Monday, December 20, 2010

Sen. Bill Bradley Joins Call for Ethics Reform with Public Financing of Elections

Former Sen. Bill Bradley has joined the call for an ethics reform package that will include public financing of elections. His piece in Sunday’s NY Daily News echoes much of what my colleague Larry Norden blogged, as well as the letter the Brennan Center recently sent the Governor-Elect.

The former Senator makes the case that Albany’s broken political system, outdated campaign finance laws, and the string of recent political scandals involving elected officials, must be overhauled through a comprehensive ethics reform bill that includes public financing of elections. The amount of money and the lack of disclosure of who is financing our elections only make it more likely the special interests will continue to run Albany. And the continued secrecy behind the clients of legislator-attorneys only adds to this problem.

Shifting to a system which increases the influence of ordinary citizens will help restore accountability to public officials. We are pleased to note that Sen. Bradley concludes as we do as to what the standard for statewide public financing should look like: New York City’s small-donor matching funds system. The Senator recognizes that if the Governor-Elect wishes to make due on his campaign promise of reform, he must begin with a comprehensive ethics package with public financing of elections.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Civic Groups Call for Rules Reform in Albany

In an effort to change the way the business is run in Albany, the Brennan Center for Justice, Citizens Union, Common Cause/NY, League of Women Voters of New York State, and New York Public Interest Research Group sent the following letters to members of the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate, outlining the specific rules reforms each chamber can take to make New York's Legislature more democratic, transparent, and accountable.

Letter to New York State Assembly Members

Letter to New York State Senators

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The laws that govern money in politics in New York State are at least 30 years out of date.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.