New York, NY – Bill Samuels, founder of the reform Albany organization New Roosevelt, today called on Cuomo to start setting an example on Campaign Finance Reform immediately by declaring he would no longer take corporate contributions and he should urge other elected officials to do the same.
Samuels made the pronouncement after reviewing Governor Cuomo’s most recent latest campaign finance filing for the period ending July 2012, which show he continues to raise copious amounts of money from corporate special interests.
“We must get corporate money out of politics if we are to change to system in Albany,” Samuels said. “And though Governor Cuomo has made recent pronouncements he will start getting aggressive on the issue next year, he can begin today by immediately declaring he will no longer accept corporate contributions for his 2014 reelection campaign. Furthermore he should actively encourage other elected officials to follow his example and pledge to do the same. In light of Citizen United, such a step by the Governor would of national significance. And besides he has already risen more than enough money from corporate America for his reelection campaign.”
Samuels pointed to Cuomo’s latest campaign finance filings that show he continues to raise money from corporate interests, despite saying he wants bring about reform on the issue.
In the latest filing, Cuomo took 123 corporate contributions totaling more than $430,000 from corporate special interests. That brings his total since January 2011 to $1.4 million dollars.
Samuels pointed out that it is difficult for the Governor to lead on Campaign Finance Reform when the most recent filing shows for example that his campaign accepted a $50,000 donation from Ultimate Fighting Productions, which has pending legislation in Albany.
Similarly the recent revelation that the gambling group Genting gave a $2 million donation to the Cuomo-aligned Committee to Save New York, while the Governor was considering casino gambling legislation further undermines his ability to lead on the issue.
“The appearance in and of itself of a conflict of interest is very damaging to reform. If Cuomo wants to lead on Campaign Finance he should stop taking corporate donations today. I would truly like to see him live up to recent comments about becoming more pro-active on the issue,” Samuels said.
Cuomo pledged to reform campaign finance as detailed in “Clean Up Albany: Make It Work” the 4th in a series by Governor Cuomo that made up the “The New NY Agenda.”
In it, Governor Cuomo said, “In order to restore trust and accountability in government, we must reform the very foundation of democracy — the ballot box. Therefore, we must change our antiquated campaign finance laws. Our current laws amplify the voices of wealthy individuals and special interests and entrench incumbents at the public’s expense.”
The solutions he suggested, but still has failed to enact, include:
Institute a Voluntary System of Public Funding of Election Campaigns
Limit Soft Money
Reduce Sky-High Campaign Contribution Limits
Close Corporate Subsidiary and LLC Loopholes
Tighten Inadequate Reporting Requirements
Restrict Fundraisers during Legislative Session
Prohibit Personal Use of Campaign Funds
Improve Enforcement of Campaign Finance laws
Disclosure of Outside Income Sources and Clients;
Outlaw “Pay to Play”
Enact Low Contribution Limits for Public Contractors and Lobbyists
Immediate Disclosure of Contributions
Prohibit Public Contracts with Contributors that Have Exceeded Statutory Limits