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IDC Letter 061013

IDC Letter 061013

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Fair Elex advocates put pressure on the Senate IDC
Fair Elex advocates put pressure on the Senate IDC

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Published by: Michael Gareth Johnson on Jun 10, 2013
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09/16/2013

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The People Deserve a Vote:
An Open Letter to the NYS Senate’s
 Independent Democratic ConferenceRegarding Fair Elections
 June 10, 2013State Senate Co-President Jeff KleinState Senator David CarlucciState Senator Diane SavinoState Senator David ValeskyLegislative Office BuildingAlbany, NY 12247To the Members of the Independent Democratic Conference:This has been a strange and difficult year in New York State government. It is in your handswhether it is remembered as one of reform and renewal in the face of scandal, or just another year of business as usual in Albany.Last year, when your conference broke away from other Senate Democrats and shifted control of 
the chamber, you promised to end “the type of political gamesmanship that has, in the past,
 
overrun a healthy and functioning democracy.” Your leader, Senator Klein, said the move wouldallow major reforms to get passed, including “serious campaign finance reform.” He added thathe was “extremely confident” that such reforms would “come to the Senate floor for a vote.”
 As a bipartisan group of business and civic leaders who support comprehensive reform,including a small donor matching program, we were heartened by these promises. Governor Cuomo reserved judgment, writing that his opinion of your 
governing coalition “will be based on
how those senators function as a leadership group and perform on the important issues for the
 people of the state.” He proposed a litmus test with campaign finance reform near the top. The
time for this test has come.
The Governor said that your coalition will either “wind up being a facilitator of transparency and progressive politics or an enabler of more obfuscation.” With only two weeks left in the
legislative session, we are concerned it may be the latter. At the very moment that passage of realcampaign finance reform appears within reach
 — 
the Governor and a majority of legislators publicly support it
 — 
one of your members has said your conference would not force a bill to thefloor without the support of the Senate Republicans, even though they make up a minority of thechamber. As you know, the Republican leadership in the Senate has been vocally opposed.We understand that you introduced a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill
.
This was animportant first step. However, introducing a bill without working to get it passed is worth little tothe people of New York. It is wrong to give any conference or legislative leader the power to protect the status quo and prevent voting on an essential reform. This is particularly so during a
 
 period of record corruption, when reform has the support of a majority of officeholders and the public. No fewer than 17 public opinion polls over the last two years show that New Yorkers across thestate want the system to change. The people want a campaign finance system that works for all New Yorkers
 — 
not just special interest donors.
Governor Cuomo recently said, “The people of this state have the right to know what the position of the legislators really are.” He is right, and on
ly a vote will do that. This is a criticalmoment. If you bring campaign finance reform legislation to a vote, New Yorkers will celebrateyour leadership. If instead you allow reform to fail while you share control of the Senate, your coalition will be remembered for obstructing good legislation and enabling partisan gridlock above all else.Sincerely,Richard Aborn
CAAS, LLC 
 Gerald Benjamin
 Distinguished Professor of Political Science at SUNY New Paltz 
 Fmr. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert
24th Congressional District, NY 
 Andrea Bonime-Blanc
CEO, GEC Risk Advisory LLC 
 Fmr. Senator Bill Bradley
Co-Chair of Americans for Campaign Reform
 Michael Brune
 Executive Director, Sierra Club
 David L. Calone
 President & CEO, Jove Equity Partners, LLC 
 Andrew G. Celli, Jr.
 Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP 
 Ellen Chesler Diana Cihak 
 Founder of WomenElect 
 
 
Sean Coffey
 Fmr. Candidate for NYS Attorney General 
 Richard DavisCynthia DiBartolo
CEO of Tigress Financial PartnersChairperson of the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
William Donaldson
27th Chairman of the SEC 
 Patricia Duff 
 Founder of The Common Good 
 Hazel N. Dukes
 President, NAACP New York State
 Sean Eldridge
 President, Hudson River Ventures
 Fmr. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.Anne GumowitzSteven HaftChristie Hefner 
 Fellow, Center for American Progress
Stephen Heintz
 President, Rockefeller Brothers Fund 
 Leo Hindery
 InterMedia Partners, LP 
 Fmr. Rep. Amory Houghton
29th Congressional District, NY 
 Chris Hughes
Co-Founder, Facebook 
 Craig KaplanRobert M. Kaufman
 Proskauer Rose
 

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