Upstate Senators Join Community, Labor, Faith Leaders to Demand Fair Elections Through Real Campaign Finance Reform

Timothy M. Kennedy

December 11, 2012

Progressive Leaders Say Reduced Contribution Limits, Public Financing, Stronger BOE Enforcement Remain Keys to Meaningful Campaign Finance Reform

BUFFALO, N.Y. - State Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, and State Senator-elect Ted O’Brien, D-Rochester, joined leaders from community and labor organizations Tuesday outside the Erie County Board of Elections to call on their colleagues in the State Senate to strongly pursue passage of Governor Cuomo’s Fair Elections campaign finance reform proposal.

As new developments are coming to light every day about what the State Legislature will look like come January, the lawmakers joined together to make it clear that real campaign finance reform – which includes publicly financed elections – must remain a top priority for the new legislative session.

The upstate Senators spoke just days after a new report was released by the Campaign Finance Institute, which shows that a matching funds system like what Governor Cuomo has proposed would cost no more than $2 per New Yorker per year.

The event was one in a series of events happening Tuesday. Other events took place in Albany, Binghamton, and Manhattan.

“When we finally pass real campaign finance reform, it will be another step forward in our fight to clean up Albany. I urge my colleagues to take action on this critical reform and help us enact it this year,” said Senator Tim Kennedy (D - Erie County). “There’s no question that campaign finance reform will combat the influence of money in politics and help restore New Yorkers’ faith and trust in their government. Fair elections will also spark a vast improvement in New York State’s low rates of voter participation. Reforming the campaign-finance system will empower New York voters to get further involved and make their voices heard in the electoral process. Our state needs a system with reduced donor limits, matched contributions and stronger enforcement from the Board of Elections.”

Having just fought a vigorous campaign, where out of state groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with no public oversight, I can personally attest to the need for campaign finance reform. Voters have a right to know what interest groups are trying to influence elections, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature and the Governor towards real campaign finance reform,” said Senator-elect Ted O’Brien (D – Monroe, Ontario Counties).

“Across New York, voters came out in support of candidates who made publicly financed Fair Elections a top issue in their campaigns,” said Gayla Thompson, a member of the Western New York board of Citizen Action of New York. “One thing about New York State politics is for sure – the voters want to be in charge of who represents them. That’ll only happen if we have a system of publicly financed Fair Elections to finally limit the influence of CEO campaign cash in our elections.”

“Working families will never catch a break if we keep allowing big money donors to buy elections,” said John Mudie, Executive Vice President of CWA Local 1122. “New Yorkers have made it clear that they’re tired of the corrupt politics of the past. It’s time to restore confidence in our democracy by enacting a system of publicly financed Fair Elections.”

Senator Kennedy welcomes Senator-elect O'Brien on his visit to Buffalo.