Paper Thin: The Flimsy Facade of Campaign Finance Laws in New York

July 20, 2006

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Today, there is wide agreement that government in New York is broken. There is a sense of inertia and torpor, of long-deferred problems, and of a political culture far less robust than elsewhere. The Brennan Center in 2004 published a widely quoted study on the state legislature, concluding that it was dysfunctional and the countrys worst. The reports impact was so sharp not because people believed it was wrong, but because they knew it was right.

This new Brennan Center report looks at another troubling aspect of New Yorks democracy: the paper-thin campaign finance laws. As the authors demonstrate, New York States laws are among the nations weakest on a par with libertarian states that dont pretend to care about the role of money in politics. The result is interest group paralysis and an incumbent re-election rate all too reminiscent of the Supreme Soviet.