Bigwig donors push Cuomo on campaign finance reform

Governor Andrew Cuomo. Credit: Getty Images.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo feels the heat. Credit: Getty Images

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


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Comments

1

  1. As admirable as the efforts being made by the state of New York are, the rest of the country fails to realize that there’s not one legislative or public policy issue that campaign finance doesn’t touch on. Voters have yet to converge with one voice to demand fairness and accountability. This is a conversation worth having at the nationally.

    “By not demanding a limit to campaign contributions as a condition of electability, we’ve gradually allowed members of a small, elite establishment game the political process for their own advantage.”

    Already loads of cash are channeling towards Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president in 2016. As an individual voter you have no leverage with a candidate for public office–not unless you join other voters to demand campaign finance accountability. Your chance to be heard and have a place at the table is here.

    To join the conversation please click at the following link:
    http://pac.petitions.moveon.org/sign/hillary-in-16-pac-political