End New York's Political Corruption
months, New York suffered a black eye from the all-too-familiar one-two
punch of public corruption.
We saw several
New York politicians arrested, indicted, and/or convicted. Most of them
are accused of illegally exchanging money in return for promising to
provide improper influence.
transgressions have become far too common in New York State - 32 New
York officials have been indicted, convicted or censured in the last
seven years, according to the New York Public Interest Research
So, what's a
concerned electorate to do?
some of BALCONY's influential members have recently released reform
proposals that have received considerable media attention.
CHELIOTES CALLS FOR PUBLICLY FINANCED CAMPAIGNS
Arthur Cheliotes, President of Communications Workers
of America Local 1180 and a BALCONY Co-Founder, has long advocated
for an overhaul of New York State's campaign finance laws, with a
publicly financed campaign system like New York City's at the center of
In April,The New York Times published a Letter to the Editor
from Cheliotes. In short, the letter suggested three
major provisions that should be part of any changes to New York State's
campaign finance laws: a tax credit for small donors, a luxury tax on
donations over $200, and a publicly financed campaign system.
Cheliotes expanded on his idea in a BALCONY New York Times
state's lax campaign finance laws have perpetuated
a "show-me-the-money" culture
in Albany, with many lawmakers willing to
trade influence for cash, Cheliotes contended.
ACT PASSES NYS ASSEMBLY
for New York, a partnership comprising several
BALCONY members, is urging New York State
to adopt public financing and
has undertaken an advertising campaign to
promote the issue. Fair Elections' reform
proposal consists of four key goals: publicly
financed elections, lower contribution limits,
ending pay-to-play politics, and stronger
enforcement and transparency measures.
New York State Assembly, under Speaker Sheldon
Silver's leadership, passed the Fair Elections Act
this month. The bill would set up a
publicly financed campaign system similar
to New York City's. There would be
6-to-1 matching funds for eligible candidates,
up to $250. An independent five-member
board would oversee the campaign finance
system and there would be stiffer penalties
for violations. There would also be
stronger disclosure requirements.
The bill awaits action
in the State Senate.
NY SHOULD LOOK TO SUCCESS OF PUBLIC FINANCING IN CT
Demos, a key BALCONY
member, released a report last month
detailing the benefits of publicly financed campaigns in neighboring
Connecticut. DEMOS President Miles Rapoport lauded Connecticut's
Citizen's Election Fund in a op-ed published by
the Albany Times-Union. The report
found a number of positives: Public financing allows legislators to
spend more time interacting with constituents, it increases the number
of donors, lobbyists' influence begins to decline, more people are able
to run for office, a more diverse set of candidates are elected, it
creates a more substantive legislative process and policies are more
aligned with public preferences.
PLAN: MAKE STATE POLS FULL TIME, PAY
Bill Samuels, Founder and Chair of New Roosevelt, and a
BALCONY member, also announced a reform proposal that
was publicized by a number of media outlets, including City &
State. The New Roosevelt plan advocates for a higher-paid,
"full-time" state legislature. By increasing legislators'
pay, the state could then ban lawmakers from working for outside
interests that could benefit from legislative influence.
Dubbed the Samuels
Dedicated Legislature Plan, the New
Roosevelt pitch aims to "act as a deterrent to lawmakers who feel
the personal financial pressures to trade on their position and second,
to bring a new professionalism needed to the job by attracting a new
generation of political aspirants, who don't have law practices or
business consulting firms."
BALCONY and its
members are deeply concerned by the recent onslaught of alleged
corruption, but are happy to announce that we will continue to play a
leading role in the fight for reform!
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