Insurgent candidates for state offices yesterday challenged the incumbents they are challenging to step to the plate and enact their own set of campaign finance reforms if the New York State Public Campaign Financing Commission‘s recommendations result in what they see as weak public financing policy.
The Commission will submit its recommendations at the end of the month and the state legislature has until December 22 to “amend or abrogate” the Commission’s recommendations. The insurgents, in particular, have taken umbrage at the commission’s continued focus on fusion voting and the weakening of third parties such as the Working Families Party.
“The Public Campaign Financing Commission is showing New Yorkers all that is wrong with Albany. New York’s sitting elected officials, including Assemblymember [Erik] Dilan and legislative leadership, say they support public financing for New York State, yet they shirked their responsibility off to an unelected commission and are staying silent as that commission heads towards a weak result. It’s pure hypocrisy and an utter disgrace,” said Boris Santos, who is challenging Assemblymember Erik Dilan (D-Bushwick, Cypress Hills, East New York, Ocean Hill, Brownsville) in next year’s Democratic Primary.
“As a former Senate staffer, I can say firsthand that legalized bribery in Albany is alive and well and it impacts almost every issue New Yorkers care about from affordable housing to funding our schools. We need leaders who won’t just talk the talk when it comes to fixing New York’s joke of a campaign finance system but will also walk the walk. We’re here today to send a strong message that if the Legislature fails to deliver strong campaign finance reform this year, we won’t let them forget it,” he added.
Democratic District Leader Josue “Josh” Pierre, who is challenging State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace), is also putting an emphasis on any campaign finance ref0rm to include a public financing match formula on all small money donations and not just in-district small money donations.
“Creating an effective small donor matching system and getting special interest money out of politics is simple. Just match all small contributions up to a set amount. All the other proposals the commission is considering, including attacking fusion, are about preventing real reform. It’s time for legislators to say they won’t accept fake reform designed to look good, but change nothing. Kevin Parker in particular has refused to support campaign finance reform because he wants to continue to depend on special interest money,” said Pierre.
“As a life-long resident of Fort Greene-Clinton Hill, I’ve seen our communities displaced from the damaging influence of private real estate and corporate interest money. We need to establish a small donor matching system that empowers our communities, emboldens our voices, and gives everyday New Yorkers a pathway to run for office. I’m proud to make public financing a priority in my campaign and have pledged not to accept any real estate developer or private corporate PAC money,” said Jason Salmon, candidate for State Senate District 25, in a seat that Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope) currently holds.
“New Yorkers deserve a commitment to public financing and this legislature has the obligation to remove the barriers to political participation. We must stop the dependency on money from real estate and other special interest groups, which is blocking legislation that impacts everyday New Yorkers. June saw the passage of historic rent laws but it was bittersweet victory. The legislature failed to protect all tenants by not passing the Good Cause bill. We feel the effects of legislation handed down from Albany deeply and personally. The actions and inactions of out-of-touch lawmakers directly impact our families and communities for generations,” said Marcela Mitaynes, who is challenging Assemblymember Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) in the 51st Assembly District.
“The Public Campaign Financing Commission is a shameful example of the Democratic hypocrisy that is occurring in Albany,” says Phara Souffrant Forrest, a nurse, tenant organizer, who is challenging Assemblymember Walter Mosley (D-Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) in the 57th Assembly District. “As a black working class woman, I had hopes that the Commissions was going to create paths for people like me to get into state legislature and take profit interest out of Albany. But instead, The Commission being used and manipulated by our governor, Senate and Assembly leadership to benefit their need to maintain the status quo. I stand up for the public financing of campaigns and urge my Assemblyman to put all his efforts and political clout to push for more accountable representation. If he’s not willing to do it, it’s time we replace him with someone who will.”