Bill aims to fix ‘pay-to-play’ contracts

From the LI Herald:

Lisa Tyson, the Long Island Progressive Coalition’s director, has suggested a number of reforms to limit campaign contributions to elected leaders from companies that do business with the government.

“Elected officials are listening to corporations more than their own constituents, and that needs to change,” Tyson said. “But is that going to happen anytime soon? We don’t know. We would like it to. And that’s why we need statewide publicly financed elections.”

Jeffrey Friedman of Rockville Centre, a Long Island Progressive Coalition board member, spoke at the June 4 rally outside the County Legislature in Mineola about the importance of campaign finance reform to fix what he called “broken” government.

“This is a no-brainer … Seventy-four percent of New Yorkers support campaign finance reform,” Friedman said. “The governor supports campaign finance reform. The Assembly not only supports campaign finance reform, it’s already passed campaign finance reform. The majority of the New York State Senate even supports campaign finance reform, and yet it’s still not being brought onto the floor. It’s typical politics as usual.”

Friedman and Tyson called on the State Senate to pass the 2013 Fair Elections Act, a bill the Assembly passed on May 7 that would establish optional public financing for statewide elections, create a new state enforcement board for campaign finance laws and regulations, and strengthen financial disclosure requirements for third parties that electioneer in New York.

Assemblyman David McDonough, a Republican whose district includes most of Merrick, voted against the bill, according to the Assembly’s website. Assembly Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, a Democrat whose district includes a small part of south Merrick, voted for the bill.

State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., a Republican from Merrick, said he opposes the Fair Elections Act. “Calling this legislation the Fair Elections Act is misleading,” he said. “The only thing this legislation would ensure is that public tax dollars are used to pay for candidates’ political campaigns. Under this legislation, taxpayers could be forced to spend nearly $300 million in 2014 alone to pay for advertising, commercials, mailings, handouts, posters and other campaign expenditures.”