Bigwig donors push Cuomo on campaign finance reform
As news from Albany seems to involve little other than corruption and scandal, campaign finance reform advocates are putting pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York Times reported.
These advocates, 140 major political donors, including 50 fundraisers for Obama, want Cuomo to change state election laws to include public financing.
This proposal has some support from Democrats, but virtually none from Republicans.
In a letter to the governor, the donors expressed hope that a change in campaign finance laws in New York, with its “national prominence,” could have a larger impact nationally by sending “a strong message to Washington, D.C., that real change is possible.”
They referenced the recent Supreme Court case, Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, in which the nation’s highest court ruled that political donations by corporations are protected by the First Amendment, and should be unregulated to the same degree as those by individual citizens.
“We write to strongly encourage your continued active leadership in transforming New York State’s broken campaign finance system into a national model in the post-Citizens United era,” the donors said, emphasizing their “firsthand understanding of the country’s current money and politics law.”
“We believe dramatic change is needed so that our proud democracy lives up to the values of being ‘of, by, and for the people,’” the letter continued.
Cuomo has repeatedly called public financing “essential” and promised to push for change to the state’s campaign financing laws, but he has also noted the opposition that such measures will face from the state’s Republicans, who share control of the state Senate.
Donors are concerned that with only a month left in the legislative session, the governor will give up on the issue.
But David Magleby, a political scientist at Brigham Young University who is writing a book about donors, told the Times it’s in the governor’s interest, given his grander political aspirations, to pay attention to these letter-writers.
“These are the kinds of people that a Cuomo candidacy for president will need,” Magleby said. “They’re influencing Cuomo to go full-speed ahead on reforms at the state level, while knowing full well that he likely has national ambitions, and therefore he will be back to them should a set of circumstances arise where he is going to seek the nomination.”
The donors who wrote the letter include billionaire George Soros, “When Harry Met Sally” director Rob Reiner, and Robert McKay, the heir to the Taco Bell fortune.
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat