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Fighting for Fair Elections and Public Campaign Financing

New York badly needs to combat the influence that big-money interests exert on State government – and I’m fighting to change the system.

I’m working with good-government organizations, progressive activists, and other legislators to enact public funding to match small-donor campaign contributions, plus other reforms, now as part of the State budget.

A candidate doesn’t have to out-spend an opponent to win. You need a winning message and enough money to get your message out to the voters. Small donor matching can make that possible.

This is not a new cause for me – I wrote New York’s first bill on public campaign financing. That bill, modified over the years, has passed the Assembly many times. It served as a model for New York City’s very successful public campaign finance system. It’s a goal we can finally achieve this year, now that the State Senate is ready to be a willing partner in passing meaningful campaign finance reforms.

Under our current laws, large, well-heeled donors can have an outsized impact on elections. Campaign contribution limits in New York allow a single donor to contribute up to $22,600 to a statewide primary campaign and $47,100 to a general election bid. That’s a total of almost $70,000 for a single candidate!

A report by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice earlier this year showed that deep-pocketed donors dominated New York’s 2018 State elections, with the top 100 donors contributing more in campaign donations than all the estimated 137,000 small donors combined. Smaller donations were only 5% of all the money donated to candidates for New York State offices last year.

Earlier this year, the new Senate majority helped us enact the bill closing the “LLC loophole” that allowed real estate and other interests to get around our campaign finance laws. Along with demanding greater transparency about the source of campaign funding, New York State needs to create and implement a small-donor matching system for elections for State offices. By matching small donations with public funding, we can strengthen the voices of all New Yorkers, not just the wealthy few.

It’s the best way to level the playing field in New York politics. And it’s a change we can make now!