Over the next several weeks, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will send regular updates to this list of Friends of Reform in New York State on efforts to secure comprehensive campaign finance reform centered on public financing of elections. These updates will be sent to good government advocates, allies of the Fair Elections New York campaign, legislative and opinion leaders, scholars and engaged students, reporters, and other advocates for reform. They will also be posted on the Brennan Center’s New York blog at ReformNY.blogspot.com.
Moreland Hearing Tonight
Tonight, the Moreland Commission will hold a hearing at 5:00 p.m. in the Javits Center, 1E Hall Rooms 12-13, focusing on campaign finance reform. The invited speakers are:
- New York State Board of Elections Co-Executive Directors, Robert Brehm & Todd Valentine and Deputy Enforcement Counsel, William McCann
- New York City Campaign Finance Board Executive Director, Amy Loprest
- Connecticut Deputy Secretary of State, James Spallone & Demos President, Miles Rapoport
- NYC Council Members, Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca
At this hearing the Moreland Commission will investigate current problems with campaign finance enforcement and hear about successful reforms in New York City and Connecticut. Unlike New York State, Connecticut and New York City have strong enforcement agencies created in response to public corruption crises. Both enforcement agencies are strengthened by public campaign financing systems: When disbursement of public funds is conditioned on compliance with campaign finance laws, candidates have a powerful incentive to stay in line.
While the hearing will necessarily emphasize the failure to enforce New York State’s current campaign finance laws, it would be unfortunate if that was the sole focus. In Albany the real scandal is what is perfectly legal. Contribution limits are sky-high and full of loopholes, disclosure requirements are lax, and a pay-to-play culture rewards the biggest campaign contributors while locking ordinary citizens out of the political process. If tonight’s hearing focuses only on high-profile bribery cases or how much money is in the Board of Elections’ budget, the Moreland Commission will have lost a crucial opportunity to examine changes that can profoundly transform Albany.
We are hopeful that commissioners will devote the necessary time and attention to these topics:
- The adequacy of the State Board of Elections’ current report filing schedule (January, July, and a few times during the fall), which limits the contribution information available during the legislative session.
- The adequacy of current State Board of Elections rules governing disclosure of independent expenditures, which is limited to express advocacy.
- The high rate at which candidates from both parties participate in New York and Connecticut’s public funding systems, and the reasons for that success.
- The ways that public campaign financing and effective enforcement support each other, through both powerful financial incentives and meaningful transparency.
- How public funding allows candidates to respond to independent expenditures.
The Moreland Commission will issue its first report in the beginning of December.
Relevant Clips and Links
How to Make the Impossible Possible with, Yes, a Government Commission. Karen Scharff of Citizen Action of New York argues that the Moreland Commission can change what’s possible if it makes the demand for change irresistible by showing just how bad the current situation is.
Moreland’s Next Hearing, Without Good-government Groups. Jessica Alaimo and Jimmy Vielkind give a preview of tonight’s hearing.
Start the Process for Meaningful Campaign Reform. Assemblywoman Didi Barrett calls for comprehensive campaign finance reform to address the insidious dominance of money in the halls of power.