The New York Times reports that Governor Cuomo is seeking to add a “new independent office to enforce state election law as a response to the latest corruption charges. The governor also proposed allowing voters and candidates to switch their party enrollment closer to the date of an election and allowing candidates to run in another party’s primary without seeking permission from party leaders.
Ken Lovett of The New York Daily News outlines how last week Governor Cuomo called for a stronger Board of Elections but that the new state budget does not provide any funding for the board to hire investigators. A source in the the Cuomo administration acknowledged that “the structure of the board of elections and other problems have led to insufficient enforcement for many years” and that “reform in this area is among those being considered.”
Today a group of union-backed organizations put out a release calling for campaign finance reform. They make the claim that multinational corporations spent $670,000 on New York campaigns. The following is taken from their release.
“Today, organizations supporting publicly financed Fair Elections released new campaign finance research showing that multinational corporations, which have taken advantage of offshore tax havens to hide income costing New York at least $2.4 billion in tax revenue, made more than $670,000 in campaign contributions to state legislative candidates in the last election cycle.
The groups argued that allowing companies to buy tax breaks with campaign contributions is yet another reason why New York must pass publicly financed Fair Elections. Because of the influence of money in politics, New Yorkers lose billions in tax revenue that could be used fund education, health care, and other services that working families rely on. With elected officials who are beholden to their constituents instead of their CEO campaign contributors, it’s likely that New York will save billions.”
The Business Council has not developed a specific, comprehensive position on campaign finance reforms. However, we do believe that any reform requires equal treatment.
We see a number of campaign finance reforms as deeply self-serving, including proposals that tilt the law to the advantage of organized labor and the disadvantage of business. New York State campaign financing law is already lopsided, with corporations subject to a $5,000 annual limitation in total “hard” campaign contributions, whereas unions are subject to no such aggregate limits and are limited only by the individual candidate or committee’s limit which can be as high as $102,300. Likewise, by statute, union dues – from which most of union PAC funds are derived – can be withheld from workers’ paychecks, but voluntary withholdings to support employee PACs are categorically prohibited; a prohibition we have not found in most other states.
The information that these groups have shared with us today, makes no mention of labor unions and the advantages they enjoy today, the money they and their members contribute or how a fair playing field can be achieved. Any proposal needs to be subject to careful evaluation of both the direct and intended impacts, and unintended consequences, with a special focus on whether we are making real improvements.
The cost to elect a congressional representative in New York state’s newly formed 27th district surpassed $10 million over the past two years.
A review of federal campaign finance reports by Gannett found that Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, a Chris Collins, a Republican who captured the seat in November, spent $10.5 million. That was one of three congressional races across the state that ended with more than $10 million in spending.
The report, found here via the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, showed that Hochul spent $4.8 million to first win the seat in a special election and then to try and maintain the seat last fall. Collins spent $1.42 million in his campaign. In addition, outside sources, including political groups, shelled out $4.48 million on the candidates.