campaign finance reform

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A new poll finds New Yorkers don’t want legislators to gain a pay raise if they agree to ethics reforms by the end of the year.

The Siena College poll finds that 63 percent of New Yorkers oppose a pay raise for state lawmakers, who earn a base salary of nearly $80,000 a year for what is technically a part-time job. 

Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg says voters also say, even though they would like to see reform measures as well as other issue resolved, they still don’t think legislators should be allowed to trade agreements on these items for more pay.

It’s looking less and less likely that state senators and Assembly members will get a pay raise as a holiday present this year, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers still have a number of issues they need to resolve before the year ends, ranging from the siting of gambling casinos to how to close a Thruway deficit and whether to go ahead with hydrofracking.

Wallyg / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tamped down hopes for a special session of the legislature before the year ends, saying legislative leaders have still not agreed to ethics reforms that the governor is seeking. Cuomo says he also wants more time to develop a comprehensive criminal justice reform package.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO/file photo

With election season here, escaping the volley of political ads that are the hallmark of political campaigns will only get harder. In response, New York Democrat Charles Schumer is helping lead a fight in the Senate to force outside groups funding those ads to disclose their donors.

The Citizens United Supreme Court decision dismantled the campaign finance reform known as the McCain-Feingold Act. Wealthy donors, unions and corporations can now dump millions of dollars into political campaigns, seemingly in secret.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO News file photo

Democrats pressing for bills to reform the state’s campaign finance system say the U.S. Attorney’s investigations into a panel controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo might help spur action on their measures.

Democrats in the state Senate introduced a package of bills that they say would lessen special interest influences in politics and curb some on going abuses.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The state’s top accountant says a test public campaign finance plan that would apply only to his office is seriously flawed, and might even be unworkable. 

The budget provision, which first surfaced late Friday, would enact a pilot public campaign finance program limited to the comptroller’s office.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a long time supporter of public finance, says this plan comes too late in the election cycle, and relies on the State Board of Elections, a board widely viewed as incompetent, to set up the program.

Wallyg / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have finalized the details on a $138 billion state budget and say they are on track to meet the April 1 deadline.

The budget includes a multi-step plan that could  lower property taxes, $340 million for schools to start pre-K programs, and a limited test program for public campaign financing.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A new public campaign finance bill introduced in Congress is gaining support, including from Syracuse Rep. Dan Maffei.

Maffei, a Democrat, is among 130 co-sponsors of the Government by the People Act. It looks to amplify small campaign contributions from individuals.

Donations of up to $150 would be matched by a new federal fund. The match would be six times as much as the original, so a $100 donation would turn into $700. That’s if the candidate agrees to turn away money from political action groups, or PACs.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

In his State of the State speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again called for a reform package to address corruption in the legislature. Last year, bills to crack down on bribery and enact public campaign financing were never passed.  

The legislature failed in 2013 to act on any of the governor’s reform proposals, despite several arrests, indictments and imprisonment of lawmakers.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his annual State of the State speech Wednesday. Cuomo has already introduced some of his key agenda items, but there are still some surprises left.    

Cuomo has already released a plan to cut business taxes, the estate tax, and a multi-step process to freeze property taxes.

He also invited Vice President Joe Biden to the Capitol to help lay out his plans for better handling future weather disasters.

Zack Seward / WXXI

The new legislative session is just a few weeks away. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’ll still make anti-corruption measures a high priority as he did in 2013, but he’ll likely deal with economic issues, like proposed tax cuts, first.  

Cuomo tried unsuccessfully to get the legislature to enact reforms to the state’s dysfunctional campaign finance system. When they adjourned for the year back in June without acting he created an anti-corruption commission, using his powers under the state’s Moreland Act, and asked them to report recommendations before the end of the year.

One of the most controversial recommendations in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission report released this week is to enact public financing of campaigns for statewide elections.

The majority of the 25 Moreland Act commissioners say a public campaign finance system modeled on New York City’s matching donor system is the only way to curb the undue influence of big money donors in state government.

New York State Board of Elections officials received a verbal drubbing from commissioners on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission, during a lengthy hearing over their failure to pursue complaints about campaign violations during the past several years.

During intense questioning by the commissioners, Board of Elections officials admitted that they failed to follow up on hundreds of complaints and potential election law violations over the past several years. And when they did pursue a very small number of cases, they appeared to bungle the probes.  

e-MagineArt.com / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission held another hearing Monday focusing on reforming the state’s campaign finance system.

Common Cause says the Moreland Commission should open a probe to see if there’s a link between around $5 million spent by major pharmaceutical companies on lobbying and campaign donations to New York state politicians, and the failure to pass major consumer-friendly bills regulating Big Pharma.

An anti-corruption commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has deepened its investigations in recent days. The probes are intensifying as Cuomo comes increasingly under fire, accused of trying to control the panel and even suppress some subpoenas.

A corruption commission appointed by Cuomo has voted to send subpoenas to some key members of the legislature to find out more about their relationships with private law clients.

Cuomo appoints commission to probe the legislature

Jul 3, 2013

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has joined forces with the New York State Attorney General to create a commission with wide ranging powers to investigate corruption in the state legislature. This move follows a legislative session during which nearly three dozen state lawmakers have been indicted, arrested, or jailed.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick was named a co-chair of the commission, and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney will serve as a member of the panel.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he will be announcing his Moreland Act commission to investigate the campaign donation filings of the legislature in the “immediate future.”

Cuomo failed to get lawmakers to agree on a package of campaign finance reforms in the just-completed legislative session, and says he will now appoint a commission under the powers of the state’s Moreland Act, to investigate campaign filings at the State Board of Elections. The governor says in the end, it might even work out better.

Wallyg / via Flickr

State lawmakers were finishing up their session for the year, working to approve a measure to build four gambling casinos upstate and create tax free zones at college campuses.

But the final hours of the session were overshadowed by back and forth skirmishing over a Women’s Equality Act, which ultimately failed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, frustrated by what he says is the failure of the legislature to agree to a reform package, says he’ll follow through with a threat to investigate the legislature, using special powers given to him under the state’s Moreland Act. But there are potential limitations built into the act.

Cuomo says he did not want to compromise on a reform package that includes public campaign financing, and new prosecutorial powers for the state’s district attorneys to root out public corruption.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO

There were several arrests at the state Capitol Tuesday. Advocates took out their anger and frustration on the Cuomo administration and leaders of the state Senate, after it became clear that a progressive agenda that includes abortion rights and public campaign financing is likely dead for the legislative session.

Government reform groups are angry at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he is giving up too soon on an anti-corruption agenda that includes public financing of campaigns and greater prosecution powers for the state’s district attorneys.   
     

There’s three days left in the legislative session, and chances are dimming for a settlement on an abortion rights provision in a women’s equality act, and for reform of campaign financing and other anti-corruption measures. Meanwhile, a new poll finds the public increasingly dissatisfied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As the session winds down, it seems that two of the governor’s top agenda items are doomed in the state Senate.

It’s getting down to the wire for major pieces of legislation as the end of session approaches in Albany, including women’s rights and campaign finance reform. There are no agreements yet, but that’s not unusual in a government that operates on last-minute deals.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO File

As a recent poll shows his approval rating continuing to slide, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a trip through upstate New York Wednesday with a stop in Syracuse to push for his newly released campaign reform package.

With just over a week left in the legislative session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his bill to extend public financing of political campaigns to statewide races. But he still faces resistance from some factions in the legislature.

Cuomo’s talked of his support for a public campaign finance system for statewide races based on the New York City model, but this is the first time that he’s revealed the details of the actual legislation.

Karen DeWitt/WRVO

Hundreds gathered at the state Capitol to rally for public financing of political campaigns. The measure remains in limbo in the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces questions on whether he’s working hard enough for the proposal to pass.

They came in buses from all over New York to give state lawmakers their message -- big money is corrupting politics. They say the state should adopt New York City’s public campaign finance system, which allows candidates to match every dollar they collect in small donations with seven dollars of government funds.

The steady drumbeat of scandal after scandal in the New York State Legislature has led many to wonder whether lawmakers can focus on passing any major bills by the end of the session, which is fast approaching.

The legislature returns Wednesday and has just four work weeks to act on items ranging from campaign finance reform to abortion rights, to economic development plans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, before the legislature even returned from its Memorial Day break, gathered local government leaders from across the state to ask for help in passing a plan to create tax free zones for new businesses at college campuses.

A key member of the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference says the group does not foresee joining with the rest of the Democrats to overcome Republican resistance to a number of end-of-session issues, including public financing of campaigns.
 

In the wake of a series of political corruption cases out of Albany in recent weeks, campaign finance reform has become a popular issue in the state capitol.  Among the proposals for reforming the way money is used in political campaigns, is one from the Independent Democratic Conference. The group is wrapping up a set of statewide hearings on their plan today in Albany.

Republicans in the New York State Senate plan to hold hearings Tuesday, May 7, on what they say are abuses in New York City’s public campaign finance system. 

Anti-corruption is the dominant topic at the New York state legislature for the second week in a row, following bribery charges against two state lawmakers, including a former Senate leader. A new poll finds 81 percent of voters expect more Senators and Assembly members will be arrested.

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