Faith Leaders of New York State
Honorable Andrew M. CuomoGovernor of the State of New York New York State Capitol BuildingAlbany, New York 12224Members of the New York State Senate and New York State AssemblyLegislative Office BuildingAlbany, New York 12247Dear Governor Cuomo and Members of the New York State Legislature:As faith leaders, we are called to build a society that promotes dignity for all people. That effort isundermined, however, when the rules governing the electoral process amplify the voice of a smallsegment of the population while diminishing that of the rest.Our ancient traditions recognized the power of gifts to corrupt public officials and tip the scales of justice towards the wealthy and powerful. For example, the Torah prohibits judges from accepting
gifts, for “gifts blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just” (Deuteronomy 16:19).In the New Testament, Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one
and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both
God and money” (Matthew 6:24). The Qur’an warns, “Do not usurp one another’s property by
unjust means nor offer it to the judges so that you may devour knowingly and unjustly a portion of
the good of others” (Surat Al‐Baqarah, 2:188).
Existing campaign finance laws provide persons and groups with extraordinary wealth unfairinfluence over the political process by providing them with special access to elected officials. Thisultimately results in legislative outcomes that reflect the needs of those with the financial means tomake political contributions, and not the needs of the rest of the public. The 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will surely amplify the voices of wealthycampaign donors and bring new powerful players to the fore at the expense of everyone else.
For these reasons, we believe our state legislature must address the problems of the current campaign finance system.
inspired to hear that New York’s elected officials are taking a
lead on this important issue. We understand Speaker Silver and the New York State Assembly hassupported a bill that would institute a system of public campaign finance similar to the successfulNew York City program, for some time. Last month, we were even more encouraged to hearGovernor Andrew Cuomo make reforming our campaign finance laws a priority for 2012 in hisannual State of the State address.
Instituting a public‐financing‐of‐elect
ions system, meaningful enforcement and reasonablecontributions limits would empower average people to participate in the political process, andwould return the gaze of our elected officials solely to the needs of their districts and the state as awhole, rather than the narrow interests of those with significant financial resources for campaigns.We pledge our support, as leaders of faith, to work among members of our congregations to