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Citizens Union

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The Senate elections committee will hold hearings on corruption in the New York City public campaign finance system at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Oral testimony is by invite-only, and it just so happens that a good number of campaign finance experts from New York are not welcome to speak.

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Bill Mahoney, New York Public Interest Research Group's number-cruncher extraordinare, just happens to be one of those campaign finance experts.

"Oral testimony is by invitation only," Mahoney said. "I suppose they are not interested in hearing from actual New Yorkers who have been effected by the system. They just want to hear people criticize a system that works better than ours."

Members of some of the state's largest government watchdog groups wrote the committe chairs — Sens. Thomas O'Mara and Diane Savino — to ask to be allowed to testify but they were not allowed to give oral testimony. The groups include Common Cause/NY, The Brennan Center, Citizen Action New York and Center For Working Families.

When asked about why good government groups were not allowed to give oral testimony, Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif replied:"I don't believe that is accurate. Dick Dadey, from Citizens Union, is on our confirmed speaker list."

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Senator Klein's decision is a huge gamble - for the IDC and for New Yorkers,"Karyn Scharff, executive director of Citizen Action NY, said in a statement. New Yorkers voted for a progressive agenda, and the IDC is putting that agenda at risk. If the Senate passes Governor Cuomo’s public funding of elections bill, an increase in the minimum wage, and fair funding for our schools, then I’ll give credit where credit is due. If they don’t, then this will be just another Albany coup. Citizen Action's members worked hard to elect Cecilia Tkaczyk and other progressive Democratic candidates because we want a Senate that will pass publicly financed Fair Elections, an increase in the minimum wage and a more progressive tax system to fund our schools. These are issues that Republicans have always blocked. Senator Klein and the rest of the IDC support that agenda, and say this coalition government will allow them to get it done. It’s now their responsibility to use their new found power to deliver these policies to the voters.