For Immediate Release Common Cause Analysis Reveals over 80% of Donations to Senators Robach and Alesi from Out-of-District

Written by 212-691-6421 on April 12, 2012


For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

April 12, 2012

212-691-6421

Common Cause Analysis Reveals over 80% of Donations to Senators Robach and Alesi from Out-of-District

Less than 2% from Lower Dollar Donors. Growing Grassroots Demand for Publicly-Financed Fair Elections System

Today residents and leaders in Rochester came together to call on Senators Robach and Alesi to fight for a system of publicly financed Fair Elections when they return to Albany on April 17th. Those gathered demanded that their leaders in Albany make Fair Elections the top priority issue for the remainder of this year's legislative session.

"The very foundation of our democracy, the concept of one person, one vote, is being washed away by the torrent of money from special interests and corporations being given to politicians running for elected office," said Paula Hansen, President of Metro Justice. "It is not a level playing field, it is a mountaintop with the very rich among us already at the top. Only a public financing system can clean up our elections and give a voice back to everyday people."

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 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.

New research revealed at the press conference, provided by Common Cause NY, illustrated the problem with the current campaign finance system. Both Senators Robach and Alesi received over 80% of their campaign donations from outside of their district. They also both received almost all of their donations through contributions over $200.

"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.

"Democracy is a religious value by which we honor the inherent worth of the individual," said Dick Gilbert, of the Interfaith Impact of New York State. "That value is undermined by a new interpretation of the Golden Rule: those who have the gold make the rules. We must move from the megaphone of big money to the great conversation of ordinary citizens."

"The Fair Elections campaign issue is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveling the playing field we call democracy," said Paul Schuh of the Working Families Party. "Citizens United has not only perpetuated a corrupt electoral process with no accountability to "We the People," but has lead to laws that are written by the large contributors in complete anonymity."

Senator Joe Robach (R-56)

Number of Contributions

Amount $

% of Total Dollars

Total Contributions 2005 - Jan 2012

1,929

$1,343,843.64

In-District

440

$226,950.04

16.9%

In NY State Out-of-District

1,185

$968,038.60

72.0%

Out of NY State

133

$122,650.00

9.1%

No Matched Address

171

$26,205.00

2.0%

Contributions Under $200

331

$27,937.00

2.1%

Contributions Under $5,000

34

$203,400.00

15.1%

Contributions from Corps/Orgs

1,445

$1,135,703.74

84.5%

Contributions from Individuals

421

$205,610.90

15.3%

Senator James Alesi (R-55)

Number of Contributions

Amount $

% of Total Dollars

Total Contributions through Jan 2012

2,093

$1,891,970.19

In-District

507

$350,239.57

18.5%

In NY State Out-of-District

1,271

$1,195,134.93

63.2%

Out of NY State

210

$306,408.37

16.2%

No Matched Address

105

$40,188.32

2.1%

Contributions Under $200

362

$31,612.05

1.7%

Contributions Under $5,000

59

$480,700.00

25.4%

Contributions from Corps/Orgs

1,343

$1,144,823.46

60.5%

Contributions from Individuals

749

$747,147.73

39.5%

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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