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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.

Overview

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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