New York Leadership for Accountable Government (NY LEAD) is a bipartisan group of New York business, civic, philanthropic and cultural leaders who have come together to advocate for comprehensive reform to the way elections are funded in the Empire State. We want to join our collective voices to restore fairness and integrity to New York’s political process.
New York State’s current campaign finance system fuels cronyism and wastes taxpayer dollars on special interest projects. NY LEAD supports a better alternative for New York: campaign finance reform that gives all voters a voice and a seat at the table.
The Business Case for Campaign Finance Reform
Competitive elections are vital to the health of our democracy. That’s why business leaders, regardless of political affiliation, want to encourage accountability among candidates and legislators – and reduce the pay-to-play mentality that allows money in politics to control legislative decision making.
These reforms are more needed than ever after the US Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The decision reversed 100 years of precedent that limited how corporations, unions, trade associations, political organizations, and other groups may spend money to influence elections – placing even more pressure on the business community to consider campaign contributions as a cost of doing business and competing in the marketplace.
Many business leaders are rejecting this approach as nothing more than a “shake-down.” They are recognizing the financial and reputational risks of this type of political activity to their enterprises.
Business leaders can work to improve our most time-honored democratic and economic values by supporting these essential reforms:
- Citizen-funded elections. A multiple matching program would empower small donors and encourage them to become more involved in the financing of political campaigns. This new way of electing our political leaders would expand the pool of possible candidates, particularly small business leaders. Once elected, office holders would not feel beholden to special interests and large donors. This approach is working well in New York City, where an overwhelming majority of voters in 2018 approved a measure to make public financing even stronger. Small donor match is also taking off across the country, passed most recently by ballot measure in Denver and Baltimore and by legislature in Prince George’s County, Maryland. New York State would be the first to enact small donor public financing statewide – an achievement that would win national notice, and one we are committed to winning.
- Reasonable contribution limits. New York State’s soft money loopholes and exorbitant contribution limits encourage politicians to seek huge funds from their contributors. Setting reasonable limits will allow individuals to show their political support without being shaken down for unlimited donations.
- End pay-to-play. Lower contribution limits for corporations and individuals who do business with the state of New York.
- Stronger enforcement and transparency. We need fair and even-handed enforcement – as well as non-partisan administration that helps candidates and donors with compliance.
NY LEAD Members*
*Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.
President, Citizens Crime Commission of New York City
Chair, Innovations for Poverty Action Board of Directors
Former Managing Director, D.E. Shaw & Co.
Former President, NRDC
Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement, SUNY New Paltz
Retired Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Ethics & Compliance Officer, Avon Products, Inc.
Senior Founding Partner, Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP
President and Co-Founder, Chelsea Piers, LP
Founder and CEO, GEC Risk Advisory LLC
Author, Board Member
Jacqueline E. Brevard
Senior Advisor, GEC Risk Advisory LLC
David L. Calone
President and CEO, Jove Equity Partners LLC
Daniel J. Castleman
Former Manhattan Chief Assistant District Attorney
Former Commissioner, Moreland Commission
Senior Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
Founder, WEPAC and the WomenElect Program
President, Upper Edge Consulting LLC
John P. “Sean” Coffey
Partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
Freelance Activist Educator
Member, Patriotic Millionaires
Consultant, Calibre One Inc.
Chairperson, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
Founder & CEO, Tigress Financial Partners LLC
Vice Chair, Robin Hood Foundation Board
Founder, The Common Good
Dr. Hazel N. Dukes
President, NAACP New York State Conference
Hon. John R. Dunne
Senior Counsel, Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP
Former New York State Senator
C. Virginia Fields
President & CEO, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.
James A. Gardner
Bridget and Thomas Black SUNY Distinguished Professor, University at Buffalo School of Law Former Dean, University at Buffalo School of Law
Founding Partner, Selendy & Gay PLLC
New York City Executive Director, Generation Citizen
President, Andrew Goodman Foundation
Chairman, GFP Real Estate LLC
Steven Haft, Esq.
Head of Global Partnerships, Consensys
CEO, Global Knowledge Initiative
Hon. Jane D. Hartley
Former U.S. Ambassador to France and Monaco
Former Chairman and CEO, Playboy Enterprises
Anne H. Hess
Community Resource Exchange Board of Directors
Managing Partner, InterMedia Partners
Hon. Elizabeth Holtzman
Counsel & Co-Chair, Government Relations Group, Herrick, Feinstein LLP
Former U.S. Representative, Kings County District Attorney, and New York City Comptroller
Co-Chair, Economic Security Project
Seymour W. James
Partner, Barket Eptstein Kearon Aldea & LoTurco LLP
James E. Johnson
Of Counsel, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Of Counsel, Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman P.C.
Chairman, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Daniel F. Kolb
Senior Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Eric J. Schmertz Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Public Service,
Hofstra University School of Law
Former Dean, Hofstra University School of Law
William S. Beinecke Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Kathryn Grant Madigan
Chair, Binghamton University Council
Partner, Levene Gouldin & Thompson LLP
Founder and Chairman, Cranmere LLC
President and CEO, Amalgamated Bank
Founder & CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
Hon. Scott Murphy
Managing Director, Advantage Capital
Former U.S. Representative (D-NY-20)
Makau W. Mutua
SUNY Distinguished Professor Floyd H. and Hilda Hurst Faculty Scholar
Former Dean, University at Buffalo Law School
Founder, Craigslist & Craig Newmark Philanthropies
Chair, Patriotic Millionaires
Senior Fellow, Millennial Policy Initiative Commission on Democracy and Voting Rights
Attorney, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Marjorie Press Lindblom
Of Counsel and Retired Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
K. Sabeel Rahman
Founder and CEO, Civic Hall
Steven A. Reiss
Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Principal, Global Reach
Lawrence King Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
Dean Emeritus, NYU School of Law
Director, Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU School of Law
President, Color Of Change
Jonathan F.P. Rose
President, Jonathan Rose Companies
Susan A. Rubinstein
Board Chair, Common Cause NY
Member, Common Cause National Governing Board
University Professor and Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University
Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr.
Chief Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice
Robert A. Scott
President Emeritus, Adelphi University
Member, Women Donors Network
Daniel A. Simon
Senior Advisor on Money in Politics, Voices for Progress
CEO, JS Capital Management LLC
Managing Director, D.E. Shaw & Co.
President, Natural Resources Defense Council
Author and Former Treasurer, Democratic National Committee
Jane M.G. Foster Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School
Hon. William vanden Heuvel
Chair Emeritus and Founder, Roosevelt Institute
Former US Ambassador to United Nations
Christine A. Varney
Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Managing Partner, Walden Macht & Haran LLP
Marc N. Weiss
Milton L. Williams, Jr.
Partner, Walden Macht & Haran LLP
Former Co-Chair, Moreland Commission
Partner, Arnold & Porter
Director, Center on Civil Justice at NYU School of Law