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Brennan Center Disappointed in Decision to Shut Down Moreland Commission

Shutting down the Moreland Commission, and creating a pilot public financing program for Comptroller in 2014, will be counterproductive to the goal of comprehensive campaign finance reform.

March 30, 2014

The Bren­nan Center is extremely disap­poin­ted with the governor’s prom­ise to shut down the More­land Commis­sion to Invest­ig­ate Public Corrup­tion if and when the legis­lature passes the budget bills currently before them.

In its prelim­in­ary report, the More­land Commis­sion care­fully detailed the toxic influ­ence of big money on the state’s polit­ical system, and how that influ­ence is directly related to our broken campaign finance laws. It noted that “the real scan­dal is what remains legal. New York’s campaign finance laws and prac­tices enable special interests and wealthy indi­vidu­als to flood the polit­ical process with enorm­ous amounts of money.” This obser­va­tion will remain as true after the budget is passed as before. The bills do not reduce a single sky-high contri­bu­tion limit or close a single contri­bu­tion loop­hole.

Most import­antly, the legis­lature has failed to adopt a compre­hens­ive small donor match­ing system, which would have allowed the voices of aver­age New York­ers to counter the domin­ance of special interest money over the state’s policy decisions. The proposed pilot public finan­cing program for Comp­troller in 2014 only will not have time to be imple­men­ted prop­erly, and includes loop­holes that will ensure its fail­ure. If anything, we view it as coun­ter­pro­duct­ive to the goal of reform.