In April, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced the “2012 Fair Elections Act” (A09885D) to provide public financing for statewide campaigns. This act was just what the League of Women Voters of New York State (LWVNY) needed to begin a new push for campaign finance reform in New York. LWVNY immediately took two actions. First, it joined with a diverse group of business, community, good government, faith, and labor organizations to execute a coordinated campaign called Fair Elections for New York (http://www.fairelectionsny.org /). Second, it joined with Citizens Union of New York City and the New York Public Interest Research Group to issue a statement about the 2012 Fair Elections Act and offer suggestions for improving it.
Upon joining the Fair Elections campaign, Barbara Bartoletti, Legislative Director for LWVNY, said, “The League is optimistic that New York’s scandalously lax campaign finance laws might finally be transformed and accompanied by a public financing system that will counter the influence of big money in politics. We believe that real campaign finance reform should accompany public funding with effective enforcement, lower contribution limits, pay-to-play limitations and robust disclosure. We encourage the Legislature to pass the entire package of needed reforms this session.”
Despite the concerted efforts of LWVNY and its partners, the Assembly failed to vote on the 2012 Fair Elections Act before the legislative session ended in July.
LWVNY’s push for campaign finance reform continues. The state League received a small grant to develop materials to be used in community forums about campaign finance reform. Carol Mellor, LWVNYS board member, is creating a slide presentation and background paper to educate the public about New York’s current campaign finance system as well problems with the current system and reforms to remedy them. LWVBN will likely share the presentation with Western New York citizens in January.