By Paula Katinas
Campaign finance reform is in the air in Albany. In the most recent development, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Greenpoint) said he will sponsor legislation to reform campaign finance laws to make the campaign system more equitable and fair.
One bill, the 2013 Fair Elections Act, would provide a public financing program for campaigns at the state level, including those for governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller, attorney general, state legislators, and constitutional convention delegates.
“A state campaign finance system is a smart idea. Some people oppose the use of state funds to match contributions, but I disagree. If we want more citizen participation in our election process, the public needs to know that candidates for office have an opportunity to mount a successful campaign on a fair playing field,” Lentol (D-Greenpoint) said.
“Allowing large donors to dominate elections seems to have directly diminished the participation of the general public,” he said.
Lentol said his bill is similar to an existing law that has been in effect in http://www.nyccfb.info/act-program/CFACT.htm New York City since 1988. Candidates would have the option of choosing to participate in the program, which would match every $1 donated to the candidate’s campaign with $6 of state funds, excluding donations over $250 per contributor. A $250 donation would equate to an additional $1500 of state funded contributions.
“Ultimately, the goals of campaign finance laws are to protect the public’s confidence in the electoral process. There is no better time to tackle this problem then right now,” Lentol said.
Another bill sponsored by Lentol, the 2013 Corporate Political Expenditure Disclosure Act, would require for-profit corporations to obtain approval of its shareholders before making any political contributions.
Lentol said the bill seeks to ensure that political expenditures of corporations are open and transparent.
“The goal of both of these bills is to make the campaign process fairer. Everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to democracy in an equitable fashion and I believe these bills take significant steps in achieving this objective,” Lentol said.