Governor: Bold… Or Reckless?


In Governor Paterson’s “State of the State” address earlier this week, he decided to throw the kitchen sink at an issue that is near and dear to MYDers’ hearts: campaign finance reform and ethics reform. (We’ve written about the need for campaign finance reform previously here and ethics reform here.)

Top-level bullets of the Governor’s proposed reforms, according ot the Times:

  • New York would for the first time provide matching funds to candidates for state office, limit lobbyists to contributions no larger than $250 and ban corporate contributions entirely.
  • The maximum contribution for any candidate for state office, including the governor, would fall to $1,000 from $55,900, and the limits would apply to candidates who opt out of public financing.
  • Mr. Paterson is also including in his package a proposal he made last year to centralize ethics enforcement in Albany with a single independent commission charged with enforcing the state‚Äôs ethics and campaign finance laws.

He also suggested term limits for all state-wide officials (the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller), which would require a change to the state Constitution.

All this seems quite ambitious, but pigs will fly before all (and indeed, perhaps any) of it gets passed in Albany, which is beset by a plague of corruption and knee-deep in special interest campaign contributions. Public financing has passed the Assembly 10x, but here are Democratic State Senators firmly opposed to such legislation.

Could it be that by trying to get everything in there–and thus being unable to escape the impression that this is all a political ploy and not a serious attempt at reform–that the Governor risks the entire agenda?

As the TU notes:

What a shame it would be if Mr. Paterson, in his quest to get all these proposals passed, got none of them through. New York needs an able reformer, not a political martyr. Be bold, governor, but not reckless.