NYS Campaign Finance Laws and Practices Exposed
July 25th, 2006

On July 20th, the Brennan Center released Paper Thin: The Flimsy Façade of Campaign Finance Laws in New York, a report on the apparent toothlessness of campaign finance laws in New York and abundance of loopholes.  The report highlights several flaws in state campaign finance law and makes recommendations to reform public financing, contribution limits, disclosure and enforcement. 

As the report mentions, reforms are especially needed when the Campaign Disclosure Project gave New York a C- in accessibility of campaign finance disclosure information and an F in the usability of that content. 

Though the state is failing, the municipal and federal campaign finance laws can offer guidance.  The city has a model campaign financing system, matching up to $250 of an individual’s contribution 4 to 1 for participating candidates, with additional funds for candidates facing wealthy, self-financed opponents. 

Over the course of primary and general elections, an individual donor in New York can give more money to a candidate running in the state legislature ($13,900) than one running for federal office ($4,200 ).  These lax limits in the state magnify the power of individual dollars, along with special interests and other contributors. 

Campaign finance reform is a perennial issue for Albany and good government advocates.  With the Legislature and Governor loathe to agree on specifics, both get to claim reform while actually passing little.  Perhaps this report and continued conversations will finally force consensus and genuine action.

By on July 25, 2006, 7:00 am
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