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June 10, 2013 State Senate Co-President Jeff Klein State Senator David Carlucci State Senator Diane Savino State Senator David Valesky Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12247 To the Members of the Independent Democratic Conference: This has been a strange and difficult year in New York State government. It is in your hands whether 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 would allow major reforms to get passed, including “serious campaign finance reform.” He added that he 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 real campaign 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 the floor without the support of the Senate Republicans, even though they make up a minority of the chamber. 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 an important first step. However, introducing a bill without working to get it passed is worth little to the 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 the state 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 only a vote will do that. This is a critical moment. If you bring campaign finance reform legislation to a vote, New Yorkers will celebrate your 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 Davis Cynthia DiBartolo CEO of Tigress Financial Partners Chairperson 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 Gumowitz Steven Haft Christie 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 Kaplan Robert M. Kaufman Proskauer Rose
Fmr. Senator Bob Kerrey Co-Chair of Americans for Campaign Reform Jerome Kohlberg Kohlberg & Company and the Kohlberg Foundation Daniel F. Kolb Davis Polk & Wardwell Dan Kramer Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison Eric Lane Dean, Hofstra Law School Geraldine B. Laybourne Peter Lehner Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Council Marjorie Press Lindblom of counsel (retired partner), Kirkland & Ellis LLP John MacIntosh SeaChange Capital Partners Dennis Mehiel Chairman and CEO of U.S. Corrugated Chairman and CEO of Battery Park City Danny Meyer CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group Judith Mogul Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer, P.C. Dan Neidich Dune Real Estate Partners LP Eugene Pinover Willkie Farr & Gallagher Philip D. Radford Greenpeace US Executive Director
Frederic C. Rich Sullivan & Cromwell LLP Jonathan F.P. Rose President, Jonathan Rose Companies Donald Rubin Co-founder, Rubin Museum of Art Shelley Rubin Co-founder, Rubin Museum of Art Susan Rubinstein George E. Rupp President, International Rescue Committee Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr. Brennan Center for Justice Thomas J. Schwarz Claire Silberman Daniel A. Simon Jonathan Soros JS Capital Management, LLC Sung-Hee Suh Jeffrey C. Walker Frank Weil Chairman, Abacus & Associates Marc N. Weiss Founder, WebLab John C. Wilcox Chairman, SODALI Kent Yalowitz Arnold & Porter LLP
Peter L. Zimroth Arnold & Porter LLP Individuals have signed in their personal capacities. All affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.