citizens united

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes legislation signed last week meant to tighten campaign finance rules is a step towards fighting the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, which has allowed political spending by groups like corporations and unions to grow dramatically. The new legislation includes restrictions on independent group expenditures, which Cuomo says cuts to the core of who’s giving money to what candidate.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

An ethics reform measure approved by the New York State Legislature at the end of the legislative session still hasn’t been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And some good-government groups say it shouldn’t.

During a year where both former leaders of the legislature were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for corruption after they abused their sources of outside income, Cuomo said he would seek to strictly limit lawmakers’ ability to earn extra pay.

-JvL- / Flickr

What began in January as an ambitious reform package to address a wave of corruption at the Capitol, proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, dwindled to just two proposals by the time the session closed in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning. Cuomo had proposed a number of changes in January to react to a wave of corruption that led to the convictions of the two former leader of the legislature on felony corruption charges.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a crackdown on the coordination of candidates for office and super PACs that are created to support their campaigns.

The super PACs, or independent expenditures, are permitted under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Cuomo says while the ruling cannot be overturned right away without changes to the court, New York can act to make sure that super PACs really are independent. He says the groups have “become a mockery” and are used as a backdoor way around the state’s contribution limits.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

2015 saw the fall of two of the three most powerful people in state government, and the rise of one U.S. Attorney. 

Less than a year ago, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Leader Dean Skelos led the legislature. They were both at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech on January 21, sitting on stage, where Cuomo acknowledged his partners in the government triumvirate.

“To a good year, Dean,” Cuomo said to applause from the assembled lawmakers and lobbyists in the cavernous auditorium. “It’s a pleasure to be with you, Mr. Speaker.”

New York State Senate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to say that he will propose major reforms in the new year in the wake of the conviction of the two top legislative leaders on multiple corruption charges. But, the governor, in a radio interview, said there’s only so far that he can go to reign in campaign donations.

Berkeley Political Scientist Wendy Brown offers an interesting spin on the Citizens United case—the problem is not that corporations are seen as people; it’s that people are only seen as political entrepreneurs, and not citizens. And that move reflects a bigger problem she has written a book about—the shift in much of our thinking toward a market mentality.  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher has a substantive conversation about a supposedly encroaching neoliberalism with Brown, the author of Undoing the Demos.

One of the fallouts of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has been the emergence of several groups dedicated to amending the Constitution, in order to reverse the case and limit the role of money in politics.  A leader among them has been the group Move to Amend.  On this week’s edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with the group’s national spokesperson, David Cobb.  Cobb was also the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2004.

Four years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money on politics, a central New York group is calling on New York state to stand up to the ruling.

Members of Move to Amend are lobbying state officials to pass a resolution opposing the Citizens United case. Michael Messina-Yauchzy says a constitutional amendment is the ultimate solution.

"Corporations need to be limited," he said Tuesday. "It’s 'we the people,' the corporations need to be controlled by the people. We establish the legal framework."