Friday, December 16, 2011

Money and Politics This Week

Every Friday, the Brennan Center will be compiling the latest news concerning the corrosive nature of money in New York State politics—and the ongoing need for public financing and robust campaign finance reform. We’ll also be linking to dispatches from around the country highlighting the national scope of this crisis. This week’s links were contributed by Matthew Ladd.

For more stories on an ongoing basis, follow the Twitter hashtag #moNeYpolitics

NY Campaign Finance and Ethics News

1. Gov. Cuomo’s office has released the names of the commissioners appointed to New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Gov. Cuomo appointed six of the commission’s 14 members, including chairwoman Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County District Attorney; six more were appointed by Senate majority leader Dean Skelos and Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. Yet the picks have generated some criticism, particularly the appointment of Manhattan attorney Ravi Batra, a former legal partner of Clarence Norman, who was convicted of misusing campaign funds while he chaired the Brooklyn Democratic Party. According to Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, “It’s as if the Senate Democrats had not put on their eyeglasses.”

2. The corruption trial of City Councilman Larry Seabrook, charged with funneling over $1 million in public money to nonprofit groups that he controlled, as well as family members and friend, ended last Friday in a mistrial. Seabrook was interviewed earlier this week on NY1 to defend himself, an appearance that drew a scathing editorial from the New York Post, which wished US Attorney Preet Bharara “the best of luck” in retrying him.

3. On Wednesday, the New York Public Interest Research Group released a report tracking lobbying expenditures during the first 10 months of 2011. The report reveals that the Committee to Save New York, a coalition of business and real estate organizations, spent nearly $10 million in 2011, far beyond the $6.8 million spent by the next-highest lobbying group. The report can be downloaded here.

4. Carl Kruger, whose corruption trial is scheduled to begin in January, may also be finally facing some real competition for his senate seat. Although no formal announcement has been made, Brooklyn City Councilman Lew Fidler is rumored to be considering a run against Kruger in 2013.

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