Cuomo talks campaign finance, the Senate, fracking with New York State Public Radio

Dec 13, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will soon introduce legislation to regulate electioneering activities by some not-for-profits that have become increasingly influential players in funding political campaigns.

Cuomo says as part of a campaign finance reform bill that he intends to introduce soon, he will require that the not-for-profits, known to critics as “dark money groups,” disclose campaign contributions to politicians. Cuomo says his bill goes further than a plan by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, because the attorney general can only regulate the not-for-profits registered in New York state.

“You have all these national not-for-profits that aren’t registered in New York, but we were just watching their advertising during the presidential campaign,” Cuomo said. “I want them covered also.”

In an interview with New York state public radio, Cuomo stopped short of drawing a line in the sand over the issue of public campaign financing, something many advocates have called for.  The governor says called it “very, very important,” but did not specifically say that it would be a make-or-break issue in negotiations with the legislature.

“I very much would like to have the state of New York be the progressive leader when it comes to campaign finance reform,” said Cuomo. “That’s going to be our goal.”

Cuomo also says he wants backing from the state Senate on a number of issues he’s dubbed his “litmus test,” including raising the minimum wage and reforming New York City’s stop and frisk policies, as well as campaign finance reform.  

Cuomo maintains he is not getting involved in the state Senate’s internal power struggle -- which has led to a newly formed governing coalition of  30 Republicans and five break-away Democrats.  Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos said this week he can’t guarantee right now that any specific bills will come to the floor. Cuomo says if it turns out that the Senate does not ultimately act on his list of priorities,  “that will be an issue.”

“I was elected by the people of this state with a specific agenda, “Cuomo said. “ I expected it to be acted on.” The governor says he also expects a “functioning” Senate.

“And I expect support,” the governor said. Cuomo says if he doesn’t get that support, he’ll take his case to the people.

In response, Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said in a statement,"If Senate Republicans have proven anything over the last two years, it's that we can successfully work with Governor Cuomo to pass an agenda that benefits all New Yorkers.  The people want Democrats and Republicans to work together to get results, and we're going to keep getting the job done for them in the next legislative session."

The governor also ruled out a pay raise for legislators, saying “that’s not going to happen this year,” saying it would not be appropriate in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

And the governor offered the first clues on what’s in the health study on hydrofracking that is currently being reviewed by his health commissioner and three outside experts.

“They’re looking at the experiences of other states in the country where this has been done, reports of possible health consequences,” said Cuomo. “They will then help us make a determination whether there’s a true health risk or not.”

The governor says he believes when his environmental agency finishes the current 90-day extension of a rule making process, than the more than four year review of the gas drilling process will finally be finished.