In as shameless an incumbent-protection racket as ever you’ll see, the Legislature’s Democratic supermajorities are belatedly “fixing” their own campaign reform law to boost the “ins” at the expense of the “outs.”
In the final days of the session, the Senate and Assembly Election Law committee chairs introduced last-minute fiddles to the state’s public-campaign-funding law that will kick in for next year’s elections.
The new bill removes the $250 cap on donations that the taxpayers will match, so that the first $250 of a donation of any size (up to the maximum legal contribution) gets matched.
That reduces the incentive for candidates to rely on small donors.
The bill also substantially ups the number of in-district donors and the threshold amount needed to qualify for matching funds — both changes that will shut out many challengers from the access to public funds that’s supposed to level the playing field.
All of which turns the whole reform into a naked system for pouring taxpayer cash into the campaigns of people who already hold office.
State lawmakers piously claimed when creating the public-matching fund system that it would reduce the influence of big-money donors and special interests in state elections by raising the importance of small-dollar donations.
That was the bait; now comes the switch.
We’re no fans of public funding of campaigns, but even supporters are outraged.
“This shameful bill inflicts huge damage on New York’s historic small donor matching law and is completely counter to the law’s goal of giving the average New Yorker a stronger voice in our democracy,” blasted good-government watchdog Reinvent Albany.
Citizens’ Union Executive Director Betsy Gotbaum called the 11th-hour, stealthy measure “anti-democratic” for similar reasons.
Suckers: An April 2018 Siena poll found that nearly two-thirds of voters opposed public funding of state elections when told it would cost an estimated $100 million every two years.
The reformers should have listened to voters: The Democrats who completely control New York state government have no interest in fairness, good government or bolstering democracy.
All they want is to retain and extend their own power and perks, period.
The Empire State won’t see real reform until most of these bums get kicked out.