Commission urged to push for campaign finance reform

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Speakers at a forum on public corruption this week said the state's anti-corruption commission should push for campaign finance reform when it reports to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Dec. 1.

At the event Monday organized by the Long Island Progressive Coalition, the League of Women Voters of Nassau County, Common Cause New York and MoveOn.org, more than a dozen speakers said public financing of campaigns would help curb corruption because candidates and public officials would not be beholden to large donors.

"We have watched year after year as the big money contributions drown out the voices of ordinary New Yorkers," said Susan Schilling, a Huntington resident and member of the coalition.

Lisa Tyson, director of the Massapequa-based Long Island Progressive Coalition, said the group would to forward testimony to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. Cuomo convened the panel in July to probe public corruption following the arrests of several state lawmakers on corruption charges.

Tyson said the groups decided to organize a local public hearing after learning that the Moreland Commission had scheduled hearings only in New York City and Albany.

"While we are glad that the Moreland Commission is doing the work of investigating public corruption, we were upset that they decided not to come to Long Island to hear from Long Islanders," Tyson said.

Emails and calls to Cuomo's press office seeking comment were not returned Tuesday.

Jonathan C. Clarke, a Levittown Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Nassau County Legislature against Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown) on Nov. 5, told about 40 spectators he spent about $1,000 on his campaign, choosing to focus less on fundraising than on speaking to district voters.

"This is a plea to politicians: Don't worry so much about the money, worry about the message," Clarke said.

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Felix Procacci, a Franklin Square Democrat who lost on Nov. 5 to Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, said municipalities should post contracts online and provide online videos of all public meetings to increase transparency.

"Ultimately, what it comes down to is people need to know what their government is doing," Procacci said.

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