Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reform Day Recap and the $55,900 Question

The Brennan Center, represented by Beth Foster, co-author of the last Albany rules update, and yours truly, attended Reform Day ‘08 with the leaders of Common Cause New York, NYPIRG, Citizens Union, Citizen Action, Democracy for New York, among others, and 150 passionate and knowledgeable activists from around the state.

Below are links to some of the media coverage that tell the story, but it’s worth talking about other news today: Governor Paterson reversing Governor Spitzer’s self-imposed $10,000 contribution limit. New York has some of the nation’s highest contributions limits—$55,900 for individuals—and among the loosest campaign finance laws, which allowed Mayor Bloomberg to donate $500,000 to the state Republican party, a form of soft money that the federal government banned in 2002.

The question today is: do we fault Governor Paterson for breaking his predecessor’s pledge. The short answer is no—with a giant but. (In fact Governor Spitzer skirted his own self-imposed limits by seeking bundled contributions.)

I couldn't take issue with the governor for playing by the rules, even if absurdly lax. I hope and have faith that before the end of session the governor will propose and make an energetic effort to enact wide-ranging campaign finance reform starting with lowering the sky-high contribution limits.

A few links to Reform Day coverage:

Even if the governor’s absence caused a bit of a stir, we have hope he’ll embrace the reform agenda.

Attorney Andrew General Cuomo pledged support for an independent Ethics Commission, an independent redistricting commission and gave a shout out to the Brennan Center’s rules report. And the attorney general has rejected 1,000 requests for member item grants so far this year.

Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith declared: “Joe Bruno, your time has come. Reform is on the way!

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