New York Leadership for Accountable Government member Daniel Simon wrote a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo recently expressing his support for public financing reform as a solution to New York’s broken campaign finance system.
I am a member of NY-LEAD, New York Leadership for Accountable Government (I express only my own opinions here). I attended the luncheon in New York City a little over a year ago when you spoke to our group so convincingly about the need for public campaign financing and its importance to restoring trust in government. That expression of such strong, unqualified support makes the near-complete capitulation on this issue in this year’s budget all the more galling, immensely frustrating, and devastatingly disappointing.
You talked about the need for reform supporters to put pressure on public officials to move this issue forward. I believe that such organizations have more than held up their part of the bargain. They have done their best to convince our legislators through persuasion on policy and demonstration of constituent support, and raised the possibilities of primary and general election challenges. Poll after poll shows the public strongly supporting reform, with public campaign financing popular across the political spectrum. There is no inherent reason why this should be a partisan issue; a vote on this subject should be an easy one for any public-minded official, not a tough one.
And I find it inexplicable that the Moreland Commission, which was tasked with investigating corruption in the political process, has been terminated. If the suspected influence of money in politics justified the commission in the first place, it is hard to fathom a non-political reason to suspend its operations now, before its mission has been completed.
With the public squarely on the side of reform, there comes a time when our elected officials must stop talking and lead. In my opinion, the time for action has long passed. There is no good reason not to get comprehensive campaign finance reform done, and there are no excuses for further delays. It is increasingly difficult for people like me who care deeply about our democracy to support those whose actions fail to demonstrate a serious commitment to reform, regardless of what they say on the matter.
Now is the time to back up words with action. Beyond the need to restore confidence in our state government, the nation desperately needs a model for a campaign finance system that reduces the dependence of our elected officials on big money which currently permeates and warps our government. The public is with us on this, but it requires leaders in Albany who will move beyond talk and take the necessary measures to get the job done.
I still hope you will do so.
Daniel A. Simon