For Immediate Release: May 1, 2012 Contact: Gary Ginsburg | garykginsburg@gmail.

com | 518-817-6193

Senate Democratic Conference Calls for Immediate Action on 2012 Campaign Finance Reform Act
(Albany, NY) The Senate Democratic Conference today held a press conference calling for much needed reforms to the campaign finance system in New York State. Members of the conference were joined by good government groups and campaign finance activists to urge the Republican Majority to allow campaign finance reform legislation to the Senate floor for a vote. “The alarming trend of big businesses and special interests flooding elections with hundreds of millions of dollars should serve as a wake-up call to all residents of New York,” Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson said. “Candidates are forced to raise ever-increasing sums of money just to be taken seriously in elections, which means the focus shifts from serving the people to serving the donors. We must reverse course and pass campaign finance reform immediately, and I call on my Republican colleagues to join the Democratic conference in this effort.” The Senate Democrats organized this event to discuss the 2012 Campaign Finance Reform Act, S.3584-B, sponsored by Senator Eric Adams. Enacting this legislation would provide a comprehensive, yet balanced, approach to the public financing of political campaigns in New York. The bill would effectively strike a balance that will allow challengers and incumbents to compete fairly while capping the amount of public funds that will be expended. “I am proud to introduce legislation that will take campaign finance a step further by leveling the financial playing field,” Senator Eric Adams stated. “My legislation would encourage every day citizens to participate in the democratic process and have an equal opportunity to run for elected office.” The 2012 Campaign Finance Reform Act will address many of the loopholes and oversights which currently consign New York‟s election law to being among the most lax in the nation. This legislation will provide specific figures for the public financing of campaigns and address how campaign funds can be utilized, to ensure that the line between proper and improper use of campaign funds is easily understandable and enforceable. Additionally, S.3584-B will bar individuals from soliciting or receiving of contributions for state or federal a campaign while serving in a senior policy position in the legislative or executive branch. This provision is in response to the recent disclosure from a head of an executive agency who acknowledged that though he was not a candidate for any office, he continued to raise and

spend campaign funds to enhance his life style. This bill will also require campaign committees to identify contributions from registered lobbyists. “For government to serve New Yorkers and for New Yorkers to have faith in government, we must change the way Albany does business. That means creating a more accountable and effective government by reforming New York‟s campaign finance and creating a system of public financing,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “It‟s time to pass public financing, rein in the unchecked political influence of those who can afford it, and put political power back in the hands of the people. I‟m proud to work with Senator Adams and our colleagues to fight for this critical reform, in addition to my bills to lower contribution limits and make the other necessary changes to ensure an effective New York government.” “Political spending in New York State is out of control. Massive five-figure checks from lobbyists, corporate insiders, and the ultra-wealthy have become the life‟s blood of politics in Albany,” said Senator Liz Krueger. “We need Albany focused on the whole economy and all New Yorkers, not just the narrow interests of a few big spenders. Comprehensive campaign finance reform -- with lower donation limits and matching funds to reduce the reliance on big checks -- is the only way to root out the corruption fueled by the free flow of money in politics.” “At a time when the outsized influence of money in politics is more troublesome than ever, campaign finance reform is one of the most important changes we can make to improve our democratic process,” Senator Michael Gianaris stated. “I urge the Senate Republicans to bring this legislation to a vote so we can reduce the possibility of corruption and ensure that elected officials act in the best interest of their constituents rather than those with the deepest pockets.” “Ensuring that working families and communities of color have the right to vote is not enough,” Senator Gustavo Rivera stated. “Democratic societies must guarantee the right for ordinary citizens to run and win elective office. The gap between our government and the people grows wider when only the wealthy or well connected get elected. Passing campaign finance reform will go a long way in leveling the playing field for citizens from all walks of life to become public servants.” “Powerful, moneyed interests play far too significant of a role in our government,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Queens), a longtime proponent of campaign finance reforms. “We must pass this bill, to end the oversized influence of a few wealthy donors. My primary in 2010, one of the most expensive in history, is a perfect example of money trying to buy an office. One opponent reported spending $763,584 and the other spent $464,272. That‟s over a million dollars, for a combined $228 per vote they received. We need meaningful regulation to curb these abuses.” “The very foundation of our democracy is that everyone is equal and empowered to have their voices heard. By further regulating campaign finance we are sending a message that the most important factor in elections is the will of the people and not that of the donors,” Senator Tony Avella said. “This legislation will provide greater safeguards against unethical behavior and fundraising tactics and will ensure a level playing field for all electoral candidates in New York.”

“Lax campaign finance laws and the influx of anonymous „big money‟ political communications are wreaking havoc with our most precious right of democracy – the ability to choose our representatives in free and fair elections,” Senator Suzi Oppenheimer stated. “That is why I support this legislation, which provides a more balanced approach to political campaigns through partial public financing, realistic limitations on expenditures and contributions, and greater transparency.” “It is very fashionable these days to claim that Albany is no longer dysfunctional -- but this could not be further from the truth,” said Senator Thomas K. Duane. “The pay to play culture in the State Legislature is rampant and ensures that well-financed special interests and high paid lobbyists succeed in passing or killing legislation while the poor and disenfranchised cannot afford the tools to fight back. That is the epitome of dysfunction. Sadly, moral, decent, and ethical arguments are not enough to persuade legislators to stop injustice and do what is fair and righteous. Campaign Finance Reform would go a very long way towards leveling the playing field. This is Democracy. I urge the Senate and Assembly Majorities to pass this legislation immediately.” Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY, said, “We need Fair Elections so that our elected officials are accountable to the people who put them in office, not the special interests which fund their campaigns. Our current system undermines the very essence of democracy and advantages big money donors over the needs of average voters. Public policy shouldn‟t be set by the highest bidder. We look forward to working with the Senate Democrats and Speaker Silver so that all New Yorkers can have a fair say in our democracy.” Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York, said, “There is a growing movement across New York and America to transform our system of elections into a truly democratic one, where money no longer means more than votes. We applaud Senator Sampson, Senator Adams and their colleagues for fighting for Fair Elections campaign finance reform. With strong grassroots support across the state, and the support of the Assembly, the Senate Democrats, and Governor Cuomo, we are moving closer to enacting the reform that voters have been waiting for, to finally counter the influence of CEO campaign cash with the voices of ordinary voters.” Mark Ladov, Counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, said, “The Brennan Center applauds Senator Adams for introducing a comprehensive proposal for the public financing of state elections. This bill provides another step forward for a small donor matching program backed with strong enforcement and greater transparency of political spending. We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and Legislature to incorporate public financing in the New York campaign system.” Dave Palmer, Executive Director of the Center for Working Families, said, “The legislative proposals put forward today, if law, would go a long way toward increasing the voices of average people in the political process. Who could be against that?”

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful