Groups press Andrew Cuomo on public campaign financing

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his annual

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his annual State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, in Albany, N.Y. (Jan. 8, 2014) (Credit: AP )

ALBANY -- A coalition of good-government, political and church groups Wednesday urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to use his executive budget power to establish public financing of campaigns.

The Working Families Party, which is influential in Democratic politics, made its pitch in a letter to the Democratic governor signed by two dozen good-government groups. It urged him to use his extensive budget authority to include the measure, which has been blocked by State Senate Republicans for years.

The letter obtained by Newsday urges Cuomo to force the issue as a reaction to the latest corruption cases in Albany and the findings of Cuomo's own Moreland Act commission on public corruption. That panel's recommendations included using public funds to limit the influence of big donors in campaigns and in state government.


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"New Yorkers have waited long enough for action on curbing corruption and reducing the undue influence and role of campaign money in state government," the letter states.

The letter was signed by groups including Common Cause NY, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the State Council of Churches, the Long Island Progressive Coalition and the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce.

The Working Families Party also urged Cuomo to create an independent enforcement office to investigate the thousands of allegations of campaign finance violations lodged each year, but which the lightly staffed Board of Elections can't handle.

Senate Republicans have opposed using taxpayer money to fund campaigns, saying the scarce funds are needed more for schools and to pay for tax cuts.

The Assembly and most Democratic state senators long have supported a voluntary system of public financing of campaigns.

"The state budget process allows the best opportunity for making campaign reform a reality in 2014," the letter states.

Cuomo could add the policies to his executive budget proposal on Tuesday. Under law, the legislature would have to negotiate to delete the policies.

Even if the legislature eliminated the provision, Cuomo potentially could hold the budget open beyond the April 1 due date. Under law, he could then impose his policy changes as part of emergency spending measures. Cuomo and legislative leaders, however, are seeking a fourth straight on-time budget.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi declined to comment.

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