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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Klein could hold key to campaign finance reform

By Adam Wisnieksi
Posted

 

Will this be the year the state reforms its campaign finance law? If Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s track record is any indication, it will be achieved. But the legislation has to get past one major hurdle: the State Senate. 

Good government groups, including some constituents in favor of campaign finance reform, are focusing their attention on co-majority leader state Sen. Jeff Klein, to get Mr. Cuomo’s proposals passed.

During his lengthy state of the state address in early January, Mr. Cuomo spoke briefly about campaign finance reform, only hinting at the proposals outlined in the 312-page book accompanying his speech. 

Among the changes he outlined is a requirement for campaign committees to disclose any contributions of more than $500 within 48 hours, or within 24 hours as Election Day draws closer. He also called for making ballots more readable, lowering contribution limits, instituting early voting and for a new enforcement unit to crack down on infractions, as well as for public financing of campaigns and closing loopholes that allow companies to exceed contribution limits by giving from a variety of LLCs. 

Even the Cliffs Notes version above is enough to put the most politically savvy constituent to sleep. But Mr. Cuomo’s aggressive proposal would completely transform the way elections are run in New York. 

“The problem is not just that elections are too expensive; the problem is that average New Yorkers are not the main source of campaign funds and thus have a limited voice in our elections,” reads Mr. Cuomo’s State of the State book.

Immediately after he announced the plan, good government groups jumped for joy, releasing statements of support. Now, they’re urging Mr. Klein to act.

“We’re looking for Sen. Klein to step forward and take the lead on this as he has with minimum wage,” Stephen Pampinella of Fair Elections for New York said.

For some constituents who have been wary of the coalition Mr. Klein and his Independent Democratic Conference formed with Republicans to rule the Senate, this legislation could help them determine where Mr. Klein’s loyalty lies. 

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