Common Cause NewYork

More than Three Decades of Holding Power Accountable

Common Cause/New York is in the forefront of the movement for independent redistricting, campaign finance and ethics reform, corporate accountability and elections that are honest, inclusive and verifiable.


  • 2012 Our Citizens Redistricting Commission draws the only set of fair, non-partisan redistricting maps for all of New York State. Our maps are praised by virtually every editorial board. The new Congressional maps are based, in large part, on Common Cause/NY suggestions.

    We successfully persuaded Governor Cuomo to loosen the rules regarding affidavit ballots, so that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy could vote anywhere in the state.

    Common Cause/NY spearheaded development of PollWatchUSA, a mobile app that allows voters to report poll place problems in real time through their cell phones.

  • 2011 We have made significant gains in several areas during the past year and we're on track to build on our record in 2012. We were leaders in the successful effort to end prison-based gerrymandering in New York State. We exposed the money spent by special interest groups on advertising and grassroots lobbying campaigns to force disclosure of their contributors.

    We are currently assembling the only independent Citizen's Redistricting Committee to draw fair, non-politicized maps for Federal and State voting districts to serve as a benchmark by which news organizations, Governor Cuomo and the public can judge the Legislature’s efforts.


  • 2008 Common Cause New York and its allies led discussions urging the adoption of far-ranging changes to the way discretionary funds are allocated by New York City’s Council, leading to pre-qualification requirements for recipients and electronic disclosure of grants and Council member conflicts of interest prior to approval of the City budget.


  • The statewide coalition co-led by Common Cause New York is successful in defeating efforts to require New York counties to purchase inaccurate and unreliable touch-screen ballot marking devices for use in November’s election. The State Board of Elections certifies optical scan machines as advocated by the Common Cause New York-led coalition.


  • Common Cause New York along with other civic organizations files amicus briefs defending recent amendments to NYC’s municipal finance system from challenge and supporting Chief Judge Kaye’s suit to require judicial pay raises.


  • 2007 Common Cause New York successfully lobbied to tighten state ethics rules including a ban on gifts, restrictions on lawmakers accepting honoraria, expanded “revolving door” restrictions and the formation of a new Commission on Public Integrity. 


  • Common Cause New York and its allies successfully advocated for the most far-ranging changes yet to the City campaign finance system. The changes were designed to enhance the power of small donors and reduce the influence of large donors and those who do business with the City. In addition to increasing the matching amounts on the first $175 of private contributions to a 6 to 1 match, the amendments sharply capped contributions from lobbyists, developers, municipal bond underwriters, and those with city contracts of $100,000 or more, and required the City to create a database of companies doing business with the City.


  • 2006 Common Cause New York, a plaintiff, wins landmark lawsuit challenging New York State’s undemocratic method of selecting Supreme Court Justices; victory is upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit but later overturned by the US Supreme Court.


  • Common Cause New York successfully advocates for passage of historic package of lobby reforms by the New York City Council. The package bans gifts from lobbyists, makes campaign contributions from lobbyists ineligible for matching funds in New York City’s public financing system, improves disclosure requirements and increases penalties.


  • 2005 Common Cause New York and our coalition partners led lobbying efforts in both houses of the New York State Legislature to pass bills that mandate a voter verifiable paper audit trail for new voting machines.


  • The Year of Reform: Common Cause New York successfully lobbies for the passage of seven reform bills on topics ranging from legislative rules to lobby and campaign finance disclosure. Reforms are broad but not deep.


  • Televised Coverage of Legislative Proceedings instituted in Albany following an earlier Common Cause New York report calling for the creation of a “C-SPAN” for New York State.


  • 2004 Young Voter Registration Act, endorsed by Common Cause New York and other civic organizations, passes in New York City, providing every high school senior with a voter registration form with their diploma. 


  • 2002 Common Cause New York launches Youth Cause and Your Democracy youth civic education and engagement programs in New York City high schools. 


  • 2001 Common Cause New York Co-Chairs Citywide Coalition for Voter Participation with New York Public Interest Research Group. 


  • 2000 Common Cause New York launches “Connect the Dots” money in politics research program. 


  •  1999 Common Cause New York aids in the passage of lobby reform for New York State, expanding scope of New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying to include localities and giving it stronger enforcement powers.


  •  1998 New York City, urged on by Common Cause New York and others, improves New York City public financing by increasing citizen match to 4-to-1 and banning corporate contributions, making it the most progressive municipal system in the nation.


  •  1997 Common Cause New York pressure the Legislature to agree to computerize campaign contributions. This reform provides the public instant access to this data that we now take for granted and eliminated the previous archaic paper system, which made tracking the money stream to candidates almost impossible.


  • 1994 Common Cause New York lobbying helps persuade Legislature to publish its records and proceedings on the internet.


  •  1988 Common Cause New York works for the passage of the New York City Council Local Law 8, providing public financing of campaigns and establishing campaign spending limits, in the first city in the U.S. with a population of over 500,000.


  •  1987 Common Cause New York works for the landmark Ethics in Government Act, creating the State Ethics Commission. 


  •  1985 Levy Silver bill approved, after pressure by Common Cause New York, preventing candidates from converting campaign funds for personal use. 


  •  1983 Common Cause New York wins passage of financial disclosure law on groups working for/against ballot propositions. 


  •  1981 Common Cause New York lobbies to make the Committee on Public Access to Records the Committee on Open Government.


  •  1978 Filing amicus brief in successful litigation, Common Cause New York establishes that local governing board’s “working sessions” fall under the Open Meetings Law.


  •  1977 Common Cause New York helps to forge agreement between Assembly, Senate and Secretary of State Cuomo on new Lobby Registration and Disclosure Act extending disclosure requirements to executive branch.


  •  1976 Common Cause New York is prime mover in passage of New York’s Open Meeting Laws.


  •  1975 Under pressure from Common Cause New York, the State Assembly adopts substantial rules reforms to facilitate accountability.


  •  1974 Common Cause New York is instrumental in passing the Freedom of Information Laws (FOIL).