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Money in New York Politics: Cuomo Ignores Calls for Debates

A roundup with the latest news highlighting the corrosive nature of money in New York State politics — and the need for public financing and robust campaign finance reform.

  • Eric Petry
August 15, 2014

Cross­pos­ted at ReformNY

The Bren­nan Center regu­larly compiles the latest news concern­ing the corros­ive nature of money in New York State polit­ic­s—and the ongo­ing need for public finan­cing and robust campaign finance reform. This week’s links were contrib­uted by Eric Petry.

For more stor­ies on an ongo­ing basis, follow the Twit­ter hasht­ags #moNeY­po­lit­ics and #faire­lex.


Cuomo Ignores Calls for Debates

So far this elec­tion cycle, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ignored repeated calls for a debate from GOP candid­ate Rob Astorino on the right and Demo­cratic primary chal­lenger Zephyr Teachout on the left. Cuomo campaign offi­cials have respon­ded only by point­ing out that debate nego­ti­ations typic­ally commence in Septem­ber, thereby elim­in­at­ing the chances of a Demo­cratic primary debate. A debate between Cuomo and Astorino, on the other hand, remains possible, but Astorino insists they face each other one-on-one. While debates with many candid­ates allows for more voices to be heard, it also “works for the incum­bent” says Lee Mirin­goff of the Marist Poll in Pough­keep­sie. Some doubt that debates would have much effect on the elec­tion, given Cuomo’s huge campaign funds advant­age over Astorino and the fact that Cuomo leads by more than 30 points in the polls. Still, good govern­ment groups, academ­ics, and many others main­tain that debates serve a vital role in elec­tions, giving voters the oppor­tun­ity to become better informed about the candid­ates. 

Despite Criti­cism, Cuomo Holds Wide Lead Over Chal­lenger, Poll Finds

A recent poll conduc­ted by Siena College shows that although a large major­ity of New York voters believe Governor Andrew Cuomo’s hand­ling of the More­land Commis­sion was inap­pro­pri­ate, they still view him favor­ably and would vote to re-elect him. The poll was conduc­ted from August 4 to August 7 in the wake of renewed federal invest­ig­a­tions and wide­spread criti­cisms of how the More­land Commis­sion was abruptly ended. Despite an over­whelm­ing feel­ing among parti­cipants that corrup­tion is still a major prob­lem in the New York State govern­ment and general disagree­ment with Governor Cuomo’s claim that the More­land Commis­sion was success­ful, 58 percent of voters said they would vote to re-elect him. These results imply that the New York Times article detail­ing ways the governor’s office tried to control the commis­sion and the ongo­ing federal invest­ig­a­tion have not caused seri­ous damage to the governor’s campaign head­ing into elec­tion season.

Judge Rules Teachout Can Stay on Ballot

On Monday, a New York judge threw out the resid­ency chal­lenge brought against Zephyr Teachout’s candid­acy for governor follow­ing a two-day trial in Brook­lyn last week. During the trial, elec­tion lawyer Marty Connors argued that Teachout has not been a continu­ous resid­ent of New York for the past five years – a minimum require­ment to be governor – because she spent a signi­fic­ant portion of her time out of state and main­tained a Vermont address on her driver’s license. Despite these claims, Justice Edgar G. Walker ruled that Teachout has demon­strated “suffi­cient intent” to reside in New York and dismissed the chal­lenge. In a state­ment earlier this week, Connors made clear his inten­tion to appeal the decision, saying that “Ms. Teachout admit­ted under oath that she misrep­res­en­ted her address on offi­cial and tax docu­ments.” The appeal will be heard on August 19.