigations, has undertaken a number of investigations to determine the role that money plays in the political system and identify any weaknesses in the structure of the State Board of Elections. The Commission has also examined weaknesses in existing laws, regulations and procedures relating to public corruption, conflicts of interest, and ethics in State Government.

The Moreland Commission recently released its interim report detailing the results of its investigation. Governor Cuomo will continue to fight for reforms to ensure that New Yorkers have confidence that their elected officials are serving them faithfully.

Adopt Campaign Finance Reform and Public Finance

Governor Cuomo believes that New York needs a public financing system for political campaigns. Such a system would allow the voices of those who can only afford to make small contributions to be amplified by a small donor matching system. Giving a voice to small donors would also help enable a diverse pool of candidates with substantial grassroots support, but little access to large donors, to run competitive campaigns.

In addition, the proliferation of entities that make independent expenditures during political campaigns requires an effective disclosure regime so that New Yorkers are aware of the forces attempting to influence the electoral process. Creating such a regime requires three actions: (1) broadening the definition of electioneering activity that triggers the duty to disclose; (2) mandating the disclosure of the names and addresses of significant donors to organizations that engage in independent spending; and (3) providing effective public access to campaign finance reports.

Finally, New York State’s contribution limits for candidates must be lowered generally, with even lower limits for those candidates who receive the benefits of public matching financing. Large contributions to and transfers from political party committee accounts are currently unlimited and should be limited. The current annual limit on aggregate contributions from a contributor to a party or constituted committee should be reduced. In addition, the loopholes in current law that allow LLCs to be treated as individuals (with their sky-high contribution limits) must be closed. Similarly, political party housekeeping and other accounts should be limited to avoid end runs around the individual limits on contributions to specific candidates.

Ensure Real Election Enforcement

As the Moreland Commission’s investigation has shown, the Board of Elections has failed to enforce the Election Law. The State needs an independent entity free of partisan influence to vigorously enforce our election laws.

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