New York State Board of Elections

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A reform group is taking a new approach to trying to close a loophole in the state’s campaign finance laws, as years long attempts to crack down on what’s known as “dark money” donations have failed.

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The New York State Board of Elections approved the language for a ballot amendment that would change the way redistricting is done in New York. But not everyone is happy with the wording, or the amendment.

The November ballot amendment would permit the Senate and the Assembly to appoint members to what the amendment describes as an “independent” commission to redraw legislative district lines every ten years, as required by the census.

The recently enacted state budget also marks the end of a commission that was investigating corruption in the legislature. Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to dismantle the Moreland Act panel as part of a deal on ethics reform.

Reform groups are focusing attention on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission’s recommendations to beef up the anemic state Board of Elections, but say they have not given up hope of public campaign financing for state wide races.

The reform groups say the state Board of Elections in its present form is useless and incompetent when it comes to enforcing campaign violations, and needs to be replaced.

Blair Horner is with the New York Public Interest Research Group.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission issued a scathing report Monday evening that criticizes what the commission says is Albany’s culture of corruption and recommends numerous reforms.

The Moreland Act Commissioners describe their report as a blueprint to fix what they say is the pervasive dysfunction in Albany.

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.  

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A state Supreme Court judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the wording of a November ballot amendment to expand gambling in New York. Opponents say they will appeal.

Judge Richard Platkin rejected a challenge from a Brooklyn attorney who said the wording of the November ballot amendment, to allow up to seven new gambling casinos in New York, is biased.

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A state Supreme Court judge heard arguments Friday in regards to whether the state Board of Elections should change the wording of a casino gambling amendment that critics say improperly advocates for the measure’s passage.

The push for passage of a ballot amendment to allow up to seven new gambling casinos in New York has begun. A coalition of business leaders, labor unions, and local elected officials are holding press conferences across the state. They expect to run some TV ads, as well.

The name of the coalition says nothing about gambling casinos -- instead it’s called New York Jobs Now. Business Council President Heather Briccetti said the new resort-style casinos proposed will bring employment to economically depressed areas.

The second hearing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission, which is targeting corruption in the legislature, will be held Tuesday evening in Albany. Government reform groups are scheduled to testify, and some say the commission should be looking at some of the campaign contributions to the governor himself.

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.

Anti-corruption proposals are proliferating in Albany, following two high-profile bribery scandals. Some of them focus on the long-neglected New York State Board of Elections, which hasn’t even had an investigator on staff in over a year.