Fair Elections for New York, Common Cause, NY LEAD & Brennan Center for Justice Call for New York State to Enact Campaign Finance Reform

For Immediate Release:


April 3, 2013

Susan Lerner, CC/NY, 212-691-6421

Fair Elections NY, Morgan Hook, 301-801-6949

Brennan Center, Erik Opsal, 646-292-8356

Fair Elections for New York, Common Cause, NY LEAD & Brennan Center for Justice Call for New York State to Enact Campaign Finance Reform

Latest Scandal Another Example of Why New York Must Empower Voters with Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform

Fair Elections for New York, Common Cause, NY LEAD and the Brennan Center for Justice today once again called for comprehensive campaign finance reform with public financing at its core. With the most recent elections scandal, there is an urgent need to empower everyday New Yorkers to take back their democracy.

“The culture of pay to play in our politics puts principles for sale to the highest bidder, and discourages New Yorkers while breeding mistrust among the voters. That’s why we need a Fair Elections system of robust campaign finance reform, built around a core of small donor matching funds – to restore accountability to the voters, and give average people a place at the table. As part of the Fair Elections coalition, Common Cause/NY is committed to working with Governor Cuomo to empower the public and stem the outrageous influence of money on our political process,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

“Corruption scandals in New York are, unfortunately, nothing new. The number of state office holders who have been arrested in the last decade is itself a scandal,” said Lawrence Norden, a Deputy Director at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The question is what are we going to do about it? Albany must work for voters, not dollars. To increase New Yorkers’ confidence in their elected officials, legislative leaders need to move on small donor public financing and comprehensive reform as soon as they’re back in session.”

“New Yorkers don’t need any more reminders that our state desperately needs a bold solution to the problem of money in politics,” said Jessica Wisneski, Legislative Director for Citizen Action of New York. “This latest news only adds to the urgency for Albany to act. By passing comprehensive campaign finance reform, with publicly financed elections at it’s core, we’ll finally have a system where our government can be responsive to voters, instead of responsive to dollars.”

“The pay-to-play culture in Albany has taught some public officials that money is king. That’s not how a democracy should work,” said Bill Lipton, New York State Director of the Working Families Party. “Public financing of elections will help root out the corrupting influence of money in politics and make sure every voice is heard.”

Also speaking was NY LEAD member Richard J. Davis, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who worked in the Watergate Special Prosecutor’s office, and a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who helped craft the Iran-U.S. Hostage Release Agreement. He is currently a member of the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

“New Yorkers will undoubtedly react to this scandal with anger and disgust, as they should,” said NY LEAD member Peter Zimroth, a partner at Arnold & Porter who served as the New York City’s corporation counsel from 1987 to 1989. “But the danger is that only reinforces cynicism about the political process. We have an opportunity today to harness this anger and make important change. It happened in 1988 after a series of political scandals in the city. The mayor and the City Council passed landmark laws to give a voice to citizens without access to large sums of money. Now it must happen in Albany.”

For more information about the Fair Elections campaign, please visit www.fairelectionsny.org