campaign finance reform

New York State’s campaign financing system has been notorious – sky-high contributions that allow the wealthy and powerful to legally donate over $100,000; ineffective enforcement; loopholes galore and inadequate disclosures.  The result?  Scandals.  Most recently the convictions of big donors and top-ranking state officials in an incredible scheme that rigged government contracts for big campaign donors.

Freshman New York Congressman Antonio Delgado is introducing his second bill. The 19th District Democrat says the legislation sheds light on dark money in politics.

NYS Assemblyman Says To Focus On Ethics Reform

Jul 8, 2017

With the New York state legislative session wrapped up in Albany, an assemblyman from the Hudson Valley says there is at least one big piece of unfinished business.

The mailman who landed his gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol spurred plenty of chatter in the hallowed halls, but most is not about what he was trying to get the elected officials to pay attention to.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

The postman who flew his gyrocopter onto the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in hopes of raising awareness of campaign finance reform got his point across to at least one member of Congress.

Most New Yorkers correctly assume that the state’s campaign finance system is a mess.  New York has the highest campaign contribution limits of any state that has limits, the law is riddled with loopholes and enforcement is essentially nonexistent.  One government-appointed commission described New York’s campaign finance law as a “disgrace.”

    In today’s Congressional Corner, Union College political science professor Brad Hays and WAMC’s Alan Chartock continue their discussion of campaign finance and the Supreme Court.

    Is campaign spending free speech, a scourge in our politics, or both?

In today’s Congressional Corner, Union College political science professor Brad Hays and WAMC’s Alan Chartock discuss last week’s Supreme Court decision.

New York's campaign finance system may be about to change, but not the way good-government groups and many Democrats in public office had hoped for. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

Wednesday morning, in a 5-to-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down overall contribution limits to federal campaigns and committees. Observers say the ruling could have an immediate impact on the 2014 midterm elections, and the decision opens the door to a possible challenge to New York's campaign contribution limits.

[WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas]

The U.S. Supreme Court Decision McCutcheon v FEC, striking down some campaign donation limits, is expected to have an effect in New York. Reform advocates say Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers missed a key chance this week to counteract the ruling.

WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Congressman Paul Tonko has condemned the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the McCutcheon v. FEC case that ruled caps on the total amount of money an individual can contribute to political campaigns and Political Action Committees (PACs) are unconstitutional.

Wednesday morning, in a 5-to-4 decision, the US Supreme Court struck down overall contribution limits to federal campaigns and committees. Tonko branded the decision "flawed" - saying America should be a government of the many, not the money.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York lawmakers are being criticized by good-government advocates for a budget agreement that tests public campaign financing only with the state comptroller’s race, and only for one year.

"The comptroller-only plan that was passed late last night is really very flawed."  Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner says it's back to business as usual with the governor's blessing.

The $140 billion spending plan signed Tuesday morning includes testing public campaign finance in the state comptroller race this year.

Once the state's political leaders got past the congratulatory "atta-boys" and backslapping on their most recent effort to reform Albany, the public was left to dig through the details of the legislative agreement.

New York State Capitol

Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers have agreed to a very limited form of campaign finance reform in the state budget, it would only apply to the state Comptroller’s race.

Advocates spent a million dollars on television ads  and countless hours lobbying and holding demonstrations in favor of adopting a publicly funded, matching small donor system for statewide races, including the governor and the legislature.

Blair Horner: The Governor's Historic Opportunity

Feb 24, 2014

Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to tackle the big issue of the session: approving a state budget.  As part of that $140 billion plus decision, lawmakers will be forced to also debate a key issue: reforming the state’s campaign finance and ethics laws.

Three New York Congressmen have joined forces in an effort to fight big money in elections.

Last week the House Democrats introduced a bill to create public financing of elections for federal elections. Just two weeks before that, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his intention to create publicly financed elections for the state legislature and for all statewide offices.


A prosecutor says a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from New York told investigators that a conservative scholar and author lied to her about the source of campaign donations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Cohen made the disclosure Friday as Dinesh D'Souza pleaded not guilty to charges that he violated campaign finance laws. D'Souza is the creator of the documentary "2016: Obama's America."

He was released after his Manhattan court appearance on $500,000 bond. His travel is restricted to the United States.

Reformers Happy With Cuomo Budget Proposal

Jan 20, 2014
[WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas]

Government reform groups are pleased that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will put money in his new state budget to fund public financing of campaigns, as well as money for better enforcement of existing campaign laws.

Will New York See Political Reform In 2014?

Dec 24, 2013
Karen DeWitt

2013 saw more New York state lawmakers indicted, jailed, convicted, and even participating in the wire-tapping some of their colleagues.  The continued corruption spurred Governor Andrew Cuomo to appoint a commission to look into the legislature. Will 2014 be the year Albany finally sees reform?

Wikimedia Commons/Dismas

Along with the familiar “In God We Trust”, the next one, five, ten or twenty dollar bill you hold may include another message, "Stamp Money Out of Politics".

It is part of the Stamp Stampede, lead by Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founder, Ben Cohen. Ben Cohen says the Stamp Stampede, which he calls a petition on steroids, is about giving a voice to Americans who understand that unlimited campaign contributions are corrupting democracy. A rally by the group supporting the "Fair Elections Act" is scheduled for tomorrow. Cohen spoke with WAMC's Brian Shields.

Karen DeWitt

Hundreds gathered at the State Capitol to rally for public financing of political campaigns. The measure remains in limbo in the State Senate and Governor Cuomo faces questions on whether he’s working hard enough for the proposal to pass.
They came in busses from all over New York to give state lawmakers their message- big money is corrupting politics. They say the state should adopt New York City’s public campaign finance system, which allows candidates to match every dollar they collect in small donations with seven dollars of government funds.

IDC Takes Proposed Campaign Finance Bill On The Road

May 9, 2013
WAMC/Allison Dunne

A group of New York state Senators held a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed campaign finance reform bill. They say with the most recent lawmaker names that have emerged in connection with a federal corruption investigation, the need for such reform is all the more urgent.

  Campaign finance reform has become a perpetual goal for reformers.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Paul Tonko, a Democrat who represents the 20th district, tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that he is hopeful a supportive bipartisan coalition can be cobbled together in the House.

NYS Senator Says The Need For Reform Is Urgent

May 7, 2013
Courtesy of Terry Gipson

A New York State senator from the Hudson Valley says he is disgusted by the latest political corruption case. His colleague, Democratic Senator John Sampson, faces several charges, including embezzlement.

Democratic Senator Terry Gipson says the Sampson case is another example of why there is an urgent need for comprehensive campaign finance and ethics reform in New York.

Sampson is the latest in a number of elected officials to be charged with political corruption this year.

Divisions Remain On Public Campaign Financing

Apr 25, 2013
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Recent bribery scandals involving state legislators have fueled discussion on campaign finance reform at the Capitol in Albany, with several politicians and advocacy groups pressing for publicly financed campaigns.  But a key faction in the legislature, Republicans in the state Senate, remains opposed.

Proponents of fair elections, particularly in New York, argue that ordinary citizens are denied a real chance at being heard in an election because running for office is expensive and the average citizen is unable contribute substantial sums of money to help fund any given campaign.

Supporters say a fair elections law would restore trust in government by giving prospective candidates for office access to public funding. For example: for each dollar raised, a taxpayer-financed public fund would match that dollar with six dollars.

At the New York State Capitol, lawmakers are scrambling to put forward plans to react to the latest twin corruption scandals involving bribery charges against a State Senator and Assemblyman.  As Karen DeWitt reports, Tuesday it was the Assembly Democrats’ turn to weigh in. Governor Andrew Cuomo also rolled out two more components of his own reform plan.

Office of NYS Senator David Carlucci

A New York State Senator who is part of the Independent Democratic Conference will announce the IDC’s campaign finance reform package later this afternoon. The proposals come in the wake of a far-reaching political corruption scandal in the state.

A television ad, urging the state legislature to pass campaign finance reform this year, is airing statewide in New York. A number of groups are behind the spot which shows people with tape over their mouths, indicating how the average citizen is silenced compared to big money donors. Karen Scharf is the executive director of Citizen Action of New York. She spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

American flag with cash
Steve Johnson/Flickr

A Vermont Senate Committee on Tuesday delayed a vote  on a bill to tighten the state’s campaign finance laws.