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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Klein could hold key to campaign finance reform

(Page 2 of 3)
By Adam Wisnieksi
Posted

Though Mr. Klein has said he is in favor of comprehensive campaign finance reform, he has not weighed in on Mr. Cuomo’s specific proposals. He did not agree to a request for an interview on the subject.

Amalgamated Housing Cooperative resident and longtime member of the Working Families Party David Mirtz, 47, said he’s been suspicious of the coalition but like many other liberals, he is waiting to see if Mr. Klein follows through on his pledge to pass progressive legislation.

“We’ll see in time how things develop and whether he’ll do the right thing,” Mr. Mirtz said.

An interesting footnote is that both the man who proposed the new rules and the man it may hinge on have benefited from the old set of standards. 

Mr. Cuomo’s campaign has taken advantage of many loopholes he now wants to close, as was recently documented on The New York Times’ editorial page. Mr. Klein’s campaign has also been aided by the fact that state law allows corporate subsidiaries to be counted as separate donors.

On a single day in December 2009, four LLCs owned by well-known affordable housing developer Peter Fine donated a combined $34,000 to Mr. Klein’s campaign. Even though that total figure is above the amount a corporation is allowed to give to a state Senate campaign, each individual contribution was at or near the contribution limit for that election cycle, and so those gifts did not break any rules. When asked about this arrangement last year, Mr. Klein said he had been operating within the law and would continue to follow the new rules if any came to pass. 

Clearly, changing campaign finance is on top of Mr. Cuomo’s agenda, but getting the required legislative support may require some creativity in terms of how to fund public financing.

Among Mr. Cuomo’s proposals, the idea of funding campaigns with public dollars is not a big hit with Republicans. Mr. Cuomo models his proposal on the city’s matching funds program, which he said in many respects, “provides the ideal model for statewide reform.”

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