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election laW: advocacy for campaign finance reform

campaign finance reform

campaign finance reform: Summary of Current Action

In 2008, the League drafted the “Campaign finance reform, enforcement, transparency, and accountability Act of 2008.” This act strived to improve disclosure, enforcement and transparency. It also attempted to lower campaign contribution limits. Unfortunately, it failed to garner support in either house.

In 2010 both houses passed ethics reform legislation that included campaign finance reform. While there were some concerns with this legislation, it represented a welcomed and needed improvement over the status quo. In February 2010, Governor Patterson vetoed the bill, stating it failed to go far enough. The league lobbied the legislature to override the veto. This legislation included critical changes to campaign finance enforcement by strengthening the independence of the State Board of Elections, and by requiring them to garner a majority vote in order to stop an investigation from proceeding. It also improved disclosure requirements by creating a mandatory uniform format electronic disclosure system and requiring disclosure by groups who expend or contribute independent of the candidate.

In 2011, the League joined with NYPIRG to support a bill which provided for public financing for the position of Comptroller. That bill passed the Assembly but was not passed by the Senate.

In 2012, Governor Cuomo included campaign finance reform as one of his goals in the State of the State Address. Thereafter, Assembly Speaker Silver introduced campaign finance legislation which included public financing. The League and its good government colleagues at NYPIRG and Citizen Union expressed some misgivings about this legislation because it created a two-tier system in which persons who participated in public financing would be subject to one set of rules administered by one regulatory body whereas those who did not participate would be governed by another set of rules, administered by a different regulatory body.

Also in 2012, acting in response to the actions of the Governor and the elevated interest in campaign finance law piqued by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, and the huge influx of money into the presidential and other campaigns fostered by that and other Supreme Court cases which permit unfettered contributions and expenditures for independent expenditures, LWVNYS developed a power point presentation, supplemented by background materials, for use by the local leagues in their attempts to foster active efforts by league members and others to encourage the passage of meaningful campaign finance reform. The League obtained a grant from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation to support this campaign. The program was presented in leagues throughout the state and before other civic organizations.

Throughout this time, the League continued to work with other good government groups in support of campaign finance reform. The lobbying focus has been on public financing of campaigns, real and independent campaign finance enforcement, and regulatory reforms. The League continues to advocate for both, believing that meaningful reform of the current laws is a necessary substrate to a successful public financing system. A beginning for these reforms is the campaign finance aspects of the 2010-vetoed Ethics Reform Act. Other focuses include:

  • Significantly decreasing sky-high campaign contribution limits that are among the highest in the country.
  • Eliminating soft money by limiting donations to “housekeeping accounts.”
  • Eliminating the transfers of campaign contributions. Currently, there is  no limit to the amount that parties and candidates can donate to other parties and candidates.
  • Banning campaign fundraising during the legislation session.
  • Limiting lobbyists involvement in campaign activities
  • Disclosure of employers and bundlers.
  • Banning personal use of campaign funds by candidates.
campaign finance reform: Recent Letters, Press Releases, Op Ed Pieces, and Press Coverage
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2010
2009
2008
campaign finance reform: Current Bills (To access current bills, click here and type in the bill number.
  • A04980/Silver; S04705/Stewart-Cousins (2013)
  • S04897/Klein
  • S04009/Adams
campaign finance reform: Testimony
2015
2014
2013
2010
2009
campaign finance reform: Memorandums
2017
2016
2015
2014
2010
2008
campaign finance reform: Written Materials (League)
  • Preserving Our Democracy: Campaign Finance Reform for New York State
    Program-ready materials for community forums to discuss the issue of campaign finance reform. Strong, well-enforced campaign finance regulations, along with a system of small donor matching grants, are a pathway to expanding voter participation, increasing more candidate diversity, and lessening the impact of special interests. Community forums presenting this League educational program analyzing the weaknesses of  current campaign finance regulation and  suggesting reform are being organized around the state during the next 4 months. (10/26/2012)
2012
2010
1991
campaign finance reform: Non-League Written Materials
2013
2010
  • Ethics, a PowerPoint Presentation prepared for Albany on the Record, Brennan Center For Justice, NYU School of Law, May, 2010.
2009
2006
campaign finance reform: archived materials

Contact the League Office to request archived materials.