Public financing needed for New York’s elections

A recent letter opposing public financing for state elections was written on behalf of the Center for Competitive Politics. It should be noted that this right-wing organization not only opposes public campaign financing in any form, but strongly supports the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations, unions and super PACs to spend unlimited money to promote or oppose candidates in elections.

New York State needs a system of public financing and, according to the Moreland Commission, it is a reform that cannot wait. In our current system, or lack thereof, large donors set the legislative agenda. In 2011, for instance, 127 large donors contributed a whopping $17 million to state races.

Public financing systems, like the one in place in New York City, make a real difference, empowering citizens, reducing the power of special interests and increasing the accountability of officials to those they serve. We need a system that includes an independent enforcement agency with a vigorous enforcement arm. Donor contributions must be capped and matched. It is estimated that a 6-to-1 matching system would cost New Yorkers no more than about $5 per person each year. Most importantly, disclosure must be strict and transparent.

Considering that the financial support for the Center for Competitive Politics comes from donors that the group refuses to identify, it’s hardly surprising that it opposes campaign finance reform.

Barbara Jezioro