May 27, 2014
A memo from the Conservative Party of New York state sent to all 213 legislators last week reaffirms the party’s opposition to taxpayer funded elections — one of the most controversial issues still being debated as this year’s legislative session nears the end.
Citing a 2011 report from the Center for Competitive Politics, the memo insists “the abuse of public funds is so severe and the record of corrupt practices and other misdeeds are so rampant, particularly in the city of New York, that such a system cannot possibly live up to the ‘clean’ moniker that has been assigned by its proponents.”
According to the party, public funds granted to candidates in the 10 years spanning the report who were subsequently investigated for misuse of taxpayer money totaled $13,924,189. The report reviewed candidates in public funding systems in New York City, Maine and Arizona.
“Public funding of campaigns only serves candidates and does nothing to help the citizens whose money is procured by taxes,” the memo reads. “It does not level the playing field, and certainly does not provide a benefit to New York’s citizens forced to support candidates they would not vote into office.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his conference, Sen. Jeff Klein and the Independent Democratic Conference, and the Senate Democratic Conference have all stated support for a full public campaign finance system supported by taxpayer money.
Although Cuomo included a statewide system in his Executive Budget, the final budget agreement only yielded a half-loaf, one-office system for the state Comptroller’s Office. Progressive groups, particularly the state’s Working Families Party, have chided the governor for failing to deliver a more robust system.
Senate Republicans have remained staunchly opposed to funding elections with taxpayer money and have repeatedly blocked efforts to enact such a system.
Proponents of publicly funded campaigns have promised to hold the governor’s feet to the flames, with speculation swirling the Working Families Party may even pass over Cuomo for the gubernatorial election this fall.