Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Want to change Albany? Start with the way we finance elections.

The laws that govern money in politics in New York State are at least 30 years out of date. Meanwhile, the state has been embarrassed by the scandalous sight of jailed elected officials and a legislature which the public continues to regard with great suspicion. But as we urged in the New York Times, our new Governor Elect has a chance to finally change the way business is done in Albany by prioritizing ethics and campaign finance reforms.

Ethics reforms were nearly adopted under the Paterson Administration and the Assembly has passed campaign finance bills again and again only to see them flounder. But there is new hope in the Capitol because the incoming Governor made reform a central tenet of his election campaign. Therefore, Albany watchers predict that an ethics reform package is certain to be part of the Legislature’s early agenda come January. The Brennan Center has long argued that real campaign finance reform, with public financing as its centerpiece, is the best way to restore integrity and honesty to state government.

For these reasons, the Brennan Center sent a letter to Governor-elect Cuomo shortly after the election, urging him to keep small-donor based public financing and other campaign finance reforms at the top of his agenda. It will certainly be at the top of our agenda in the coming weeks and months. It's this simple: if there is any hope of changing the culture in Albany, we must change how we finance New York State elections.

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