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Campaign finance laws hurting our democracy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014-2015 budget proposal includes important steps in the direction of campaign finance reform, and the League of Women Voters calls upon the Legislature and governor to make comprehensive reform a reality with the passage of this budget.

The current campaign finance system erodes public trust and negatively effects democratic engagement. New York needs vigorous and independent enforcement of campaign finance laws, lower contribution limits, elimination of loopholes, robust disclosure and a small-donor matching system for elections, all of which were recommended by the Moreland Commission. The inclusion of campaign finance reform in the budget presents an opportunity to obtain the reforms we so desperately need.

Current campaign laws negatively impact our democracy by creating an environment in which wealthy individuals, corporations, unions, lobbyists and other organizations buy influence and access.

The influence of money in politics destroys the public’s faith in government. Legislators spend inordinate amounts of time raising money to finance their campaigns and many well-qualified people are prevented from seeking office by lack of funds.

These problems can be corrected. All contribution limits by individuals, corporations and unions must be reduced. All loopholes must be closed. There must be a significant improvement for disclosure of contributions. A truly independent and strong campaign finance enforcement body must be created. And finally, the state must enact a publicly funded matching grants system that increases citizen participation and the impact of small donations.

Joan T. Parks

President, League of Women

Voters of Buffalo/Niagara