For Immediate Release:
September 27, 2013
Susan Lerner: (212) 691-6421
Common Cause/NY Calls on Mayoral Candidates to Sign the "People's Pledge"
Put voters first and reduce special interest money in politics
In response to unprecedented spending in the city election cycle by outside, third party special interests through independent expenditures, Common Cause/NY today called on the leading candidates for Mayor to enter into a "People's Pledge" to reduce money in politics. The proposed pledge is based of the model used in the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race in which Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren reached a bi-partisan agreement to forfeit 50% of the cost of any advertisement paid for by a third party interest on behalf of their opponent to a charity of the other's choosing. The pledge was successful and only 9% of total spending in the race came from outside groups, and less than 40% of the advertising in it was negative, compared with 80% in races that didn't have the pledge, according to research by Common Cause/MA. The pledge both amplified the voice of ordinary citizens and improved transparency in political advertising.
"The health of our democracy depends on candidates being able to communicate clearly about the issues that matter to voters. Outsize spending by independent expenditures unfairly colors the campaign process by dominating the conversation from the point of view of a particular interest. Common Cause/NY calls on the leading candidates for Mayor, Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota, to sign a "People's Pledge" and put the voice of the voters first," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
Due to the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, outside special interests are spending big to influence elections in New York City by forming political action committees to sponsor independent expenditures on behalf of their preferred candidates. In the recent primary election, the REBNY backed PAC, Jobs for New York, spent over $ 5 million on over twenty City Council races, with money raised from just 22 individuals through 116 limited-liability corporations - a backhanded way to get around the city's campaign finance laws, some of the strongest in the nation, which are intended to keep contributions and spending in check. Similarly, NYC Is Not for Sale, a group dedicated to the election of "Anybody But Quinn," spent nearly a million dollars on TV advertising smearing Council Speaker Christine Quinn while her opponents offered little more than helpless shrugs.
The influx of spending is expected to continue into the general election for Mayor with the newly formed New Yorkers for Progress suing the city to lift the annual individual contribution limits currently capped at $150,000.
People's Pledge Letter to NYC Mayoy Candidates
The People's Pledge
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.