Earlier this week, I testified at a hearing organized by Senator Jeff Klein of the Independent Democratic Conference on campaign finance reform. The Senate and Assembly both currently have bills that would limit individual campaign contributions and enact a public financing system similar to the New York City system which provides matching funds for donations up to a certain amount.
Last year MYD voted to sign on to a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to support such a system, so we are very pleased that the state legislature is currently considering such legislation. There are currently two competing bills in the Senate – one from IDC leader Jeff Klein and the other from Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. The competing bills do have a few key differences: Klein’s bill would also limit the amount that party committees can donate to candidates and would repeal the Wilson-Pakula law which allows candidates to run on a party’s line, even if they are not a member of that party, with the approval of the party leaders.
While MYD has not taken a position on the Klein bill in particular, I did testify in favor of a public financing system and in favor of limiting individual contribution limits. You can read my prepared testimony below, and watch my remarks as delivered (begins at 2hrs 30min.)
Good afternoon, my name is Kim Moscaritolo, I am the policy director for the Manhattan Young Democrats. I’d like to thank Senator Klein and the members of the Independent Democratic Conference for holding this forum. I am here today on behalf of the Manhattan Young Democrats, one of the largest Young Democrats organizations in the country, and the official youth arm of the Democratic Party in New York County. We emphatically support the 2013 Fair Elections Act.
As an organization tasked with engaging young people in the political process, we have witnessed first-hand the paralyzing effect that corruption scandals can have on youth participation. I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had with young people who express frustration with the current political system, and I can’t blame them. The fact is New York’s lax campaign finance system breeds corruption, which in turn breeds voter cynicism and apathy.
The Fair Elections Act would be a game changer; an opportunity for New York to be a national leader in citizen funded elections. By instituting a voluntary matching funds program and lowering individual contribution limits, we will be sending a strong message that our elected officials represent ALL New Yorkers, not just the wealthy and large corporations.
For these reasons, the Manhattan Young Democrats urge the New York State legislature to pass the bill this Spring. We know building consensus in Albany can be hard, but a majority of members of the Assembly and the Senate have indicated that they will vote in favor of a bill that creates publicly financed Fair Elections. The time is now. Bring this bill to the floor and pass Fair Elections in New York State.