Monday, February 28, 2011

Executives, Clergy, and Former Politicians Agree on Voter Owned Elections

The Wall Street Journal reported today that a bipartisan group of leaders from the business community, clergy members, and former politicians have united in support of curbing the influence of special interests in New York State by creating a system of "voter owned elections" through voluntary public financing. The group wrote Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday, calling on him to work with closely with the legislature to create a public financing system similar to New York City’s which has increased competition, grassroots campaigning and citizen participation. We have previously blogged on the urgent need for public financing in New York.

“Real change can’t happen in Albany until we limit the torrent of special interest money flowing into incumbents’ coffers and create a public funding system that will provide a real alternative for candidates from the current status quo of money and politics,” the group wrote Gov. Cuomo last Friday.

The prominent bipartisan list of signatories include U.S. Senators Bill Bradley and Bob Kerrey, three former members of the U.S. House of Representatives, former Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission under George W. Bush, former New York City Mayor Edward Koch, Chief Counsel at Brennan Center for Justice Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., Seagram’s former President Edgar Bronfman, Sr., Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, former Fordham University President Father Joseph O’Hare, New York State NAACP President Hazel N. Dukes, among others.

New York’s campaign finance laws are at least 30 years out of date. A recent NYPIRG analysis on our state’s sky high contribution limits further highlights the weaknesses of our campaign finance laws as special interest money continues to flood into our state. As we argue in our recent study on ethics, if there is any hope of changing the culture in Albany we must start by changing the way we finance elections.

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