Brennan Center, NY LEAD, Others Call for Campaign Finance Reform in New York State

April 3, 2013

Latest Scandal Another Example of Why New York Must Empower Voters with Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform

Contact: Brennan Center, Erik Opsal, 646-292-8356, erik.opsal@nyu.edu
Fair Elections NY, Morgan Hook, 301-801-6949, mhook@skdknick.com
Common Cause/NY: 212-691-6421

New York, NY – The Brennan Center for Justice, NY LEAD, Fair Elections for New York, and Common Cause today once again called for comprehensive campaign finance reform with public financing at its core. With the most recent elections scandal, there is an urgent need to empower everyday New Yorkers to take back their democracy.

“Corruption scandals in New York are, unfortunately, nothing new. The number of state office holders who have been arrested in the last decade is itself a scandal,” said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The question is what are we going to do about it? Albany must work for voters, not dollars. To increase New Yorkers’ confidence in their elected officials, legislative leaders need to move on small donor public financing and comprehensive reform as soon as they’re back in session.”

"The culture of pay to play in our politics puts principles for sale to the highest bidder, and discourages New Yorkers while breeding mistrust among the voters. That's why we need a Fair Elections system of robust campaign finance reform, built around a core of small donor matching funds - to restore accountability to the voters, and give average people a place at the table. As part of the Fair Elections coalition, Common Cause/NY is committed to working with Governor Cuomo to empower the public and stem the outrageous influence of money on our political process," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

"New Yorkers don't need any more reminders that our state desperately needs a bold solution to the problem of money in politics," said Jessica Wisneski, Legislative Director for Citizen Action of New York. "This latest news only adds to the urgency for Albany to act. By passing comprehensive campaign finance reform, with publicly financed elections at its core, we'll finally have a system where our government can be responsive to voters, instead of responsive to dollars."

Also speaking was NY LEAD member Richard J. Davis, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who worked in the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s office, and a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who helped craft the Iran-U.S. Hostage Release Agreement. He is currently a member of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

“New Yorkers will undoubtedly react to this scandal with anger and disgust, as they should,” said NY LEAD member Peter Zimroth, a partner at Arnold & Porter who served as New York City's corporation counsel from 1987 to 1989. “But the danger is that only reinforces cynicism about the political process. We have an opportunity today to harness this anger and make important change. It happened in 1988 after a series of political scandals in the city. The mayor and the City Council passed landmark laws to give a voice to citizens without access to large sums of money. Now it must happen in Albany.”

For more information about the Fair Elections campaign, please visit www.fairelectionsny.org.