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Campaign Finance in New York State

The Brennan Center has long advocated for democracy reforms, including small donor public financing, in our home state of New York.


Big donors domin­ate New York State elec­tions, earn­ing the state a long­stand­ing repu­ta­tion for pay-to-play lawmak­ing and polit­ical corrup­tion. Imple­ment­ing small donor public finan­cing would meas­ur­ably increase the voice of regu­lar New York­ers in the polit­ical process and incentiv­ize candid­ates to turn to them for campaign support. 

The Bren­nan Center has a long history of work­ing to improve demo­cracy in our home state of New York. We play a lead­ing role in a broad coali­tion of issue and grass­roots groups call­ing for compre­hens­ive reform of New York elec­tion laws, begin­ning with small donor public finan­cing. We also work with a group of the state’s busi­ness and civic lead­ers, NY LEAD (New York Lead­er­ship for Account­able Govern­ment), who urge campaign finance reform to increase fair­ness and integ­rity in govern­ment.    

In April 2019, New York lawmakers passed a budget bill paving the way for a small donor public finan­cing program for statewide and state legis­lat­ive offices. A commis­sion has been tasked with design­ing the program by Decem­ber 1. 

This program, adap­ted from New York City’s success­ful model, would incentiv­ize candid­ates to seek campaign support from a broad swath of regu­lar New York­ers rather than just a few wealthy donors. New York should also lower its excep­tion­ally high contri­bu­tion limits, which allow indi­vidu­als to give as much as $69,700 to a candid­ate for statewide office. 

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