DiNapoli, good-gov't groups attack deal to make comptroller race a test for public financing

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ALBANY - State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is fighting back at the plan to use the comptroller’s race as a test case for public financing of campaigns this year.

On Sunday, major good-government groups that have supported public financing of campaigns said the final deal "is not even a step in the right direction." 

The state budget deal by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders to be voted on Monday would place strict limits on fundraising for the race this fall. The voluntary program would use state funds to match small private donations.

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Cuomo and legislative leaders rejected proposals that would have made their own races subject to public financing of campaigns. Good-government groups have sought public financing of campaigns to limit the influence of big-dollar donors and to even the playing field for challengers.

“After eight years of my call for campaign finance reform, I am disappointed that my public financing proposal was not enacted,” DiNapoli said. “The process was flawed: I was excluded from the negotiations, and it appears a historic opportunity was missed for comprehensive campaign finance reform and public financing for all statewide and legislative offices.

“There are also questions on whether this proposal can be fairly and reasonably implemented in such a short time frame.”

The Brennan Center for Justice, a good-government advocate at New York University Law School, also criticized the budget deal.

“The Legislature has failed to adopt a comprehensive small donor matching system, which would have allowed the voices of average New Yorkers to counter the dominance of special interest money over the state's policy decisions,” the Brennan Center stated Sunday. “The proposed pilot public financing program for comptroller in 2014 only will not have time to be implemented properly, and includes loopholes that will ensure its failure. If anything, we view it as counterproductive to the goal of reform.”

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In 2011, however, several good-government groups supported using the comptroller’s office as a test case for public financing.

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