For Immediate Release Common Cause Analysis Reveals McDonald & Canestrari Took in over 85% of Campaign Cash from Outside Donors

Written by 212-691-6421 on April 10, 2012

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

April 10, 2012


Common Cause Analysis Reveals McDonald & Canestrari Took in over 85% of Campaign Cash from Outside Donors

Less than 3% from Lower Dollar Donors. Troy Residents and Grassroots Leaders Demand Publicly-Financed Fair Elections System

Today residents and leaders in Troy came together to call on Senator McDonald and Assemblymember Canestrari to fight for a system of publicly financed Fair Elections when they return to Albany on April 17th. Those gathered demanded that their elected state representatives make Fair Elections the top priority issue for the remainder of this year's legislative session.

"Our system of elections in New York is broken because candidates need to constantly dial for dollars to run their campaigns, making those of us who can't write huge checks second-class citizens," said Ivette Alfonso, President of Citizen Action of New York. "With Fair Elections, candidates will be more accountable to us, not CEO campaign contributors, because they'll be able to run competitive campaigns by raising small contributions from our community. Fair Elections will make sure that our representatives fight for our priorities."

New research revealed at the press conference, provided by Common Cause NY, illustrated the problem with the current campaign finance system. Both Senator McDonald and Assemblymember Canestrari raised over 85% of their campaign cash from outside of their district, and both received almost all of their donations through contributions over $200. Senator McDonald and Assemblymember Canestrari also both received less than 2% of their campaign dollars from individuals and businesses located in the City of Troy.

"We need Fair Elections so that our elected officials are accountable to the people who put them in office, not the special interests which fund their campaigns. Our current system undermines the very essence of democracy and advantages big money donors over the needs of average voters. Public policy shouldn't be set by the highest bidder," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause NY.

As the public continues to bear the brunt of pain after budget cuts to services, schools, and safety net programs, community leaders came together to demand that our elected leaders in the State Senate and Assembly ensure the priorities of the Capital Region are met by passing Fair Elections. A Fair Elections system would allow the priorities of constituents to matter more, because big campaign contributions would matter less. Fair Elections is proven to increase small donor participation in elections, boosting civic engagement and strengthening democracy.

Nina Nichols, Pastor of Christ Church United Methodist and President Pro-Tempore of the Troy City Council said, "The poverty, hunger and homelessness that exists in Troy isn't unique to our community. And the lack of resources and investment isn't either. Across New York State, CEO campaign contributors are making sure our elected officials are hearing their needs, at the expense of our needs. Because of our election system, their voices are louder and clearer than ours can possibly be. Fair Elections would help make our communities stronger because those who we elect would be accountable to us. We'd be sure they're fighting for our priorities first, not the priorities of those who are able to write the biggest checks."

"For our democracy to work the way it's supposed to, all communities, including communities of color, need an equal voice. But our current election system shuts too many of us out," said Rev. Willie Bacote of The Missing Link Street Ministry. "Our neighbors are suffering from violence and poverty, but the legislators who we elected, and who are supposed to serve us, focus all their time and energy fundraising. With Fair Elections, our priorities will be shared by our elected officials because candidates will be able to run for office without relying on CEO campaign contributors."

Senator Roy McDonald (R-43)

# of Contributions

Amount $

% of Total Dollars

Total Contributions through Jan 2012







In NY State Out-of-District




Out of NY State




No Matched Address




Contributions Under $200




Contributions Over $5,000




Contributions from Corps/Orgs




Contributions from Individuals




Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari (D-106)

# of Contributions

Amount $

% of Total Dollars

Total Contributions 2005 -- Jan 2012







In NY State Out-of-District




Out of NY State




No Matched Address




Contributions Under $200




Contributions Over $1,500




Contributions from Corps/Orgs




Contributions from Individuals




Office: Common Cause New York

Common Cause is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.

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